Cabotage in Sweden – change in regulations

It is worth mentioning that cabotage has been regulated in the EU states by the European Parliament's 1072/2009 resolution since 2009. Its sole purpose is to impose cabotage restrictions on EU freight carriers. In brief, to all legal intents and purposes cabotage is allowed in two variants: cabotage in the country of the first unloading of international shipments, and cabotage in other EU member states following the unloading of international shipments. Cabotage may be performed by anyone who holds an EU license as defined in regulations.  

Unfortunately, EU provisions do not relate to offences and fines for not observing cabotage regulations. This matter is governed by domestic regulations. And that means that fines and subjects to be fined will be different in each EU member state. The Swedish government is trying to make the most of it by preparing a legislatory act increasing responsibility of foreign freight carriers for breaching cabotage regulations.

It must be said that Scandinavian countries face the cabotage problem right from the start; and this weakens their transport and freight forwarding market considerably. Swedish and Norwegian companies and organizations claim that foreign hauliers fail to observe the EU restrictions on cabotage.

In summer 2013, scientists from the Lund University conducted research on cabotage in Sweden. Over 163,000 reported cases showed that 2,700 foreign trucks never left Sweden, and another 2,202 were suspected of illegal cabotage.

Some time ago in Norway, an application was started which allows the man in the street to follow and register foreign trucks on their smart phone. Data collected in this manner is to help make a map of truck routes in Norway and detect a potential abuse of cabotage.

The recent protest of Swedish drivers was the last drop of bitterness. They announced that between November 24 and December 24 they would stop their trucks two times a day at any place they exactly would be. They wanted to focus attention of the media and public opinion on the current cabotage problem. This proved successful as it was revealed in the media that the Swedish government has prepared a draft law toughening regulations that concern foreign hauliers' responsibility for breaching cabotage rules.

The act determines that the penalties for breaching cabotage rules applying in Sweden will rise as of 1 January 2015. Any breach of norms defined by the above-mentioned EU regulation will be sanctioned with a fine of up to SEK 40,000 (€4,400). What is more, there will be more pressure on the way and frequency of inspections to be carried out. Inspections are to be unexpected and carried out at random, also beyond official points of inspection. Since 1 March 2015, Swedish police will be entitled to detain a driver’s car keys and apply wheel clamps if a fine is not paid up or when a vehicle is not road worthy. Criminal liability is also changing. Pursuant to new regulations a driver breaching cabotage regulations and their employer will be financially jointly responsible.

It must be pointed out that any law-abiding foreign haulier with complete shipping documents may have an easy mind. To execute orders promptly in Scandinavia one must be very familiar with the law currently in force and be able to plan effectively and supervise the fleet movements - it is critical due to precise and exact amounts and time limits of cabotage shipments in a given territory. Local transporting companies operating in the Scandinavian market should also hold additional carrier civil liability cabotage insurance. It needs to be checked before we entrust our goods to a haulier.


Patryk Szymański

Vice President of Scandinavian Express



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