Goods vehicle licensing

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Goods vehicle licensing

Jun 5, 2021, 07:10 AM
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Goods vehicle licensing
Goods vehicle licensing#What is an operator's licence?#When is an operator's licence required?#What types of operator's licence are there?#Applying for an operator's licence#Standard undertakings under an operator licence#Enforcement of Operator Licences
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Title : Goods vehicle licensing
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Goods vehicle licensing

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects impacted by the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In particular, see this Statutory Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Heavy Goods (HGV) and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operators issued by the Traffic Commissioners which provides guidance to operators. This guidance is updated regularly in response to developments in the government’s response to the pandemic. For updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the criminal justice system—overview and Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

What is an operator's licence?

An operator's licence is a legal authority to operate a certain category of vehicle within the UK. Operator licensing applies to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and to passenger service vehicles (PSVs) ie buses, coaches and limousines. This guidance focuses on the regulation of HGVs, albeit there are many cross-overs with PSVs in terms of the licensing regime and general enforcement.

In England, Wales and Scotland, operator licences are issued by Traffic Commissioners. Traffic Commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulation of those who operate HGVs and PSVs as well as the registration of local bus services. They are assisted by deputy Traffic Commissioners. Traffic Commissioners are statutorily independent licensing authorities and they can also take action against the vocational entitlement of bus, coach and lorry drivers who commit road and certain other offences.

Information on the role and priorities of Traffic Commissioners can be found on the Traffic Commissioners webpage.

Northern Ireland has a slightly different system in operator licences that are issued by the Transport Regulation Unit. However, all applications for operator licences and administration of those licences across the UK are dealt with centrally in Leeds by the Central Licensing Office.

Great Britain is divided into the following traffic areas:

  1. Scotland

  2. Wales

  3. North-West

  4. North-East

  5. West

  6. East

  7. London & South East, and

  8. West Midlands

In October 2016, Wales became its own distinct traffic area, having previously been linked to the West Midlands. These changes were brought in by the Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC)as governed by the Local Transport Act 2008 (LTA 2008).

HGV operator licences are governed under the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 (GV(LO)A 1995), with supporting provisions also found within the Road Transport Operator Regulations 2011, SI 2011/2632, and the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, SI 1995/2869 as amended.

The main purpose of the goods vehicle operator licensing regime is to ensure the safe and proper use of goods vehicles and to protect the environment around operating centres where the vehicles are housed.

The Government has issued a guide to operator licensing which can be found here Goods Vehicle Operator Licensing: A guide for Operators although some caution must be paid to this document as it has not been updated since 2011.

When is an operator's licence required?

A goods vehicle operator’s licence is required if:

  1. using a goods vehicle to transport goods for hire or reward or in connection with a trade or business, and

  2. the goods vehicle is over 3.5 tonnes gross plated weight, or

  3. where there is no plated weight, the goods vehicle has an unladen weight of more than 1,525kg

In this instance, ‘goods’ means goods or burden of any description.

A licence may not necessarily be required if there is an applicable exemption (see below).

The obligation to hold an operator's licence is contained in GV(LO)A 1995 which creates a prohibition on the use of a goods vehicle on a road for the carriage of goods for hire, reward to in connections with a trade or business without an operator’s licence.

The prohibition does not apply:

  1. to the use of motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles the permissible laden mass of which does not exceed 3.5 tonnes

  2. to the use of a goods vehicle for international carriage by a haulier established in Northern Ireland and not established in Great Britain, or

  3. to the use of any other class of vehicle specified by regulation (a class of vehicle that may be specified by regulation includes goods vehicles used for international carriage by a haulier established in an EU Member State)

  4. to international operators who have been granted with a temporary exemption under GV(LO)A 1995, s 3A

  5. to any operator granted a temporary exemption by a Traffic Commissioner under GV(LO)A 1995, s 4

Any failure by a person or company to appropriately hold an operator's licence where one is legally required will result in a criminal conviction, which is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

Section 1 of the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018 (HPTRA 2018) enables the Secretary of State by regulations to prohibit an operator from using a goods vehicle on a journey to, in or through a country outside the UK in relation to which there is a relevant international agreement. Although the international road permit regime is separate from the licensing of operators in Great Britain, practitioners should note that the offence of breaching international road permit regulations under HPTRA 2018, s 8 which can be committed whether an operator uses the goods vehicle in the UK or elsewhere.

