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Specialist HGV Testing for Commercials

There are several specialist tests required for lorries before they can carry out certain types of haulage services on UK roads and overseas.

For example, specialist HGV testing is a requirement to carry dangerous goods or to qualify for a Low Emissions Certificate.

The annual test for lorries, buses and trailers ensures commercial vehicles are tested for roadworthiness each year.

In addition, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) must be specialist tested if they will be:

  • Carrying dangerous goods or explosives in bulk as governed by Part 9 of the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR for short).
  • Taken outside of the EU (the TIR test).
  • ‘Uprated’ or ‘downrated’ (e.g. to change the weight it can carry).
  • Qualifying for a Low Emissions Certificate (LEC).

ADR Dangerous Goods Vehicle Test

The ADR specialist test for lorries is for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) that use road networks to haul dangerous or hazardous goods in bulk.

All commercial vehicles and trailers used to carry explosives must pass an ADR test. This type of specialist HGV testing is also required for any vehicle (in the United Kingdom or abroad) used:

  • To carry dangerous goods in a demountable tank, a fixed tank, or a fixed battery of pressure vessels with more than 1,000 litres capacity.
  • For carrying dangerous goods either in a container or in a portable tank or battery of pressure vessels with more than 3,000 litres capacity.

The actual test for the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road varies according to the type of goods carried.

How to Apply for ADR Test Online

  1. Complete the application for first ADR road vehicle certification (you can also change an existing ADR category).
  2. State whether the testing will take place while the vehicle is still carrying dangerous goods (or only the residue). The DVSA will arrange the specialist test based on what you write on the form.
  3. Include copies of any relevant insurance certificates for batteries, fixed tanks, and pressure vessels. They will need to inspect the originals during the actual test).

Important: Send the ADR application form at least ten (10) days before the planned date for testing. You can post it to the address written on the form or you can use the ADR test booking contact details.

ADR Test Booking
Mail: [email protected]
Fax: 01792 454367

Vehicles and trailers need to have individual certification. So, you would need to use two ADR applications for an articulated or drawbar combination (one for the vehicle and one for the trailer). There is a fee for each part.

ADR Test and Certification Fee

The current fees for ADR testing and certification listed below would be in addition to the charges for a standard annual test.

  • The fee for an initial inspection is £116
  • Re-inspection carried out within fourteen (14) days is £63
  • The cost of a duplicate certificate is £14
  • The new type approved articulated tractor certificate is £28

Note: Some of the test fees for motor vehicles, goods vehicles, and public service vehicles differ in Northern Ireland.

Taking a Vehicle to be ADR Tested

As a general rule, vehicles should not be loaded or uncleaned when taking your vehicle to the ADR test. But, some exceptions will apply – such as if the testing station makes special arrangements with you.

According to the GOV.UK website: “The exception applies to vehicles loaded with UN1202 diesel, gas, or heating oil where there is also no residue of other flammable materials in tank vapour spaces.”

So, what will happen if you take a dangerous goods vehicle to the test uncleaned or not purged (or laden with dangerous goods)?

In this case, the DVSA will need evidence that a person with an appropriate ADR driver’s licence is accompanying the vehicle.

You must use form VTG15 (the dangerous goods vehicle certification form) to show the testing station that your vehicle is carrying (or has been carrying) dangerous goods.

Arranging a Re-inspection after a Failed Test

What if the vehicle fails the ADR test for carrying dangerous goods? In this case, you should phone the ‘same’ testing station to make arrangements for another inspection.

Tractor Units with ‘ADR-type Approval’

Some of the new tractor units will have been built to ‘ADR-type approval’. If you buy one of these you can get ADR-type certification for it.

You will need the manufacturer’s Declaration of Conformity and application form ADR IIIA. Once you have these documents you can send them to the DVSA.

