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Polish Transport Sector Shows Resilience Despite Challenges: Number of International Permits and Fleet Size Increases

TSLPolish Transport Sector Shows Resilience Despite Challenges: Number of International Permits and Fleet Size Increases

Poland’s transport sector once again proved last year that it constitutes a robust branch of the economy, despite the fact that market conditions were and still are not the easiest. Increasing operating costs, declining freight rates and rising road charges are just a few of the major challenges carriers face every day. However, the latest GITD data for the year 2023 indicates a renewed increase in the total number of valid licenses for international transport, which is necessary to perform paid transport beyond our country’s borders. That number increased by 1,000 from the previous year to 45,600[1]. There was also an increase in the number of licenses issued for vehicles over 3.5 tons, reaching for the first time in history a record level of over 300,000 units.

“We need to remember that even though these figures indicate an increase in the number of permits for transport operations and licenses for vehicles, this does not mean that all authorized vehicles are actively performing this type of transport, especially given the current challenging market situation for transporters,”explains Mateusz Włoch, development and training expert at Inelo, part of the Eurowag Group.

More than 4000 new licenses in international transport

The license for international transport of goods, commonly known as the international transport license, is issued by GITD upon the transporter’s request, to which a list of heavy-duty vehicles and a series of declarations concerning drivers, exploitation base or non-criminal records of owners and transport managers should be attached. Obtaining a license requires having a permit to operate as a road carrier. For this, the entrepreneur must demonstrate, among other things, an office within the European Union, financial capability, and professional competence confirmed by certification. In 2023, GITD issued over 4000 new licenses for international road transport. Meanwhile, over 3870 transport companies decided to renew these privileges[2].

“Getting a license for international transport of goods is a complex process. On the one hand, fulfilling many formalities and the obligation to demonstrate financial ability can hinder a company’s entry into foreign markets. On the other hand, the obligations imposed on transport companies limit the number of carriers lacking knowledge or financial resources needed to conduct this type of business. GITD data shows that there is no shortage of transport companies in Poland that meet all the requirements. The number of international carriers has been increasing in recent years, and currently, nearly 45,600 entities have a valid license. This means that their number has increased by over 1,000 annually, and over the last two years, it has increased by as many as 7,700 new licenses (45,565 in 2023 compared to 37,860 in 2021). It should be noted that the increase in their number was also influenced by new regulations, which since May 2022 have imposed the necessity to obtain a license on companies performing international, paid transport of goods with vehicles of 2.5 to 3.5 tons total weight,” explains Mateusz Włoch, a development and training expert at Inelo, part of the Eurowag Group.

To add, the amount required to demonstrate a carrier’s financial ability depends on the type of trucks owned. For the first vehicle with a total weight of over 3.5 tons, the minimum amount is 9,000 euros. For each additional vehicle, the carrier must have financial resources of at least 5,000 euros. Lower amounts are required for popular vans, i.e., trucks with a total weight of less than 3.5 tons, where for the first vehicle, ownership of 1,800 euros must be demonstrated, and for each additional vehicle, 900 euros.

For issuing a license for international transport of goods for 5 years, the transporter must pay 4,000 PLN. If one decides for a license valid between 5 to 10 years, the cost is higher and amounts to 8,000 PLN.

Polish transport companies invest in a fleet

Every truck used in international road transport must be equipped with a license extract for transport. The cost of issuing one copy is 440 PLN for licenses issued for up to 5 years and for licenses valid for 5 to 10 years – 880 PLN. During a police or ITD check, the driver is obliged to present the original license extract. For not having the document, the driver faces a fine of 200 PLN, and the person managing the transport has to count on administrative proceedings and a fine of 500 PLN. Additionally, a transport company also has a fine of 500 PLN, and it should be remembered that abroad these fines can be much higher. At the end of December 2023, the total number of valid license extracts for international transport in circulation exceeded 341,000 units, of which almost 36 120 copies were for vehicles with a total weight from 2.5 to 3.5 tons[3]. On the other hand, in 2022 the total number of extracts was over 324 000 units, with 31 376 extracts issued for so-called buses. This refers to the issuance of almost 17 000 more license extracts year on year.

“The increase in the number of issued license extracts indicates that despite the difficult economic situation, transport companies want and continue to invest in the development of the Polish fleet. A trend that has been maintained for several years is also an increase in the average number of vehicles in Polish transport companies. In 2020, an average Polish carrier had 7 trucks, and in 2023 the average fleet size was already 7.5 vehicles. Interestingly, for the first time in history we are dealing with a situation where the number of license extracts for vehicles over 3.5 tons exceeded 300,000 and reached a record level. It is also worth emphasizing that a larger fleet is also the development of carriers’ operational capabilities, and with the development of the scale of their operations, it is good to remember tools that support the work of freight forwarders and drivers, among others, for settling drivers’ working time, TMS systems for transport management, and telematics, facilitating efficient planning of truck routes,” comments Kamil Wolański, Head of Experts Department, Inelo from the Eurowag Group.

[1] GITD, Report: Documents issued by the Chief Inspector of Road Transport from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, and valid in legal transaction as of December 31, 2023.

[2] As above.

[3] As above.

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