Transport Regulation Unit

Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) implements the Goods Vehicles Licensing of Operators Act (Northern Ireland) 2010. This legislation was brought in to address the low rate of compliance by Northern Ireland (NI) Heavy Goods Vehicle operators.


TRU issues goods vehicle operator's licences and holds public hearings on all matters relating to goods vehicle operator licensing. TRU seeks to ensure that licence holders meet the standards set for entry into the commercial vehicle operator industry and to minimise the environmental and road safety impact around goods vehicle operating centres. TRU has the power to curtail, suspend and revoke operator's licences and in extreme cases disqualify people from holding a goods vehicle operator's licence.

What the law requires

The law requires that all vehicles with a gross weight over 3500kg, used to transport goods as part of a business or trade, must be covered by a goods vehicle operator’s licence. The law, which came into effect on 1 July 2012, requires all operators to sign up to a series of undertakings. The Department has the power to impound vehicles if they are discovered on the public road without a goods vehicle operator's licence when one is required.

Legislative background

The Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act, introduced to the NI Assembly in May 2008, completed passage through the Assembly and became an Act on 22 January 2010. The Act amended the Department’s powers in relation to the regulation of goods vehicle operators, bringing NI largely (but not wholly) into line with the current practice in place in Great Britain. The detailed provisions were introduced through a series of sets of regulations.

Applications and guidance

Application forms and guidance for goods vehicles operator's licences are available at the links below.

In addition further guidance is available in the following DVA booklets:

Change to financial standing from 1 January 2018

The law requires the Department to be satisfied that goods vehicle operators have sufficient financial resources to run their businesses and maintain their vehicles properly.

On 1 January 2018 revised financial standing levels for standard national and international operator licences came into force.  The rates are calculated annually against the Euro exchange rate as required under Regulation EC 1071/2009.

The levels have increased in 2018 because of a change in the exchange rate.

Standard Operator’s Licence

  Previous rates Rates from 1 January 2018
First vehicle £7,850 £7,950
Additional vehicles £4,350 £4,400

Restricted Operator’s Licence

The rates of finance needed to support a restricted licence are not set by EC Regulations. From 1 January 2018 there is no change to the finance which must be available to support restricted licence applications and licences.

First vehicle £3,100
Additional vehicles £1,700

Vehicle Operator Licensing (VOL)

Improving online services

The new VOL system will make it quicker and more convenient for new and existing goods vehicle operators to apply for and make changes to their operator’s licence.

Operators and new applicants who use the new system will be able to:

  • amend your details (e.g. safety inspection provider)
  • add, update or remove transport managers
  • export your vehicle data
  • fill in your application online (then print, sign & post)
  • receive help and support with completing your application (almost 90% are currently incomplete when submitted, resulting in delays)
  • wait less time for complete application decisions
  • upload documents online, including bank statements

DfI staff who process applications will have access to:

  • electronic casework management
  • improved search facilities
  • an interface with Companies House records

Browsers required for using VOL

To use the new VOL service you'll need to have a modern and secure browser installed to access the new services and to make sure that we can protect your data.

You can use any of the following browsers:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 11
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Google Chrome 38 or later (52 or 53 recommended)
  • Firefox 27 or later (48, 49 or ESR 45 recommended)
  • Safari 7 or later
  • Mobile Safari 7 or later
  • Chrome Mobile 38 or later

If you’re not sure what browser you have you can check which version you use and update to one which will work with VOL by visiting What Browser?

VOL Services

Manage your goods vehicle operator's licence

If you used the old service, sign in using the same details.

Use this service to check, change (vary) or update your goods vehicle operator's licence.

Apply for a goods vehicle operator's licence

Before you start:

You need:

  • a debit or credit card to pay any fees
  • your username and password if you've used the service before

You can register in the service if you've not used it before.

Other ways to apply

Download and fill in the application form GV(NI)79.

Find lorry operators

Search by name, address or licence number.

Check goods vehicle operator's licence applications and decisions

Enter an operator name, licence number, publication number, street, town or postcode.

Applications and Decisions

The Department is required to produce a publication titled 'Applications and Decisions' (As & Ds) which contains details of all goods vehicle operator's licence applications and decisions made (during a given period).

This publication can be sent on request to statutory objectors in NI. The list of statutory objectors is kept as up to date as possible. If you would like to receive a copy of the ‘As & Ds’ please contact the Central Licensing Office to be added to the circulation list:

Central Licensing Office
PO Box 180
Tel:      0113 202 6147

Published applications and decisions

Copies of As & Ds are available for download below.

Previous Applications and Decisions may be requested from the Transport Regulation Unit at the address below:

Transport Regulation Unit
Level 1, Causeway Exchange
1-7 Bedford Street,
Town Parks
Belfast BT2 7EG

Objecting to an application for a goods vehicle operator's licence

Objections can be made against any goods vehicle operator's licence application if the objector can prove that the applicant does not satisfy legal requirements. Objections must be put in writing to the Central Licensing Office within 21 days of a licence application being made public.

This document offers guidance to statutory objectors, individuals and businesses who wish to oppose goods vehicle operator's licence applications or to make complaints against the use of existing operating centres.  The guide also contains suggested templates to assist in lodging a representation or objection or complaint. 

A guide to making representations, objections and complaints


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