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Source: Fotolia / Grecaud Paul

For general information on the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 and on the agreements reached between the EU and the United Kingdom, please click on the link to the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

Frequently asked questions about the impact of Brexit on the transport sector:.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom, which will enter into force provisionally on 1 January 2021, grants all stakeholders the basic traffic rights. It covers the “first and second freedoms of the air”, i.e. the right to fly across territory and to make stops in this territory for non-traffic purposes, as well as the “third and fourth freedoms”, i.e. the right to operate direct outbound and return flights for the carriage of cargo or passengers.

More extensive freedoms are not covered by the Agreement. However, the Agreement permits bilateral agreements on granting fifth freedom rights for air cargo services outside the EU. One example of this would be the Frankfurt-London-New York air service. Corresponding bilateral agreements can, however, only be concluded as of the date the Agreement becomes at least provisionally applicable and likely not in good time for them to enter into force on 1 January 2021, so there will probably be (temporary) disruption. Passenger air services are not covered by the fifth freedom. Code-share and blocked space arrangements may not replace this. It also excludes cabotage, i.e. the provision of transport services within a state by a transport operator from another state.

Bilateral agreement may be reached on more extensive rights governing charter flights. This may concern the seventh freedom, under which passengers or cargo may be carried between two foreign states without the air link connecting to the home state.

The flight schedule is liberal and permits all landing points. Also permitted is the connection of various means of transport, aka as intermodal transport. The Member States are explicitly not allowed to bilaterally agree rights going beyond those mentioned above with the United Kingdom. In addition, the Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom provides for earlier agreements and arrangements to be superseded.

Technical information for air carriers on permits for scheduled air services, entry permissions and flight schedule approvals in the event of a no-deal Brexit are provided on the Federal Aviation Office's website.

Irrespective of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU and the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, on 20 December 2020 the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure had issued a General Decree on protection against infection risks related to entry to Germany with regard to novel mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, in accordance with which there was initially a general prohibition on aircraft from the United Kingdom entering Germany. On 21 December 2020, this General Decree was replaced by the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance (German only), which expired no later than midnight on 6 January 2021.

After the end of the transition period, i.e. as of 1 January 2021, British airlines will no longer be considered Community air carriers within the meaning of the Passenger Rights Regulation and will be treated like other air services providers from non-EU states. The EU Passenger Rights Regulation will then only apply to flights with UK airlines when an aircraft of the airline starts from an EU airport and no longer - as was the case in the past - when the UK airline enters into EU territory and lands there.

The Montreal Convention, on the basis of which i. a. compensation claims for death or injury to passengers, delay and damage or loss of baggage on international flights may be made, will generally not be affected by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. The United Kingdom will remain a contracting party to the Convention even after its withdrawal from the EU. However, Regulation (EC) No. 2027/97 on air carrier liability for the carriage of passengers and their baggage would no longer apply to the United Kingdom in a “no-deal scenario”. This Regulation extends the scope of the Montreal Convention to include air transport operations within an individual Member State. However, this would only lower the level of protection for flights within the UK; international flights operated by British air carriers would still be covered by the Montreal Convention.
See the website (German only) of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

Brexit will affect the high-speed trains, freight trains and shuttle trains for passenger cars and HGVs through the Channel Tunnel and rail services between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Given that checks already take place on rail services through the Channel Tunnel, we believe that it is unlikely that there will be any other traffic-related impacts for travellers. However, on the French and British sides, customs controls will be introduced. Customs clearance will also be introduced in the rail freight sector as a result of the newly created external EU borders. For customs-related questions, you can find more detailed information by clicking on the link to the customs authorities.

To further ensure that rail services continue to operate without disruption in the Channel Tunnel, the European Parliament and the Council quickly agreed a contingency regulation in November 2020, providing for the continuing validity of safety certificates and safety authorizations for railway undertakings and rolling stock as well as licences of train drivers in cross-border trail transport between the United Kingdom and the Calais-Frethun border-crossing station in France if they have been issued by UK authorities. This means that the parties affected will be able to continue operating the services until the corresponding processes of re-issuing these documents in an EU Member State have been completed. In addition, the United Kingdom and France may make further arrangements for the facilitation of rail transport services through the Channel Tunnel in a future bilateral agreement between the two countries.

Even if on 1 January 2021, when the transition period ends, there is no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom in force yet, no major impact on shipping is to be expected, irrespective of the flag being flown by the ship. This also applies to passenger shipping (ferry services, cruises). However, delays caused by immigration and customs formalities cannot be ruled out. These may result in congestion and waiting times during handling at the ports.

Instead of the previous provisions of Directive (EC) 2009/16, the rules of the Paris MoU will be directly applicable.

