Cabotage by passenger transport companies under joint official supervision in Rovaniemi – inspections reveal shortcomings in market operation prerequisite compliance

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, the Regional State Administrative Agency’s area of responsibility concerning occupational safety and health, the Finnish Tax Administration, Finnish Customs, and the police conducted a joint supervision exercise concerning the activities of foreign passenger transport companies in Finland. The supervision exercise focused on foreign transport companies that provide bus transport services within Finland. The exercise was conducted in Rovaniemi between 11 and 12 December 2019.

Passenger transport cabotage refers to the provision of commercial bus transport services within a country by a transport company whose domicile is not located in said country. In addition to international and EU regulations, cabotage transport is also subject to domestic regulations. 

“Recently, there have been cases that have highlighted the need for assessing the share and regulatory compliance of the cabotage services provided by foreign transport companies in Finland. A decision was made to assess these with a comprehensive joint supervision exercise conducted by Finnish authorities. The objective of cabotage transport regulations is to harmonise the necessary prerequisites for operating in the transport sector and to ensure traffic safety,” explains Chief Adviser Mikko Västilä from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency. 

Cabotage transport service supervision – a joint effort by multiple authorities 

The supervision of the general requirements and documentation concerning cabotage transports is the responsibility of Traficom, and it includes such areas as traffic and transport permits, cabotage supervision documents, and the related conditions for granting the necessary approvals. 

The police, Finnish Customs and the Finnish Border Guard are responsible for the supervision of all transport service-related road control measures, such as drivers’ driving and rest periods, driving rights and professional qualifications. 

During the supervision exercise, Finnish Customs was responsible for the inspection and supervision of documents concerning international transport activities and vehicles. Finnish Customs was also responsible for assessing the regulatory compliance of the fuels used by the vehicles that were stopped during the supervision exercise, as well as the supervision of imported goods that are subject to bans or restrictions in Finland. 

The Finnish Tax Administration is responsible for ensuring that the companies that provide cabotage transport services have fulfilled their tax-related obligations, notifications and payments in Finland in the appropriate manner. The Finnish Tax Administration is also responsible for assessing the possible tax obligations that foreign drivers may have in Finland. 

During the supervision exercise, the Regional State Administrative Agency’s area of responsibility concerning occupational safety and health focused on the use of foreign employees in Finland. Here, foreign employee refers to a person who is not a Finnish citizen. The purpose of occupational safety and health inspections is to supervise the activities of employers. This area of supervision focuses on the employer’s compliance with the obligations prescribed in the Aliens Act or the Act on Posting Workers, the minimum terms and conditions for employee relationships, and the regulations concerning working conditions. Key areas of supervision include the employees’ right to work, their minimum wages and other terms, how their working times have been arranged, and their accident insurance. 

27 international bus transports inspected during joint supervision exercise 

During the supervision exercise between 11 and 12 December 2019, a total of 27 passenger transports that were conducted using buses owned by foreign passenger transport companies were inspected. In general, the inspections revealed that the foreign companies’ operations within Finland were significant in volume and that these operations were primarily conducted using very modern equipment. However, the inspections also revealed some deficiencies in how these operations were implemented in practice. These deficiencies were related to such areas as the documentation included in the transports and the compliance with driving and resting period regulations. The supervision exercise revealed the following deficiencies: 

  • 3 unauthorised transport operations 
  • 1 minor forgery 
  • in addition, one transport operation was interrupted due to a violation of driving and resting regulations, and a written warning was also issued on the matter 

The Finnish Tax Administration collected comparative data for tax supervision purposes. The purpose of this is to ensure that the companies that provide cabotage transport services have fulfilled their tax-related obligations, notifications and payments in Finland in the appropriate manner. The Finnish Tax Administration will also assess the possible tax obligations that the drivers may have in Finland. 

Finnish Customs collected fuel samples from 19 buses. 

The supervision exercise revealed that the drivers employed by the foreign transport companies fulfilled the necessary work permission obligations. The results concerning the supervision of the employees’ other minimum employment terms and their employers’ obligations will be published at a later date. The supervision of the Act on the Contractor’s Obligations and Liability when Work is Contracted Out was used to assess the service chains related to the inspected companies, and this supervision will continue beyond this exercise. 

“It is important that we ensure that there is a unified set of prerequisites for the transport companies involved in the sector, as it is a vital and significant part of the transport services market, which is set to become increasingly international in the future. This way, we can be sure that these companies operate in a responsible way. A joint supervision exercise that is conducted by every authority related to this sector is an efficient and comprehensive method for supervising all of these interconnected factors at the same time,” emphasises Västilä. 

Further information 

Finnish Transport and Communications Agency: Chief Adviser Mikko Västilä, mikko.vastila@traficom.fi, tel. +358 29 534 5584 

Finnish Customs: Senior Customs Officer Jarkko Fagerström jarkko.fagerstrom@tulli.fi, tel.  +358 40 3324 848. 

Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland: Inspector Niko Huru, niko.huru@avi.fi, tel. +358 29 501 7700 

Lapland Police Department: Police Sergeant Jarkko Rytilahti, tel. +358 400 310 534 

Finnish Tax Administration: Head of Compliance Control Tarja Valsi, tel. +358 29 512 4449