As a truck driver spending long hours on the road, you’re aware of the rules and regulations of the industry. For the most part, these are there for yours and the public’s benefit. But knowing and understanding the web of regulations can be difficult in the extreme, and cause drivers and operators problems down the road. |
I hope that this brief article will help refresh veteran drivers’ and operators’ knowledge about their Operator’s Licence, and help newcomers better understand the licencing requirements for HGV drivers.
What is an Operator’s Licence?
The stated aim of the Operator’s Licence is to ensure that trucks are used in a proper and safe manner when on public roads, and also to protect the environment. Full details can be found in the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995, the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, the Road Transport Operator Regulations 2011, and the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) (Fees) Regulations.
Who Needs an Operator’s Licence?
Operators who do haulage jobs for commercial purposes on public roads with heavy goods vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes (gross weight) need an Operator’s Licence. This applies even if the vehicle is rented for a day. Failure to hold an Operator’s Licence can result in a fine and vehicle impoundment.
The Operator’s Licence is not a driving licence and a driver’s licence is not needed to hold one.
If you’re an independent driver, then you need the licence - which must be in your name. If you’re employed as a driver by a business, then the owner or agent must have an Operator’s Licence for the entire fleet.
Note: Some vehicles do not need an Operator’s Licence. For a summary of exemptions please contact the FTA.
If you do haulage jobs as a private contractor or are responsible for a fleet of trucks, you know the importance of adhering to all regulations. Failure to do so can have very damaging consequences.
In order to maintain your Operator’s Licence and ensure its renewal (every 5 years), you must comply with the following (and maintain records to prove your compliance):
• Vehicles must be taxed, insured and have a valid MOT. • Drivers must have a valid HGV driver’s license. • All vehicles and trailers covered by the license must be roadworthy and not overloaded. • Compliance with driver hours and tachograph regulations is obligatory. • All vehicles must undergo a daily walk around check including a written checklist before beginning a day’s work. • Vehicle maintenance and driver check records must be kept for at least 15 months. • The Operator’s Licence specifies the number of vehicles it covers. Exceeding this number is not allowed. • Trucks may only operate from the depots named on the licence • The Traffic Commissioner must be informed within 28 days regarding: o Convictions of licence holder or employees. o Alterations to maintenance programs. o Change in company ownership or structure. o Significant changes in financial status - such as bankruptcy.
Operator’s Licence Categories
There are three license categories:
1. Standard National License – valid for haulage jobs in the UK only. 2. Standard International License – valid for international and national haulage jobs. 3. Restricted License – for the transport of goods related to license holder’s own business.
I hope that this brief overview has been of help. For a more detailed explanation of the matter, see the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency Operator Licensing Guide on the FTA’s website.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage jobs with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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