The operator's licence must be held by the person (individual or a company) who ‘uses’ the vehicle and this may or may not be the owner of the vehicle. The user of the vehicle can be:

  1. the driver, if they own it or if they are leasing, buying on hire purchase terms, hiring or borrowing the vehicle (eg a typical owner-driver operation), or

  2. the person whose servant or agent the driver is, that being whoever employs or controls the driver

Prior to making any application for an operator's licence, the operator of the vehicle(s) must consider whether they fall into any of the available exemptions which allow them to operate a vehicle without an operator's licence. The list of exemptions is contained in Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, SI 1995/2869, r 33 and Sch 3, Pt I and includes, by way of example:

  1. certain tractors

  2. funeral cars

  3. vehicles used for police, fire and rescue, ambulance or National Crime Agency purposes

  4. a trailer which is being used incidentally for the carriage of goods in connection with the construction, maintenance or repair of roads

  5. an electrically propelled vehicle

  6. a recovery vehicle (for analysis of what is a recovery vehicle for these purposes, see: Driver And Vehicle Standards Agency v Classic Restoration and Services Ltd)

  7. a vehicle which is being used for snow clearing, or for the distribution of grit or salt

What types of operator's licence are there?

An operator's licence may either be a standard licence or a restricted licence.

A standard licence is an operator's licence under which a goods vehicle may be used on a road for the carriage of goods for hire, reward or in connection with a business. A restricted licence permits the use of a goods vehicle on a road for the carriage of goods for or in connection with any trade or business carried on by the holder of the licence, other than that of carrying goods for hire or reward.

General haulage companies or delivery businesses tend to hold standard licences as the very nature of their business means that they are hauling goods for other people in return for payment. However, companies such as retailers carrying their own goods to their stores for onward sale, or manufacturers transferring their own goods between sites would fall into a restricted licensing regime. However, these types of businesses would fall into a standard licensing regime if they sold their goods to customers and then contracted to deliver the items to the customer thereafter.

There are three types of goods vehicle operator’s licence as follows:

  1. a standard international licence for national and international haulage operations carrying goods for hire or reward

  2. a standard national licence for national haulage operations only, carrying goods for hire or reward, and

  3. a restricted licence for the carriage of goods on the licence holder’s own account in connection with their business

The term 'own account' includes where the goods carried are:

  1. the property of the operator, or

  2. have been sold, bought, let out on hire or hired, produced, extracted, processed or repaired by it

  3. the purpose of the journey is to carry the goods to or from the undertaking or to move them for its own requirements,

  4. the vehicles are driven by personnel employed by, or put at the disposal of, the operator under a contractual obligation

  5. the vehicles carrying the goods are owned by the operator, have been bought by it on deferred terms or have been hired in line with European legislation, and

  6. the carriage is no more than ancillary to the overall activities of the operator

The requirements under each licence type are very similar, and the obligations on the licence holder are identical save for the requirement that standard licence holders must be able to demonstrate professional competence, or employ someone who is professionally competent, ie a transport manager that holds a National Certificate of Professional Competence. Standard licence holders must also demonstrate a higher level of financial standing as compared to restricted licence holders. Both differences are discussed further below.

While transport managers are not required for restricted licences, the operator must still meet the good repute requirement and be fit to hold a licence and ensure the transport operations are properly managed. Therefore, many restricted licence holders do choose to engage a transport manager or train somebody up appropriately in transport operations.

For further information, see: Senior Traffic Commissioner guidance on Transport Managers.

Applying for an operator's licence

Goods vehicle operator licences are applied for using a Form GV79. This form includes questions relating to vehicle operating centre,

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information on Goods vehicle licensing

Goods vehicle licensing

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects impacted by the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In particular, see this Statutory Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Heavy Goods (HGV) and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operators issued by the Traffic Commissioners which provides guidance to operators. This guidance is updated regularly in response to developments in the government’s response to the pandemic. For updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the criminal justice system—overview and Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

What is an operator's licence?