It will still be mandatory for holders of UK certificates of competency, maritime radio operator’s certificates and certificates of proficiency for service on tankers who want to work on board vessels flying the German flag to have a valid endorsement attesting recognition, which will be issued upon request by the German shipping administration. Endorsements attesting recognition issued before 31 December 2020 will remain valid until the date stated in the document. After 31 December 2020, requests for issuance of a new endorsement attesting recognition will still have to be submitted, as usual, to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency.

As of 1 January 2021, the UK facilities that are included in the European List of ship recycling facilities in accordance with Regulation (EU) No. 1257/2013 and in which recycling operations can be performed in accordance with the Regulation may no longer be used for the recycling of vessels flying the flag of a Member State of the EU.

The comprehensive Agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU provides that EU transport operators holding a valid EU Community licence may still undertake transport operations to and from the United Kingdom. Moreover, they may undertake up to two cabotage operations within seven days of unloading in the United Kingdom. The current EU rules on social legislation in the road transport sector have been incorporated into the draft agreement. Current information on the social legislation amended in August 2020 can be found here.

With their UK professional drivers’ qualification, documented by the entry of code 95 into a UK driving licence or a UK driver qualification card in accordance with Directive 2003/59/EC, last amended by Directive (EU) 2018/645, UK drivers may carry out transport operations to and through Germany.

Occasional traffic in commercial road passenger transport between the EU and the United Kingdom is guaranteed by the Interbus Agreement. Scheduled services and special scheduled services between the EU and the United Kingdom will be Convention (currently not yet the case) ensured. Until this Protocol comes into force, the provisions contained in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will apply.

Starting on the date of withdrawal, the UK type approval authority will no longer be an EU type approval authority within the meaning of the relevant provisions. For this reason, motor vehicles that are to be placed on the market after the date of withdrawal will require a type approval issued by an EU authority. In early January 2019, Regulation (EU) 2019/26 "complementing Union type-approval legislation with regard to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union" entered into force. Under this regulation, manufacturers holding a type approval issued by the United Kingdom have been able to submit an application to an EU-27 type approval authority for an EU type approval. Special arrangements are applicable for Northern Ireland, and the EU type approval legislation will continue to apply there for the time being.

If you have any further questions on motor vehicle type approval, please contact the Federal Motor Transport Authority.

If they only use the roads temporarily, holders of a UK driving licence may do so in Germany with their driving entitlement issued in the UK if they possess a driving licence in accordance with the Convention on Road Traffic of 8 November 1968. This also includes, among other things, credit card format driving licences issued after 18 January 2013. Otherwise, the driving licence must be accompanied by a translation or they will require and International Driving Permit in accordance with the aforementioned Convention.

If they take up residence in Germany, their UK driving licence will have to be converted into an EU/EEA driving licence after a maximum of six months. Under driver licensing law, a person is deemed to have taken up residence in Germany if they live here for at least 185 days a year. The question as to when this period commences in any given case, especially in the case of Brexit, should be settled with the local driver licensing authority.

Holders of a UK driving licence wishing to convert it into a German driving licence may currently do so without having to take a theory or practical driving test. Germany will enter into a corresponding reciprocal agreement with the United Kingdom.

  • Drivers of vehicles registered in Germany will – as in the past – have to carry the registration certificate (part I) when using UK roads. According to our understanding, this will be sufficient also after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, as the United Kingdom has also acceded to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of 8 November 1968 and would thus have to recognize the registration certificate (part I) issued in Germany, since the certificate complies with the conditions established in Chapter III of the Convention. For this reason, they will not need an International Certificate for Motor Vehicles in accordance with Article 4 of the International Convention relative to Motor Traffic of 24 April 1926.
    In addition, as of the day of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, they will have to carry a Green International Insurance Card to prove that they have insurance cover. Such an insurance card can usually be obtained from the motor liability insurers. It is recommended that you contact the respective competent authorities in the United Kingdom prior to entering the country in order to verify the specific requirements under UK law after the withdrawal.
  • Drivers of vehicles registered in the United Kingdom will have to carry an official registration certificate with certain minimum information or an International Certificate for Motor Vehicles when using German roads. In addition, as of the day of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, they must carry a Green International Insurance Card to prove that they have insurance cover.
    However, in any case, the use of the road in the other country must be only temporary, in accordance with the Convention on Road Traffic of 8 November 1968. In all other cases, for instance if residence is taken up, the provisions of the country in question regarding the mandatory registration in that county have to be complied with.
  • Both the agreement of 1926 and the agreement of 1968 are multilateral agreements under international law to which both the United Kingdom and Germany are parties.

The United Kingdom has informed us that European parking cards (blue cards) for persons with disabilities issued in Germany will continue to be recognized. In return, Germany has announced that holders of British blue badges will be granted the same concessions as German citizens if the badge is correctly put on display.