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Rules of Driving Businesses

The information and guidance in this section explains the rules for transport and driving businesses in the United Kingdom.

Key topics include popular services like, vehicle operator licence requirements, rules for goods vehicle operators, and how to manage commercial vehicles (e.g. lorries, buses, and coaches).

Transport and Driving Business Regulations

Being a goods vehicle operator, and keeping up with changes in company transport legislation, can be a challenge. This section helps to make it easier.

Transport and driving businesses that use goods vehicles above a certain weight need to have a goods vehicle operator’s licence.

So, when do you need a vehicle operator licence? You will need one to carry goods in a lorry, a van, or any other vehicle, if it has (either):

  • An unladen weight over 1,525 kg (for situations where there is no plated weight on the vehicle).
  • A gross plated weight more than 3,500 kilograms (i.e. the maximum weight it can have at any one time).

There is more than one type of operator’s licence. In fact there are three types. The one you need will depend on what kind of work you do with your vehicles.

Let’s start with the basics:

Operators of transport and driving businesses have certain responsibilities. So, when employing or using drivers, you are responsible for making sure they hold the correct licence and have the appropriate training.

You also hold responsibility for taxing your vehicles and keeping them safe. Commercial vehicles, such as lorries, buses, and coaches, must be kept in good condition at all times.

Note: Certain types of goods vehicles do not need an operator’s licence. See another section for details on the different categories and exemptions from operator licensing.

Motor Vehicle and Trailer Combinations

Transport and driving business requirements differ for certain types of vehicle combinations. So, you would need to get a goods vehicle operator’s licence if the combination of your motor vehicle and trailer, is one where:

  • The total unladen weight of the vehicle and trailer combination is over 1,525 kilograms (kg).
  • The motor vehicle and trailer (or trailers) have been plated and the total of their gross plated weights is over 3,500 kilograms.

Important: There is no requirement for an operator’s licence if the trailer unladen weight is under 1,020 kg and you only use it to carry your own goods.

Carrying Other People’s Goods

You would need a standard national licence to carry goods for other people for hire or reward (e.g. working as a courier or as a freight transport business) if the vehicle and trailer combination exceeds the weight limits for a single vehicle.

Note: The rules for goods vehicle operator licensing, types of operator licence, and the costs, differ in Northern Ireland and in the Isle of Man.

Becoming a Goods Vehicle Operator

Information in the section overviews the licensing system for being a goods vehicle operator and how to comply with the regulations in the United Kingdom.

Note: The section explains how to apply for, and manage, vehicle operator licences. There is also a way to check vehicle operator licence applications and decisions for HGVs and PSVs.

Becoming an MOT Tester

The section explains how to become an MOT tester and which qualification courses you need to pass. You would also need to complete your annual training and assessment to stay qualified.

Note: The DVSA model for MOT tester training and annual assessments replaces the old 5-year refresher course. Instead, it follows the continuing professional development (CPD) model.

Becoming a Speed Limiter Centre

Information in the article explains how to become an approved speed limiter centre with the DVSA. It also clarifies the key differences between independent and sponsored speed limiter centres.

Note: You can search online to find your local approved speed limiter centre if you need yours testing or repairing.

Cabotage Regulations

The information in the section explains cabotage regulations and restrictions for United Kingdom. Use it to review when and where UK road hauliers can carry out cabotage.

Note: Find out how to pay HGV road user levy (e.g. debit or credit card) and how to register an account so you can pre-pay your HGV levy.

Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS)

Find out how the Operator Compliance Risk Score guidance in the section can help vehicle operators avoid some of the typical factors that prompt roadside inspections.

Operating Registered Bus Services

Check the rules and regulations for running a local bus service, in London and other areas of the UK. The section explains how to register and the penalties for failing to run a reliable and punctual operation.

Note: Registered companies can get information about DVLA Fleet Scheme vehicles such as when MOTs are due for renewal and when they need taxing.

Providing Driving Tests for Employees

Some companies can apply to the DVSA to appoint delegated driving examiners to provide driving tests for employees (e.g. haulage companies, the police service).

PSV (Public Service Vehicle) Operator Licence

The guide explains who needs to get a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) operator licence and the cost. Review the different types of PSV operator licences and how the licensing system works in Great Britain.

Set Up a Driver CPC Training Centre

Several help guides on the GOV.UK website explain how to set up a training centre and get approval to provide Driver CPC periodic training courses. Other sections focus on:

Set Up a Motorcycle ATB

Check how to set up and manage a motorcycle ATB and offer training to learner riders (e.g. compulsory basic training (CBT) and the direct access scheme (DAS)).

Set Up an MOT Test Station

Check what you need to set up a new MOT testing station and VOSA ‘requirements of authorisation’. The guide also lists approved testing equipment and how to prepare for a DVSA site view.

Set Up a Tachograph Centre (ATC)

A section explaining the process of setting up a DVSA Approved Tachograph Centre. Check the current cost of registration, what equipment you need, and the rules on employing ‘nominated technicians’.

Specialist HGV Testing

Check out the specialist tests required for lorries before they can carry out certain operations. The guide explains how to get ADR and TIR testing for heavy goods vehicles.

Specialist Tests for Passenger Vehicles

The specialist tests for coaches and buses are an additional requirement to the annual test. Check how to get a vehicle tested for a Low Emissions Certificate and when it needs seat belt installation testing.

Supplying Large Goods Trailers

As a rule, you will need permission from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to supply a large goods trailer for use on the road in the United Kingdom.

Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles

The taxi and PHV license rules for driver knowledge and vehicle integrity are strict in United Kingdom. In fact, the regulation of taxicabs and private hire vehicles is especially meticulous in London.

Teaching People to Drive

The section explains the regulations required for teaching driving, setting up a driver instruction business, and how the different qualification processes work.

Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry

The main purpose of traffic commissioner public inquiries is gathering evidence. They use it to assist their decision on taking punitive action against commercial drivers.

Transporting Abnormal Loads

The rules for transporting abnormal loads are strict. The section explains how to register with ESDAL to notify the authorities about the movement of oversize or overweight cargo.

Regulations for Transport and Driving Businesses in United Kingdom