What is a transportation license and how to get it?

What is a transportation license and how to get it?
Marek Cieślak

Marek Cieślak

CEO CGO Finance

A transportation license allows you to provide transportation services legally. Is it always necessary? Who should have it and how to get it? We explain everything in details in the article below.

Table of Contents

Transportation license – definition

A transportation license is a document that allows performing road transport for profit within the country or abroad. It is issued by the relevant public administration authority:

  • at the request of the entrepreneur,
  • for a specific business activity defined in the application.

The Road Transport Act of 2013 governs transport license issuance. Another important document is Regulation No 1071/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council. The transport license enables providing transport services within the country (national transport license). It is also one of the key documents in the procedure for obtaining a permit for international transport. The latter is known as an international transport license or a community license.

Who can apply for a transportation license?

To obtain a transport license, the applicant must meet the following conditions:

  • be a natural person or an entrepreneur,
  • have a registered office or place of residence in Poland,
  • have appropriate knowledge and skills necessary for performing the profession of road carrier,
  • provide financial resources for conducting business activities in road transport,
  • have vehicles that meet specified technical requirements.

National transportation license

The Act requires all carriers who provide commercial transport in Poland to have a national transportation license if they:

  • transport goods with a permissible maximum weight exceeding 3.5 tons,
  • or transport passengers (more than 9 persons including the driver) using buses.

A license is not required if the entrepreneur provides transport services:

  • only with vehicles with a permissible maximum weight below 3.5 tons,
  • for his own use, e.g., transportation between company headquarters,
  • for transporting less than 9 people – including the driver.

International transportation license

The community license allows for the operations of commercial international road transport. It is an administrative decision of the General Inspectorate of Road Transport. The license is issued upon the application of a person who has:

  • permission to practice the profession of a carrier,
  • experience in domestic transport. You must have at least 3 years of experience in commercial road transport in Poland,
  • a valid national license,
  • a certificate of professional competence in road transport.

An additional requirement considered in the license issuance process is the company’s situation. An individual applying for an international license should have appropriate financial security. His company should have an impeccable reputation and be based in the EU.

When applying for an international license, you must list all vehicles that will be used for international transport.

Procedure for issuing a national transportation license

The procedure for obtaining a national license begins with applying for permission to work as a professional road carrier. You should submit the application to the appropriate County Office in person. There is also a possibility to do it online. The application must include:

  • a copy of the professional competence certificate of the transport manager,
  • documents confirming the financial liquidity of the company, e.g., financial statements,
  • a certificate of no criminal record,
  • proof of payment of the fee for license issuance.

The administrative fee for granting permission to practice the profession of road carrier includes fees for its issuance, vehicle registration, and issuance of extracts. The one-time fee is 1000 PLN.

A fee of 110 PLN must be paid for each car used for transport. The final amount will depend on the number of vehicles reported. The procedure for obtaining the permit may also incur additional costs. These concern fees for preparatory courses and exams for professional competence certificates. The permit is issued for an indefinite period.

The amount of the fee for a national license depends on the period for which it is to be issued and amounts to:

  • 800 PLN– fee for a license valid from 2 to 15 years,
  • 900 PLN – fee for a license valid from 15 to 30 years,
  • 1000 PLN – fee for a license valid from 30 to 50 years.

The application undergoes thorough formal analysis. As a rule, the procedure takes up to 30 days. This period may change in case of any formal deficiencies in the application. If all formalities are completed, the waiting time for the decision may take several working days.

Procedure for issuing an international transportation license

You can apply for a license at the appropriate office or online. Remember to indicate the period for which you are applying for a license and attach:

  • a copy of the professional competence certificate of the transport manager,
  • a statement confirming the positive reputation of the company. It should be submitted by members of the governing body of a legal entity, managing partners of a general or limited partnership, and in the case of other entrepreneurs – the person conducting business activities,
  • a national license,
  • proof of payment of the application fee.

After submitting the application, the competent authority verifies the correctness of the documents. In case of formal deficiencies, the applicant will be requested to complete them. If this deadline expires without action or if the applicant exceeds the specified timeframe, the case will not proceed further. The applicant will be informed about the decision. If the application is complete, the authority issues a decision to grant the license for a specified period.

An international transportation license can be issued for a period of 5 to 10 years. Its cost is as follows:

a. for transporting goods:

  • for up to 5 years – 4000 PLN + 440 PLN for each registered vehicle,
  • for up to 10 years – 8000 PLN + 880 PLN for each registered vehicle.

b. for transport of passengers:

  • for up to 5 years – 3600 PLN + 396 PLN for each registered vehicle,
  • for up to 10 years – 7200 PLN + 792 PLN for each registered vehicle

The usual waiting time for the issuance of the license is one month. It may extend to two months in exceptional situations. In case of a negative decision, the applicant has the right to appeal within 14 days from the date of receiving the decision.

Freight forwarding license vs transportation license

A freight forwarding license allows for activities involving intermediary services in transportation. It authorizes intermediation and organization of shipments. Conversely, a transportation license is permission for the direct provision of transportation services, including the transport of goods or passengers. Additionally, a freight forwarder:

  • cannot physically transport goods – he acts as intermediary in organizing shipments,
  • creates a network connecting cargo shippers with carriers who will perform the transport,
  • develops plans and oversees transport organization. This includes selecting carriers, negotiating transport terms, managing documentation, and monitoring the entire logistics process,
  • is not responsible for the actual transportation of goods,
  • is responsible for ensuring that carriers deliver the cargo to designated locations.

In the case of a transportation license, the carrier:

  • directly performs the transport service,
  • is responsible for the physical transportation of goods or passengers,
  • executes the transport service using his own transportation means,
  • has the obligation to load, transport, and unload cargo or transport passengers from the starting point to the destination,
  • is personally responsible for the safety and condition of goods or passengers during transport. Hence, he should ensure insurance coverage for the operations.

A freight forwarding license is not limited by the size of the load or the route of transport. Freight forwarders can organize both domestic and international transport. This is not influenced by the chosen means of transport.

What is the intra-community delivery of goods? Find out more from this article.

Can you lose a transportation license?

A road carrier holding a transportation license must meet certain conditions during the whole time of conducting business. For this purpose, the permitting authority may carry out inspections. These inspections take place at least every 5 years. If an inspection reveals any irregularities, the authority may demand to restore the conditions enabling the lawful conduct of business. The carrier must comply with the respective summons within the specified timeframe. Otherwise, the supervisory authority may suspend or even revoke the license.

The license may be also revoked for violating road transport conditions. A detailed list of violations is available in the relevant regulations. For example in the annexes to the Road Transport Act.

Serious violations may trigger a procedure to assess the entrepreneur’s reputation. A loss of good reputation may lead to the suspension of the entrepreneur’s transport license. Regular serious or very serious violations may also prompt a good reputation assessment.

What is a transportation license and how to get it? Summary

The transport industry is connected with high risk. Another difficulty is the responsibility for transported goods or people. It is crucial to have all the permits required to legally provide such a service.

If you find the above topic interesting and want to know more about it, do not hesitate to contact us. Our experts are ready to help you.

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Marek Cieślak

CEO CGO Finance