Do You Need an HGV Operator’s Licence or are you exempt?
If you’re not sure whether you’re exempt from Operator Licensing, it’s important that you take advice before you begin operating. There are a number of exemptions available to those operating vehicles which would otherwise need to be O Licensed.
The list of Operator Licensing Exemptions is contained in Schedule 3 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 and is summarised below. As usual, the legislation is not written in plain English, and therefore you may be unsure as to whether the exemptions actually apply to you.
In addition, certain operator licensing exemptions (such as the one relating to recovery vehicles) need to be read in conjunction with other legislation or case law in order to fully understand what is covered, and what is not.
For this reason, although the information below is useful, if you’re intending to rely on an exemption you should really seek specialist advice. If the vehicle you’re operating appears to fall within the Operator Licensing regime, the law requires you to prove that the exemption applies. Therefore you need to ensure you’ll be prepared if you are ever confronted by DVSA (formerly VOSA) or the Police.
The starting point is that all vehicles over 3.5t Gross Plated Weight (including some vehicle and trailer combinations) that are used for hire & reward, or are used in the course of a business, require an O licence. Most people are aware of the ‘hire or reward’ element, but fewer operators are aware that vehicles also fall into the regime if they are used ‘in the course of a business’, regardless of what type of business it is.
The penalty for operating without a licence is up to £5,000 per offence so don’t get caught out. Let Pragma Law help you to get it right.
Paragraph 3 of the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 states that a recovery vehicle has the same meaning as in Part V of Schedule 1 to the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.Note: This is one of the most debated operator licensing exemptions and is frequently misinterpreted. Make sure if you’re relying on this exemption, you’re clear on the law.
Vehicles moving a short distance between private premises
A vehicle used on a road only in passing from private premises to other private premises in the immediate neighbourhood belonging (except in the case of a vehicle so used only in connection with excavation or demolition) to the same person, provided that the distance travelled on a road by any such vehicle does not exceed a total of 9.654 kilometres, (6 miles), in any one week.
Dual Purpose Vehicles
A dual-purpose vehicle and any trailer drawn by it.
A motor vehicle constructed or adapted primarily for the carriage of passengers and their effects, and any trailer drawn by it, while being so used.
Trade Licensed Vehicles
A vehicle which is being used under a trade licence. This will generally mean it should be displaying trade plates.
Incomplete Vehicles or used for Test or Trial
A vehicle on which no permanent body has been constructed, which is being used only for carrying burden which either is carried solely for the purpose of test or trial, or consists of articles and equipment which will form part of the completed vehicle when the body is constructed.
A vehicle which is being used for funerals.
Police, Fire & Ambulance vehicles
A vehicle which is being used for police, fire and rescue authority or ambulance purposes.
Mine Rescue Vehicles
A vehicle which is being used for fire-fighting or rescue operations at mines.
A vehicle in the service of a visiting force or of a headquarters; orA vehicle used by or under the control of Her Majesty’s United Kingdom forces.
A showman’s goods vehicle and any trailer drawn thereby.Note: This is another of the most relied upon operator licensing exemptions and therefore one of the most frequently misinterpreted and prosecuted. If you’re not sure if this exemption applies, get advice.
Road Construction or Repair
A trailer not constructed primarily for the carriage of goods but which is being used incidentally for that purpose in connection with the construction, maintenance or repair of roads.
A road roller and any trailer drawn by it.
A vehicle while being used under the direction of HM Coastguard or of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for the carriage of life-boats, life-saving appliances or crew.
Vehicles with Specific Fixed Equipment
A vehicle fitted with a machine, appliance, apparatus or other contrivance which is a permanent or essentially permanent fixture, provided that the only goods carried on the vehicle are-
(a) required for use in connection with the machine, appliance, apparatus or contrivance or the running of the vehicle;
(b) to be mixed by the machine, appliance, apparatus or contrivance with other goods not carried on the vehicle on a road in order to thrash, grade, clean or chemically treat grain;
(c) to be mixed by the machine, appliance, apparatus or contrivance with other goods not carried on the vehicle in order to make fodder for animals; or
(d) mud or other matter swept up from the surface of a road by the use of the machine, appliance, apparatus or other contrivance.