How to Get a Duplicate ADR Certificate

Duplicate ADR certificates are available providing yours is still current. But, they will not issue a duplicate if yours has already expired. Send a letter to the ADR Section at the DVSA and give them:

  • The ID of the vehicle or trailer and the name and address of the operator
  • Your reason for requesting a replacement (e.g. yours is lost or there is change of owner/operator)
  • Your payment details

DVSA – ADR Section
Telephone: 01792 454 986/250
Mail: [email protected]
ADR Section
Padley Road

Note: Contact the DVSA ADR Section for further advice on getting a new certificate if there is a change of ADR category.

TIR Test (International Road Transports)

TIR stands for ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (translated to International Road Transports). Under the TIR system, UK customs officials can pack and seal goods before they are transported outside the European Union.

Customs officials working at border crossings will not need to open and inspect the load. Therefore, as a rule the TIR test results in quicker border crossings.

But, the vehicle would need to meet the TIR requirements by passing a test to ensure:

  • No one can put anything into, or take anything from, the vehicle (without it being obvious).
  • Construction of the goods compartment means it would have to be accessed from inside and outside (both) for it to be removed and replaced.

Vehicles would need to conform to the TIR convention standards. However, most lorries built in the United Kingdom fail to meet the TIR standard (without a need for major and complex changes).

Booking a TIR Test for Quicker Border Crossings

There are two different TIR approval procedures used to get vehicles approved. Depending on the complexity of individual transportation businesses the options are:

  • Getting individual vehicles approved ‘separately’ by having an inspection for each one.
  • Getting the actual design approved (if used for a series of vehicles).

Getting Approval for Individual Vehicles

You would need to use form GV62 to book an individual vehicle inspection for TIR border crossings. Complete the application form and pay the fee for each vehicle you want approving.

The TIR test certificate stays valid for two (2) years from the date of issuance. You would need to book another TIR inspection every two years to keep a vehicle approved. The inspection form and payment is a requirement each time.

  • The fee for an initial inspection of an individual vehicle is £106
  • The cost of the two-yearly inspection for an individual vehicle is £106
  • The fee for re-inspection of an individual vehicle after a failed test is £70

Getting a Design Approved for a Series of Vehicles

Use form GV65 to get a vehicle load compartment design approved for TIR border crossings. There will be a fee to pay.

Assuming they approve the design you would need to use form GV69 to get a ‘certificate of conformity’ for each vehicle using an approved design for TIR border crossings. After paying the fee the DVSA will inspect a sample of the design on one of the vehicles.

The certificate of conformity would remain valid for two (2) years from the date they issue it. You would need to get another inspection (every 2 years) for each vehicle made to the design to keep them approved. There is a payment required for the inspection fee each time.

  • Approval of a design for a series of vehicles is £644
  • A ‘certificate of conformity’ for each vehicle made to the design is £14
  • The two-yearly inspection for each vehicle made to the design is £106
  • The fee for re-inspection of a vehicle after a failed test is £70
  • Making a change to an approved design costs £106
  • Getting a replacement certificate of conformity costs £14

Note: The vehicle test fees for specialist tests for lorries in Northern Ireland may be different to those in Great Britain.

When it is time to get the vehicle tested you should contact the DVSA. They will provide further details on where you can get it done.

DVSA Helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday: 7:30am to 6pm
Find out about call charges.

Note: Failing to give at least three (3) days of notice to cancel an inspection means you would not get the fee refunded.

Changing the Weight a Vehicle Can Carry

In some cases, there may be a need to increase the maximum permitted weight that your lorry can carry. To change the weight you can carry, the process will either be:

  • ‘Up-plating’ when there will be no physical changes made to the design.
  • ‘Uprating’ if there is a modification to the design.

In both cases, you would get a new plate that shows the change made to the permitted weight. Often, up-plating or uprating puts a vehicle in a higher vehicle tax band. Thus, you may need to pay a higher rate of vehicle tax.

Downplating and Downrating

It is not uncommon to ‘downplate’ or ‘downrate’ a lorry. The process reduces the maximum weight it can work at. It would also lower the rate of vehicle tax required for that particular lorry.