An operator's licence is a legal authority to operate a certain category of vehicle within the UK. Operator licensing applies to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and to passenger service vehicles (PSVs) ie buses, coaches and limousines. This guidance focuses on the regulation of HGVs, albeit there are many cross-overs with PSVs in terms of the licensing regime and general enforcement.

In England, Wales and Scotland, operator licences are issued by Traffic Commissioners. Traffic Commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulation of those who operate HGVs and PSVs as well as the registration of local bus services. They are assisted by deputy Traffic Commissioners. Traffic Commissioners are statutorily independent licensing authorities and they can also take action against the vocational entitlement of bus, coach and lorry drivers who commit

Goods vehicle licensing

Coronavirus (COVID-19): This Practice Note contains guidance on subjects impacted by the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In particular, see this Statutory Guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice for Heavy Goods (HGV) and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operators issued by the Traffic Commissioners which provides guidance to operators. This guidance is updated regularly in response to developments in the government’s response to the pandemic. For updates on key developments and related practical guidance on the implications for lawyers, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the criminal justice system—overview and Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19) toolkit.

What is an operator's licence?

An operator's licence is a legal authority to operate a certain category of vehicle within the UK. Operator licensing applies to heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and to passenger service vehicles (PSVs) ie buses, coaches and limousines. This guidance focuses on the regulation of HGVs, albeit there are many cross-overs with PSVs in terms of the licensing regime and general enforcement.

In England, Wales and Scotland, operator licences are issued by Traffic Commissioners. Traffic Commissioners are responsible for the licensing and regulation of those who operate HGVs and PSVs as well as the registration of local bus services. They are assisted by deputy Traffic Commissioners. Traffic Commissioners are statutorily independent licensing authorities and they can also take action against the vocational entitlement of bus, coach and lorry drivers who commit

road and certain other offences.

Information on the role and priorities of Traffic Commissioners can be found on the Traffic Commissioners webpage.

Northern Ireland has a slightly different system in operator licences that are issued by the Transport Regulation Unit. However, all applications for operator licences and administration of those licences across the UK are dealt with centrally in Leeds by the Central Licensing Office.

Great Britain is divided into the following traffic areas:

  1. Scotland

  2. Wales

  3. North-West

  4. North-East

  5. West

  6. East

  7. London & South East, and

  8. West Midlands

In October 2016, Wales became its own distinct traffic area, having previously been linked to the West Midlands. These changes were brought in by the Senior Traffic Commissioner (STC)as governed by the Local Transport Act 2008 (LTA 2008).

HGV operator licences are governed under the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 (GV(LO)A 1995), with supporting provisions also found within the Road Transport Operator Regulations 2011, SI 2011/2632, and the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, SI 1995/2869 as amended.

The main purpose of the goods vehicle operator licensing regime is to ensure the safe and proper use of goods vehicles and to protect the environment around operating centres where the vehicles are housed.

The Government has issued a guide to operator licensing which can be found here Goods Vehicle Operator Licensing: A guide for Operators although some caution must be paid to this document as it has not been updated since 2011.

When is an operator's licence required?

A goods vehicle operator’s licence is required if:

  1. using a goods vehicle to transport goods for hire or reward or in connection with a trade or business, and

  2. the goods vehicle is over 3.5 tonnes gross plated weight, or

  3. where there is no plated weight, the goods vehicle has an unladen weight of more than 1,525kg

In this instance, ‘goods’ means goods or burden of any description.

A licence may not necessarily be required if there is an applicable exemption (see below).

The obligation to hold an operator's licence is contained in GV(LO)A 1995 which creates a prohibition on the use of a goods vehicle on a road for the carriage of goods for hire, reward to in connections with a trade or business without an operator’s licence.

