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What is bilateral transport and what does it involve?

>Bilateral transport is a kind of side effect of international cooperation and the globalization process. The economies of individual countries are closely interconnected. International transport plays a key role in maintaining the fluidity of trade and exchange of goods. What does bilateral transport have to do with all this? Read on to find out more.

What is bilateral transport?

Bilateral transport is a specific type of international transport that enables the movement of people or goods between two countries on the basis of mutual agreements. This is a key element in the structure of the global transport market, enabling the efficient and legally-compliant transport of goods, which is important for the economies of both countries involved. 

The development and regulations pertaining to bilateral transport are closely related to international policy, transport law and trade agreements. In some cases, this has a direct impact on relations between countries, the best example of which are the turmoil on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Legal basis for bilateral travel

International agreements concluded between countries, regulating the rules of transporting persons and goods, constitute the legal basis for bilateral transport. These bilateral agreements specify the conditions under which carriers from one country can carry out transport operations in the territory of another country, and vice versa. Key elements of these agreements include, but are not limited to:

  • market access issues
  • taxation rules
  • safety requirements
  • environmental standards

It is also important for carriers to understand how these regulations affect everyday transport activities, i.e. planning routes, determining tariffs and managing the risks associated with the transport of goods.

The importance of bilateral transport in international trade 

Bilateral transport plays a key role in international trade, enabling the effective exchange of goods between countries. Thanks to it, it is possible to deliver products quickly and efficiently. This is particularly important in the era of globalization, where transport time and costs have a direct impact on a company’s competitiveness.

International trade and bilateral transport contribute to building economic ties between countries, which may strengthen international relations and cooperation. Financially, effective bilateral transport also contributes to increasing the GDP of the countries participating in the exchange, which emphasizes its importance not only for individual enterprises, but also for economies at the macroeconomic level.

Bilateral agreements in international transport

Bilateral agreements in international transport are the foundation on which transport between specific countries is based. These are agreements that:

  • define the framework for cooperation
  • regulate issues related to market access
  • impose working conditions for professional drivers
  • define vehicle technical standards
  • standardize eco-friendly principles

One may be tempted to say that bilateral agreements constitute the foundation of bilateral transport. They provide carriers from both countries with equal operating conditions, which promotes fair competition and the development of the transport sector.

Bilateral transport in practice

In practice, bilateral transport plays an important role in the daily activities of transport companies, enabling them to carry out the cross-border transport of goods. Carriers must keep up to date with changes in regulations to ensure their operations comply with current legal requirements. Effective bilateral transport requires both knowledge of the law, but also the ability to apply it in practice in the context of international road transport. Nevertheless, in recent years we have observed strong trends in the unification of the transport sector in the EU countries.

Implementation of the Mobility Package

Recent years have brought about significant changes in the regulations regarding international transport in the European Union. This, thanks to the Mobility Package, which has been a real challenge for transport companies since 2020. The scope of changes included driver working time, standardization of tachographs, and even cabotage rules. The abovementioned changes also apply to bilateral transport, especially in terms of determining professional driver salaries and regulating their daily working time.

Driver salaries in bilateral transport

Salaries in bilateral transport should reflect not only working time, but also conditions specific to international transport. The most frequently cited example is time spent outside the home country. The Act on Driver Working Time specifies that a driver performing official duties as part of international road transport is not on a business trip in the traditional sense. This has a direct impact on the method of calculating per diems and lump sums for accommodation. When determining pay, you should take into account not only national minimum wage regulations, but also the pay standards applicable in the country through which the transport takes place.

Additional loading and unloading

The mobility package introduced regulations that allow two additional operations to be performed without changing the transport status to something other than bilateral. This is important for carriers, who can thus increase the efficiency of their operations without additional administrative or financial burdens. For example, the driver can perform additional loading or unloading while returning to the base country, which allows for better use of transport potential and the optimization of costs.

Driving without cargo

One of the biggest nightmares of the transport industry, which sometimes cannot be avoided, is returning to the base country without cargo. Such journeys, although they seem less effective, are also part of bilateral transport logistics. Regulations allow such journeys to be carried out without additional formalities. To be more precise, an “empty” journey as part of bilateral transport may be excluded from posting.

Bilateral transport – the foundation of international trade

Bilateral transport is an important element of the international supply chain, playing a key role in global trade and logistics. In the face of constant changes in regulations and growing market requirements, carriers must constantly adapt their strategies and processes to current requirements. Poland is bound by bilateral transport agreements with EU member states, Turkey, Moldova and even Ukraine. It is hard to imagine the functioning of national economies in the modern world without bilateral transport.


What is bilateral transport?

Bilateral international transport of goods or persons to or from the carrier’s territory.

How did the mobility package affect bilateral transport?

The mobility package changed the regulations on driver working and rest time, pay and business trips.

What are the benefits of bilateral transport?

Companies taking advantage of bilateral transport gain access to new markets, can optimize routes and increase the efficiency and profitability of transport.