17 July 2023

Cross-border road transport: focus on fair competition

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  • Trade / Logistics

Federal Council advocates equal opportunities and transparency and implements EU Mobility Package I.

The Federal Council recently announced regulatory changes for companies involved in the international transport of goods. The goal? To ensure fair competition between road haulage companies with delivery vans (up to 3.5 tonnes) and with HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles). A licence obligation is to be introduced for companies that use delivery vans (up to 3.5 tonnes) for commercial goods transport nationally and also internationally across borders.

Until now, transport companies only had to apply for a licence if they used vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes for road haulage. With the new rules, (lighter) delivery vans are also to be covered. Companies that use vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes will also be required to obtain a licence. This means a level playing field for all transporters. With the extended licensing requirement, the Federal Council intends to ensure that only reliable, financially capable and professionally suitable companies are active in road transport. Craftsmen who transport tools and materials on a non-commercial basis do not have to apply for a licence.

The Federal Council also intents to put a stop to "letterbox companies". Fictitious companies opened by foreign transport companies in order to circumvent the cabotage ban or to benefit from lower social standards for the driving personnel are to be prevented.

All measures are to be implemented with an amendment to the Federal Act on the Licensing of Road Transport Companies (STUG, SR 744.10).

Based on the feedback received during the consultation process, the law on the posting of workers will not be amended. This means that the current law on the posting of workers will apply to road transport between Switzerland and the EU for the time being. The existing cabotage bans are also not affected by the planned amendment.

With the planned legislative changes, which are aimed in the same direction as the EU's 2020 "mobility package", the Federal Council is sending a signal for fair competition and more transparency in national and cross-border road transport. The bill will now be submitted to parliament for discussion. If the bill is implemented, around 1,000 companies are likely to be newly affected by the licensing obligation and will have to apply for corresponding licences.

MME Legal Tax Compliance is prepared and will be able to assist with licence applications as soon as the time comes.