Driver Shortage Leads to New ‘DRS’ Charge

July 07, 2021

Driver Shortage Leads to New ‘Driver Retention Surcharge’ (DRS)

The driver shortage is now commonly accepted to be at crisis point in the UK, particularly for container transport where HGV’s licences are required.

An ageing workforce, with little incentive for younger employees to choose the role, has led to a decline in driver numbers over recent years, which has accelerated since the beginning of the pandemic.

An estimated shortfall of 60,000 UK drivers pre-Covid is now reported to be in excess of 100,000. This has led to a widespread Driver Retention Surcharge (DRS) being introduced this month by carriers, hauliers and logistics providers.

Many factors have led container transport operators to this point:

  • EU drivers returning home post Brexit.
  • A Reduction in EU hauliers working in the UK.
  • Port congestion issues.
  • Covid procedures.
  • Retiring drivers; an HGV drivers average is 55 and  less than 1% are under 25.
  • Agency driver legislation changes
  • Increased demand on drivers from the non-containerised sector.
When is DRS? How much? And how will it be applied?

We expect the driver retention surcharge to be effective across the board between the middle and end of this month (July 2021).

On average we are expecting this to be a cost of around £75.00 per import container delivery and £25.00 per export container delivery.

In some cases general container transport prices are being uplifted to include the fee and in other cases the fee is identified and charged separately as a surcharge.


Last month, the RHA (Road Haulage Association) wrote a letter, countersigned by 21 chairman and CEO’s of major organisations, to prime minister Boris Johnson outlining the impact this was having on supply chains.

The main areas they requested to be addressed were temporary worker visas for HGV drivers, adding HGV drivers to the Home Office Shortage Occupation List, and for an urgent government task force to be set up to work with the transport industry to address this.

Without government intervention, the feeling is this crisis will continue to get worse before it gets better.


Atlantic Pacific continue to work diligently to mitigate supply chain disruption during these extremely difficult times. Should you require further information on the above, then please do not hesitate to contact us.  



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