Certain Local Authority Vehicles
A vehicle while being used by a local authority for the purposes of the enactments relating to weights and measures or the sale of food and drugs, orA vehicle while being used by a local authority in the discharge of any function conferred on or exercisable by that authority under Regulations made under the Civil Defence Act 1948.
Steam Propelled Vehicles
A steam-propelled vehicle.
A tower wagon or trailer drawn thereby, provided that the only goods carried on the trailer are goods required for use in connection with the work on which the tower wagon is ordinarily used as such.
Vehicles used within an Aerodrome
A vehicle while being used for the carriage of goods within an aerodrome within the meaning of section 105(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982.
An electrically propelled vehicle.
Vehicles going to or from Annual Test (MOT)
A vehicle proceeding to or from a station provided by the Secretary of State under section 45 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for the purposes of an examination of that vehicle under that section provided that-
(a) the only load being carried is a load required for the purposes of the examination; and
(b) it is being carried at the request of the Secretary of State.
Vehicles first used before 1977
A goods vehicle first used before 1 January 1977 which has an unladen weight not exceeding 1525 kilograms and with a plated weight which exceeds 3500 kilograms but does not exceed 3556.21 kilograms (3½ tons).
Vehicles Performing Cabotage
- A vehicle which is being used to carry out a cabotage operation consisting of national carriage for hire or reward on a temporary basis in the United Kingdom in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No.1072/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international road haulage market, or;
- A vehicle which is being used in Great Britain to carry out a cabotage operation—
(a) which consists of national carriage for hire or reward by a haulier who is a holder of a Community licence and whose driver, if a national of a country which is not a member State, holds a driver attestation;
(b) where the vehicle is being used only for the carriage of vehicles in categories M1 and N1, as defined in Annex II to Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles 2; and
(c) the vehicle is being used at any time during a period beginning with—
(i) 22nd February and ending with 31st March; or
(ii) 25th August and ending with 30th September.
In the above paragraph “Community licence” and “driver attestation”have the same meanings as in Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international road haulage market.
Highway Authority Vehicles
A vehicle while being used by a highway authority for the purposes of section 196 the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Emergency Utility Vehicles
A vehicle being held ready for use in an emergency by an undertaking for the supply of water, electricity, gas or telephone services.
Road Clearing Vehicles
A vehicle which is being used for snow clearing, or for the distribution of grit, salt or other materials on frosted, icebound or snow-covered roads or for going to or from the place where it is to be used for the said purposes or for any other purpose directly connected with those purposes.
Vehicles used Solely for Driver Training / Testing
A vehicle in a category or sub-category listed in column 1 of Table 2 in regulation 37 of the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999, provided that—
(a) no goods are being carried on the vehicle or trailer other than any that may be carried on the vehicle for the purposes of a practical test of driving skills and behaviour, as prescribed in that regulation 37;
(b) any goods that are being carried on the vehicle or trailer are being carried only for the purposes of driver instruction and not otherwise—
(i) for hire or reward, or
(ii) for or in connection with any trade or business; and
(c) the vehicle is—
(i) being used for the instruction of a driver who has not passed a test of competence to drive that class of vehicle under section 89 of the Road Traffic Act 1988;
(ii) proceeding to or from a test of competence to drive that class of vehicle under section 89 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 or being used in such a test; or
(iii) being used in the course of—
(aa) a driving lesson for the purpose of enabling a person to obtain a CPC within the meaning of the Vehicle Drivers (Certificate of Professional Competence) Regulations 2007;
(bb) periodic training as defined in regulation 2(1) of the Vehicle Drivers (Certificate of Professional Competence) Regulations 2007; or
(cc) an initial CPC test as defined in regulation 2(1) of the Vehicle Drivers (Certificate of Professional Competence) Regulations 2007.
More information on specific operator licensing exemptions can also be found in the HGV Operators Guide.