Date updated: Monday 22nd January 2024

Operator licencing for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is a regulatory process designed to ensure the safe and lawful operation of commercial transport services. The specific details and requirements can vary between countries, but the following provides a general overview of how operator licensing typically works for heavy goods vehicles based in the UK.

Standard National Licence: Allows operators to carry goods within a specific country.

Standard International Licence: Permits operators to transport goods across international borders.

Operator Licence Application: Companies or individuals wishing to operate heavy goods vehicles usually need to apply for an operator's licence through the Vehicle Operator Licensing Service. This is usually done on-line here.

An operator must have a registered operating centre or premises where they base their vehicles, maintain records, and manage their transport operations. The operating centre should comply with certain standards, including facilities for vehicle maintenance.

Operators are often required to demonstrate "financial standing," which means having sufficient financial resources to operate a fleet of vehicles. This can be proven through bank statements, audited accounts, or other financial evidence. Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Document #2 Finance can be found here.

The appointment of a qualified and competent transport manager is usually a requirement. The transport manager is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations, ensuring compliance with regulations, and managing the fleet.  Senior Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Document #3 Transport Managers can be found here.

Operators must have arrangements in place for the routine maintenance and inspection of their vehicles. This includes keeping records of maintenance activities and ensuring that vehicles are in roadworthy condition. The DVSA Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness can be found here.

Operators are responsible for ensuring that their drivers comply with regulations, including driver hours, safe driving, first use checks, and other relevant rules.

Vehicles equipped with tachographs (devices that record driving time, speed, and distance) must be used in compliance with regulations. Operators are responsible for monitoring and managing drivers hours compliance and the tachograph data that records it.

Strict record-keeping requirements are in place for operators. This includes maintaining records of vehicle maintenance, driver schedules, and other operational aspects. These records should be readily available for inspection.

Operators should pro-actively review and risk-assess their operations. Outside bodies such as the DVSA may do the same.

You must pay an operator licence renewal fee every five years. The renewal process may involve demonstrating continued compliance with regulations.

Operators who fail to comply with licencing conditions or regulations may face action against their operator’s licence including, in serious cases suspension or revocation. This may be accompanied by disqualification of directors.

It is important for operators of heavy goods vehicles to stay informed about the specific requirements and regulations in their jurisdiction, as these can vary. In some regions, there may be additional considerations, such as environmental standards and emission controls, that operators must comply with. Regular updates on regulatory changes and ongoing training for staff involved in transport operations are essential for maintaining compliance with operator licensing requirements.