New Rules for “Man & Van” Removals

16th January 2022

New Rules for “Man & Van” Removals

I must point out that I have lifted the major proportion of this “Post” from my Colleague “Mick Cox” at with his full permission,


I want to tell you why EU Removals will be tougher in 2022. Considering the momentous Brexit changes we have already adjusted to this year, that is quite a sobering thought. And this is without factoring a global pandemic into the mix!

With huge changes coming, everyone in this industry must completely adjust the way they work for 2022. This is what is coming

  • A) the Brexit agreement being fully implemented
  • B) the registering of journeys in the EU
  • C) the inclusion of all vans over 2500 kg in the Operator Licence rules, 

The last 2 are looking like they may be the biggest shake up in European transport – probably ever. It will raise the barriers to entry, in an industry which has historically been very easy to get into.

The end of Man & Van?

man and van future in jeopardy

The man and van sector has taken a hell of a bashing in the past couple of years. It is often criticized and is rather unloved within the removals trade. Brexit saw the demise of many man and van operators,  when the work involved with customs procedures took it’s natural toll. The consequences of Brexit also saw the number of British vehicles used in Europe fall dramatically.

In the spring of 2022, two new pieces of legislation are being introduced. These will probably finish off any illegal ‘man & van’ operations that are based on the Spanish Costas, Balearic Islands or that operate from Facebook forums. Alongside this, sadly, the new legislation could well see the demise of many longer-standing operators, who might just decide that enough is enough. Those whom persist in chancing their luck, could well find the vehicle and load impounded.

It’s now difficult to see any future beyond 2022 for man & van, with the triple whammy of these new regulations, as fully explained below. What is abundantly clear is that only those operating legally will continue to thrive. Even then, the survivors will need to invest in licensing, new vehicles and compliance systems, which will be very expensive.

So, after such a scary opening to this article, shall I explain in full what is changing? Here are the 3 reasons why EU removals will be tougher in 2022

Reason 1 – Brexit – full UK border controls from 1st January

Since the UK and EU went their separate ways at the end of 2021, we have experienced a ‘Brexit lite’ period regarding customs procedures. Whilst full import controls were in place from Jan 1st for entering the EU, the UK has allowed deferred import clearance – by up to six months. As there have been few checks at some ports, this has led some removals companies to avoid doing any imports completely. However, from 1st January 2022 that will end, and all imports must have full customs clearance. This means all UK customs import declarations must be made in advance. Journeys must then be registered on the UK government GVMS (Goods Vehicle Movement Service). If the trip is not registered, you will not be leaving the port of departure. Consequently, for those businesses who were less than honest, UK import taxes can no longer be avoided.

For many, this will mean another layer of expensive administration. For those who have been carrying out import clearances all this year, it will only mean one additional process.

This is reason one, of three, as to why EU removals will be tougher in 2022

Reason 2 – Registering Journeys (postings declaration) within the EU.

new van rules in the EU

This relates to cabotage and cross trading. Cabotage is loading goods in one EU country and unloading them at a different place in the same country, using a vehicle registered in the UK. Cross-trade is loading goods in one EU country and unloading them in a different EU country, again using a vehicle registered in the UK.

The legislation means the registration of these jobs, made in advance with the authorities, will require full details of the vehicle, the driver, contract of employment, start and finish points of each leg, and expected timescales of each trip. Copies of all this info must be inside the vehicle during the trip. Then government officials can stop the van and check you are not trying to ‘cheat’ and gain an advantage. This legislation will apply to all vans, cars towing trailers and, of course, all HGVs. The UK government website states “You will get penalties if you do not register the journey”

 There are some exceptions, where journeys will not need to be registered. Among them are:

  •       From the UK to just one place in Europe, where you can both unload and load goods.
  •       From the UK to Europe, and you unload goods at more than one place abroad – but you must return empty and not load any goods in the EU

EU Warehousing as a solution

It’s pretty clear that the most useful exception is the first one. We expect to see trade links between removal businesses grow for those companies with warehousing and distribution facilities in Europe. Here in Mallorca we have our own Freehold Depot. We will take care of all the collection and delivery services within the Island as well as Menorca and Ibiza using our professional staff whom are resident there.

