Goods vehicle licensing
Produced in partnership with Vikki Woodfine of DWF LLP
Goods vehicle licensing

The following Corporate Crime guidance note Produced in partnership with Vikki Woodfine of DWF LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • 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

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.

Across Great Britain, there are now eight 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,