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HGV Operators Licences – Applications, Refusals & Revocation

Operator Licensing is a complicated yet vital part of operating HGVs.  Give yourself the best chance of getting the O Licence you need by getting advice from a Pragma solicitor first. We have helped countless HGV operators to get their licence, many of whom had initially had their application refused.

Prices start at £175 + VAT for our application checking service.

Do I need an Operators Licence?

First thing’s first; you need to know what HGV O Licence (if any) you need to run your business legally. You need to consider factors such as the size of the vehicles you’re intending to operate, where they’ll be based, what their main purpose will be, how many HGVs you want authorisation for, and whose goods you’ll be carrying.

Do not be tempted to ‘borrow’ or ‘lend’ an HGV O Licence. They are strictly non-transferrable and if you are caught doing this, it can scupper your chances of getting your own HGV Operators Licence. If you are in any doubt about whether what you are doing is acceptable, please get in touch today for confidential advice.

Which HGV O Licence do I need?

If you’re intending to transport goods in the course of a business and are intending on operating vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, you’ll usually need an operators licence.  However if your business changes the types/sizes of vehicle it operates and /or the work it undertakes, it can sometimes be difficult to know what Operator’s Licence you’ll need or if you need one at all.

Generally it will depend on who owns the goods you’re transporting and where you’re transporting them to. However if you’re planning on running a small vehicle ( 3.5 tonnes or less ) or a vehicle without a plated weight plus a trailer, it is particularly complicated.

There are also a number of exemptions which may mean that even if you appear to need an operator’s licence, you may actually be exempt.

The exemptions are too numerous to list here, but it’s worth checking that none of them apply to you if the result shows you need an O Licence.

There are three types of HGV Operator Licences and below is an overview of each type of licence:

Restricted HGV Operator’s Licence

This type of operator licence does not require you to have a transport manager. You can operate any number of vehicles with this type of licence. You can also transport goods outside the UK. However, you must only ever transport goods which are owned by the business or individual operating the business. If you ever want to transport goods owned by someone else for your business, you must hold a Standard Licence.

Standard National HGV Operator’s Licence

If you fulfill the criteria for a Restricted Operator’s licence, you’ll need a Standard National or International Licence. You will be required to have a nominated transport manager who holds the appropriate CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) qualification. A Standard Licence only allows you to operate vehicles within the UK.

Standard International HGV Operator’s Licence

This licence is the same as the Standard National Licence, save for the fact it allows the holder to operate vehicles carrying goods they don’t own outside of the UK.


We appreciate that at times HGV O Licensing can be confusing; it can be difficult to know which forms to fill out, how to answer certain questions, and what documents to send. It’s also important that if you’re applying for an O licence, you know what you’re signing up to and what the Traffic Commissioner will expect from you if he or she grants you an O licence.

We can also help you if your application has been refused or is taking an excessive amount of time to be processed.

Bear in mind that there are also a number of exemptions which, if they apply to you, will mean you don’t need an Operator’s Licence. See our page on HGV O Licence Exemptions for the current list.

For free advice, speak to a solicitor on our local rate number 0330 1330 081 or, if you prefer, fill out our Contact Form and we'll call you back: usually the same day and often within the hour. You can also email us here.