 A link to the UK Government’s advice on this legislation is here

This is reason two, of three, as to why EU removals will be tougher in 2022

Reason 3 – All Vans will need to be on an Operators Licence.

Perhaps the most controversial piece of legislation comes in May 2022. It may be the final nail in the coffin for many.

To operate vans on a hire or reward basis (carrying other peoples goods) anywhere in the EU, you will need to have a goods vehicle operators licence.  Yes that also means those whom use Borrowed, “Hire Vans” .

Just to add, those whom borrow or hire vehicles, should ensure that these vehicles are insured for hire and reward, in case of an Inspection, or as the Roadside Authorities refer to it as a “Control” , the ramifications of not being properly covered will certainly mean the vehicle being impounded.

legal van rules

This legislation will be a hammer blow to small operators who carry goods between the EU and UK. This new ruling is massive, and brings the average ‘man and van’ under the same rules and conditions of operation as HGV operators. Don’t worry, though, if you only use vans in the UK this does not apply to you. Any van you have that operates to the EU will, however, need to be on an operator’s licence.

The criteria for a licence will be exactly the same as for an HGV, apart from an operating centre to park your vehicles. Therefore, it is very strict. It will be necessary to demonstrate financial standing, proving that you have access to a set amount of finance to run and maintain your vans. This is based on the number of vans you operate. You will also need a fully qualified transport manager – you could employ one directly, or hire-in an external TM.


You will also need to make the following undertakings as part of the application process, and prove to DVSA that you have proper records that:-

  •       All drivers keep to the rules on driver’s hours – the postings declaration rule (Reason 2 above)  will help to enforce this.
  •       Vans are not overloaded
  •       Vehicles operate within speed limits
  •       Drivers report all defects, and repairs are carried out promptly
  •       Records of defect reporting, safety inspections and maintenance/repairs are kept for 15 months

New rules mean the Operator will suffer if your drivers break the rules

There is no avoiding the huge impact of this new legislation. These rules are for the whole of the EU. So just buying, say, a Spanish van and hoping to carry on as before simply won’t work. Any work being undertaken for hire or reward in any vehicle above 2,500kg anywhere within the EU will mean you must have an operator’s licence.

So this is why EU removals will be tougher in 2022 – the upheaval will be enormous. Things will look very different by the summer of 2022.

The future (may be) bright


However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Those planning ahead will already be aware of the changes and will be ready. Those that wish to continue travelling to and from the EU simply must abide by the new rules.  

 For those van operators in the UK that want to continue but don’t want to get involved with getting ‘licenced’ it seems that they won’t have a choice – they risk being forced out. However, there is an answer, and a way for them to continue. This will be by forging trade relationships with those business able to continue, both Gareth Webb and I look forward to helping those who wish to develop a professional relationship with us.

 Businesses that have an operational base within the EU can help those in the UK thrive in an increasingly inflexible environment. A positive extra result of this will the raising of standards across the industry. This will ensure the future survival of all of us within the removals trade.

2022 looks like being at least as difficult for European Removal Specialists as was 2021. Hard work and a drive to do things the right way will help all those businesses that are serious about continuing through the years ahead

A Footnote,

“Webb’s International Removals SL back in 2002 was the first British owned Removal Company in Mallorca to hold a Spanish Transport Licence as what was then required and still is now to operate the smaller Van, Box Van variant ,

And to clarify, “Webb’s” started up back in 1985 at St Peters in Broadstairs, Kent, we now how hard it can be to progress, also how annoying it is to be undermined

A Reliable and Regular Service to and from Mallorca, EST 1985  

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