On 21 May 2022 the EU rules on operator licensing are changing. From that date anyone operating a light goods vehicle and/or trailer between 2.5 and 3.5 tons in an EU member state will be required to have a goods vehicle operator’s licence.
The changes will only apply to anyone operating a light goods vehicle for hire or reward. This means that goods, not owned by the operator, are being transported for payment.
The new rules will also apply to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The Department for Infrastructure is working to change the law to enable goods vehicle licences to be issued to anyone affected by these new rules.
What to do if you think you may be affected
Check that your business comes within the scope of the changes.
You will only be in-scope if you carry goods for other people in another EU member state (including the Republic of Ireland); and use vehicles between 2.5 and 3.5 tons maximum gross vehicle weight which are:
- vans or other light goods vehicles (LGVs; sometimes called ‘light commercial vehicles’)
- vans towing trailers
- cars towing trailers
If you are in-scope, you will need to either:
- add the relevant LGVs to your goods vehicle operator licence (if you already have one)
- get a goods vehicle operator licence for the first time
What to do if you need a new operator’s licence
There are a number of requirements which you must meet before you can apply for a goods vehicle operator’s licence. You must be prepared to agree to a number of undertakings to make arrangements for proper loading of vehicles, maintenance of records, etc.
You’ll need to prove that either you or your company have sufficient professional competence to run your operations safely and efficiently, particularly as regards:
- planning routes and scheduling delivery times
- managing your team of drivers and administration staff
- making sure drivers follow company and industry regulations
- arranging vehicle maintenance, MOTs and tax payments
- organising vehicle replacements
Professional competence is assessed by means of a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). You may already have this qualification.
If not, you’ll be able to either:
- use an existing member of staff (including yourself) who is not qualified as a transport manager, but has managed fleets of vehicles for at least 10 years before 20 August 2020
- employ someone with a transport manager qualification (called a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence - or ‘CPC’)
- hire in an external qualified transport manager
Option 1: use someone who does not have a Transport Manager CPC – the ‘Acquired Rights’ scheme
If you decide to use someone who does not have a Transport Manager CPC, they will need to prove they have at least 10 years of experience managing fleets of vehicles before 20 August 2020.
They’ll be able to apply to have their experience recognised as ‘acquired rights’ to be a transport manager. This means that they’ll be treated as having the Transport Manager CPC for a period of time.
They’ll be able to apply online later in 2021 to get acquired rights as a transport manager - they cannot do it yet. Sign up for email alerts to be told when they can apply.
The government has proposed they will have acquired rights until 20 May 2025, but this could change. During this time, they’ll need to pass a Transport Manager CPC exam.
After they’ve qualified, they’ll need to keep up a high-quality professional knowledge of transport industry rules and policies. They can take transport manager refresher courses to help them do this.
Option 2: employ someone with a transport manager qualification
You can employ someone with a Transport Manager CPC qualification.
You need to make sure they keep up a high-quality professional knowledge of transport industry rules and policies.
Option 3: hire in an external transport manager
You can ‘hire in’ an external transport manager. They’re not someone on your payroll, but they have a contract with you to act as your transport manager.
- have a contract with them that sets out the tasks they’ll perform as your transport manager
- make sure they only work for a maximum of 4 vehicle operators (including you), managing no more than 50 vehicles in total across all the operators
More information is available online at: Driver Vehicle Agency - The safe operator's guide.
Finance that you must have available
By law, you need to prove that you have access to a set amount of finance to run your business. The amount you need depends on how many vehicles you have.
You must have £1,600 available for the first vehicle in your fleet. You need an extra £800 per additional vehicle in your fleet.
You have a fleet of 5 vans.
You need to have £1,600 for the first van.
You then need £800 each for the remaining 4 vans (£800 × 4 = £3,200).
You need to prove you have access to funds of at least £4,800 (£1,600 + £3,200).
If you are running a mixed fleet of HGVs and LGVs the calculation will take account of the LGV rate.
Establishment in Northern Ireland
If you’re applying for a goods vehicle operator’s licence for LGVs only, you don’t have to meet the same requirements for an operating centre as would be necessary for HGVs.
You will need to provide an address within the UK where the original records of the business will be kept. You may have to provide access to these records from time to time. The records may be maintained electronically.
If you already have a goods vehicle operator’s licence, then you will need to apply for a variation to that licence for any in-scope LGVs you wish to operate in the EU (including the Republic of Ireland).
Cost of a licence
There are fees for operators licences and variations to those licences. If you apply for a new licence, or a make a publishable change to an existing licence, you must pay a one-off £254.00 application fee.
If your licence application is successful, you will then have to pay a licensing fee of £449.00 which covers a period of five years. A fee of £449.00 is also payable at the end of the five year period if you wish to continue your existing licence.