As of 4 December 2011, the international carriage of passengers by coach and bus is governed by Regulation (EC) No 1073/2009. This regulation replaces Regulation (EEC) 684/92 and Regulation (EC) No 12/98. The latest regulation makes the rules clear and less complex, improves enforcement and avoids unnecessary administrative burden.
The international carriage of passengers by coach and bus is conditional on the possession of a Community licence. Any road passenger transport operator possessing a valid Community licence, issued by the Member State of establishment, has free access to the whole international EU road transport market.
This document is issued by the designated competent authority in each Member State provided that the carrier:
- is authorised to undertake carriage in the Member State of establishment;
- satisfies the conditions laid down in EU rules on access to the profession;
- meets legal requirements regarding the standards of drivers and vehicles.
Carriers are required to carry a certified true copy of the Community licence on board each of their vehicles, in order to facilitate effective controls by enforcement authorities, especially those outside the Member State in which the carrier is established.
The Regulation defines the different types of coach and bus service and the specific requirements they must fulfil to access the market:
- regular services, which require a national authorisation issued by a competent authority;
- special regular services (e.g. the transport of workers or schoolchildren), which shall not require a national authorisation, if covered by a contract between the organiser and the transport operator;
- occasional services (e.g. the transport of a group of young people to a concert in another Member State, or a one-off tourist trip), which only require a journey form;
- own-account transport, meaning transport which is not for hire or reward, and related authorisations and rules, which are exempt of the authorisation system, but require a certificate issued by the Member State in which the vehicle is registered.
Cabotage operations (national passenger transport operations carried out by non-resident operators) are also governed by Regulation (EC) 1073/2009. Any carrier who operates road passenger transport services and who holds a Community licence can operate cabotage operations for the following services: special regular services, covered by a contract between the organiser and the carrier; occasional services; and regular services, in the course of a regular international service.
Public passenger transport services are governed by Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007. This regulation aims at providing guidance on how competent authorities may act in the field of public passenger transport to guarantee the provision of this service of general interest. It also regulates how public procurement should be organised.
On 1 December 2010, the European Parliament and Council reached an agreement on the rights of passengers travelling by bus and coach. A set of basic passenger rights including non-discrimination, adequate information to passengers, in particular those with reduced mobility, apply to all passengers. Additional rights (assistance, accommodation, compensation, etc.) will be granted to passengers travelling long distances (more than 250 km).