The DVSA will inspect any vehicle that has been uprated or downrated before they issue the new plates at the new weights.

As a rule, they will not inspect up-plated and downplated lorries. But, some downplated vehicles may need to pass an official weight test before the DVSA will issue a new plate.

Note: It may be useful to read the section about HGVs that has vehicle weights explained in greater detail.

Application to Replate a Lorry

You should use form VTG10 to change the plated details of a heavy goods vehicle (or to notify about alterations).

Send the completed form with the correct payment (£27) to the address written on the document (or nearest DVSA goods vehicle testing station).

Important: You must use the V70 form (application to change a vehicle’s tax class) to re-licence the lorry after it has been replated. Remember to send the new plating certificate VTG7 along with the application.

Reduced Emissions Test for a Lorry

As a rule, getting a vehicle tested for a Low Emissions Certificate (LEC) would allow you to drive it in the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) without having to pay.

Note: The Reduced Pollution Certificate (RPC) scheme to reduce vehicle tax ended on the 31st of December 2016.

Low Emissions Certificate Eligibility

To be tested for a Low Emissions Certificate the vehicle would need to be:

  • Registered in the United Kingdom before the 1st of October 2006.
  • Fitted with a full filter to TfL emissions standards for the Low Emission Zone.

Note: A vehicle with a Euro 4, 5, or 6 engine does not require a Low Emission Certificate.

Converted and Re-engined Vehicles

You should contact the DVLA if your vehicle has been fitted or converted to run solely on petrol or it has had an approved gas conversion.

Contact Transport for London (TfL) instead if the vehicle has been ‘re-engined’ to meet Low Emission Zone standards.

TfL Low Emission Zone
Email: [email protected] or make an enquiry online
Telephone: 0343 222 1111
International: +44 (0)343 222 1111

Monday to Friday: 8am to 10pm
Saturday: 9am to 3pm
Check call charges to the UK.

Booking Low Emissions Certificate Testing

Only an authorised testing facility or a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) test station can conduct the test. You would need to provide:

  • Vehicle registration number
  • Vehicle identification or chassis number
  • Make, model, and date of manufacture
  • The details of any modifications made to meet the emissions standard
  • Payment for the Low Emissions Certificate (e.g. HGV test fees)

Note: Having the test done at the same time as the annual test (MOT) for lorries, buses and trailers will work out cheaper.

Low Emissions Certificate Test Procedures

You will need to take the previous Low Emissions Certificate (or Reduced Pollution Certificate) if the vehicle has been tested before.

Failing to take the previous certificate means they may cancel the test and you would need to pay the charge again.

The two parts of the Low Emissions Certificate test are:

  • A physical inspection to check any modifications (e.g. a filter fitted to the exhaust).
  • A smoke opacity test to check the vehicle’s emissions.

Getting a Test Result

Providing the vehicle passes the LEC inspection you will receive a Low Emissions Certificate. The DVSA would forward the details of the vehicle to Transport for London (TfL) by automatic process.

It takes around three (3) days for TfL to update your details. Following this, you will be able to drive your vehicle for free in the Low Emission Zone.

Note: You would need to register with TfL if you are driving a vehicle registered outside of Great Britain. Failing to register yourself as the driver can result in a fine up to £1,000.

What if Your Vehicle Fails the LEC Test?

You should use form LEC3 to appeal the result of a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or a public service vehicle (PSV) test for a Low Emissions Certificate (LEC). Send the completed form to the DVSA address (stated on the LEC3).

Renewing a Low Emissions Certificate

There will be an expiry date on the Low Emissions Certificate. So, to continue driving in the Low Emission Zone without paying, you would need to get your vehicle tested again before it runs out.

Note: Driving in the Low Emission Zone without a valid Low Emissions Certificate can result in a £1,000 fine.

Specialist Tests for Lorries Help Guide for United Kingdom