Last reviewed/updated 27 March 2024

Recent news

20 March 2024 | The Port of Dover in England will re-introduce the Boatyard operation procedure on certain days/times over the Easter 2024 period. Further information in Dover section below.    

29 January 2024 | European Council and Parliament provisionally agree to revise some driving and rest time rules for occasional services (i.e. coach tours). The changes are expected to become law and enter into force in 2024. Further information below.

Coach Transport in Europe

Coach transport is provided by an European ecosystem of thousands of coach operators that get commuters to work and children to school, keep conference venues busy and provide safe and convenient transport for some of Europe’s most valuable visitors. ETOA’s membership includes over 300 group tourism operators.

Coaches are one of the most efficient forms of collective transport with low-emissions. Given their weight, they are often subject to similar rules to road haulage vehicles. Until recently, that was true of driving hours and rest times, but will soon partly change thanks to effective lobbying, notably by ETOA’s partner, IRU, with our full support. There is still a shortage of trained coach drivers: better regulation helps as it allows better tour design.

Coach tourism provides destinations with a means for product diversification. Coach can access properties and attractions not easily reached by public transport. Cultural tourism, a European strength, often comes in groups who require coach transport, especially for first-time visitors from long-haul markets. It is in Europe’s interests to support the sector in its transition to low-carbon operations, and help it retain its value-adding appeal to leisure operators and the MICE market.

From a practical perspective, manufacturers need legal certainty and joined-up policy from EU to local levels to justify investment. Inter-city coach transport for groups with luggage requires diesel-fueled fleets, whose vehicles will still need city access, so ‘electric only’ policies need to be tempered with pragmatism: adaptation is a function of cost, vehicle availability and adequate charging infrastructure.

Operational Information

The sections below cover EU/national regulation on operating occasional bus/coach services (i.e. coach tours).

For information on coach access in certain destinations, see our City Access webpage.

For information on operating tours between the EU and UK (and UK to Norway and Switzerland) see the Coach section on our Brexit webpage.    

Driving Hours and Rest Time rules

Current rules on driving and rest time periods

  • Driving in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (EFTA member states)
    • EU rules apply if whole journey within EEA and EEA to Switzerland.
    • AETR rules apply in these countries for coaches originating from outside EEA (e.g. Switzerland and UK). AETR rules are mostly the same as EU rules but some differences apply. Further information on AETR here published by UK Government.

EU Mobility Package 1 revised rules on driving and rest time periods, tachograph, posting of drivers and access to the profession for passenger and goods transport.


Until now, EU rules on driving and rest time periods applicable to coach tourism drivers (occasional services) have mirrored those for the road haulage industry and regular coach services (i.e. scheduled).

In May 2023, the European Commission proposed revising some rules specifically for coach tours. In particular, flexibility on break and starting rest period for drivers and an alignment of rules between international and national occasional services (i.e. 12-day rule).

Following compromise amendments by the European Parliament and Council, the changes below were provisionally agreed on 29 January 2024 (European Council announcement and provisional agreement). Current rules on minimum duration of breaks or rest periods or maximum driving times will not change.


Changes provisionally agreed

Weekly Rest Period: Possibility to postpone the weekly rest period for up to 12 days on national occasional services (i.e. 12-day rule to be applicable to a single country tour as is currently the case for multi-country tours).

Daily Breaks: Option to split the 45-minute break into 2 breaks of at least 15 mins (i.e. 20 and 25 mins would be permitted as well as 15 and 30 mins).

Daily Rest Period: Possibility to postpone the start of daily rest period by at most 1 hour, provided that the total driving time on that day does not exceed 7 hours, and the delayed start of the daily rest period is within 25 hours after the end of previous daily/weekly rest period. This option can only be exercised once on tours of at least 6 days’ duration or twice on tours of at least 8 days duration.

Journey Forms: European Commission to assess paper journey forms (waybills) becoming digital by the end of 2026. Further information on journey form requirements can be found on pages 14/15 of the provisional agreement.

The changes are expected to become law and enter into force in 2024. This webpage will be updated when date announced for law in force.


UK operations

Currently the UK follows the EU’s rules on driving and rest time periods. However, the changes above once become law require separate UK approval to apply in the UK.


Smart Tachograph version 2 (SMT2) will be required to be fitted in all coaches travelling in the EU (new and existing). Further information from European Commission.

Coaches without SMT2 installed, the deadline to retrofit is either:

  • 31 December 2024 – currently fitted with an analogue or digital non-smart tachograph
  • 18 August 2025 – currently fitted with smart tachograph version 1

The deadline also applies to coaches on journeys between the EU and UK (announcement from UK Government). UK registered coaches operating only in the UK will not have to comply with the deadlines above.

Non-destination Coach Operations

Below is information affecting coach operations outside of destinations. 

For information on coach access in certain destinations, see our City Access webpage, which includes upcoming changes in certain cities, towns and villages.

The Boatyard operation procedure will be re-introduced on these days/times over the Easter 2024 period to manage peak traffic at the Port. Live updates will be published on the Port’s X webpage   

While best efforts have been made to verify the accuracy of the information above, it should be used as guidance only. If you have updated information please contact

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