The prohibition does not apply:

  1. to the use of motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles the permissible laden mass of which does not exceed 3.5 tonnes

  2. to the use of a goods vehicle for international carriage by a haulier established in Northern Ireland and not established in Great Britain, or

  3. to the use of any other class of vehicle specified by regulation (a class of vehicle that may be specified by regulation includes goods vehicles used for international carriage by a haulier established in an EU Member State)

  4. to international operators who have been granted with a temporary exemption under GV(LO)A 1995, s 3A

  5. to any operator granted a temporary exemption by a Traffic Commissioner under GV(LO)A 1995, s 4

Any failure by a person or company to appropriately hold an operator's licence where one is legally required will result in a criminal conviction, which is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

Section 1 of the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act 2018 (HPTRA 2018) enables the Secretary of State by regulations to prohibit an operator from using a goods vehicle on a journey to, in or through a country outside the UK in relation to which there is a relevant international agreement. Although the international road permit regime is separate from the licensing of operators in Great Britain, practitioners should note that the offence of breaching international road permit regulations under HPTRA 2018, s 8 which can be committed whether an operator uses the goods vehicle in the UK or elsewhere.

The operator's licence must be held by the person (individual or a company) who ‘uses’ the vehicle and this may or may not be the owner of the vehicle. The user of the vehicle can be:

  1. the driver, if they own it or if they are leasing, buying on hire purchase terms, hiring or borrowing the vehicle (eg a typical owner-driver operation), or

  2. the person whose servant or agent the driver is, that being whoever employs or controls the driver

Prior to making any application for an operator's licence, the operator of the vehicle(s) must consider whether they fall into any of the available exemptions which allow them to operate a vehicle without an operator's licence. The list of exemptions is contained in Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, SI 1995/2869, r 33 and Sch 3, Pt I and includes, by way of example:

  1. certain tractors

  2. funeral cars

  3. vehicles used for police, fire and rescue, ambulance or National Crime Agency purposes

  4. a trailer which is being used incidentally for the carriage of goods in connection with the construction, maintenance or repair of roads

  5. an electrically propelled vehicle

  6. a recovery vehicle (for analysis of what is a recovery vehicle for these purposes, see: Driver And Vehicle Standards Agency v Classic Restoration and Services Ltd)

  7. a vehicle which is being used for snow clearing, or for the distribution of grit or salt

What types of operator's licence are there?

An operator's licence may either be a standard licence or a restricted licence.

A standard licence is an operator's licence under which a goods vehicle may be used on a road for the carriage of goods for hire, reward or in connection with a business. A restricted licence permits the use of a goods vehicle on a road for the carriage of goods for or in connection with any trade or business carried on by the holder of the licence, other than that of carrying goods for hire or reward.

General haulage companies or delivery businesses tend to hold standard licences as the very nature of their business means that they are hauling goods for other people in return for payment. However, companies such as retailers carrying their own goods to their stores for onward sale, or manufacturers transferring their own goods between sites would fall into a restricted licensing regime. However, these types of businesses would fall into a standard licensing regime if they sold their goods to customers and then contracted to deliver the items to the customer thereafter.

There are three types of goods vehicle operator’s licence as follows:

  1. a standard international licence for national and international haulage operations carrying goods for hire or reward

  2. a standard national licence for national haulage operations only, carrying goods for hire or reward, and

  3. a restricted licence for the carriage of goods on the licence holder’s own account in connection with their business

The term 'own account' includes where the goods carried are:

  1. the property of the operator, or

  2. have been sold, bought, let out on hire or hired, produced, extracted, processed or repaired by it

  3. the purpose of the journey is to carry the goods to or from the undertaking or to move them for its own requirements,

  4. the vehicles are driven by personnel employed by, or put at the disposal of, the operator under a contractual obligation

  5. the vehicles carrying the goods are owned by the operator, have been bought by it on deferred terms or have been hired in line with European legislation, and

  6. the carriage is no more than ancillary to the overall activities of the operator

The requirements under each licence type are very similar, and the obligations on the licence holder are identical save for the requirement that standard licence holders must be able to demonstrate professional competence, or employ someone who is professionally competent, ie a transport manager that holds a National Certificate of Professional Competence. Standard licence holders must also demonstrate a higher level of financial standing as compared to restricted licence holders. Both differences are discussed further below.

While transport managers are not required for restricted licences, the operator must still meet the good repute requirement and be fit to hold a licence and ensure the transport operations are properly managed. Therefore, many restricted licence holders do choose to engage a transport manager or train somebody up appropriately in transport operations.

For further information, see: Senior Traffic Commissioner guidance on Transport Managers.

Applying for an operator's licence

Goods vehicle operator licences are applied for using a Form GV79. This form includes questions relating to vehicle operating

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