'O' Licence Application - Your Frequently Asked Questions:


Do I need an Operator Licence?


You need a goods vehicle operator’s licence if your business uses goods vehicles above a certain weight.


You need a licence to carry goods in a lorry, van or other vehicle with either:


  • a gross plated weight (the maximum weight that the vehicle can have at any one time) of over 3,500 kilograms (kg)

  • an unladen weight of more than 1,525 kg (where there is no plated weight)


There are 3 different types of licence - what you need depends on the work you do.


You must also make sure that any drivers you use or employ have the correct licence and training. All vehicles that you use should be correctly taxed and kept safe and in good condition at all times.


Some goods vehicles don’t need an operator’s licence more is explained below under the exemptions questions.


Motor vehicles and trailers


You’ll need a goods vehicle operator’s licence for a motor vehicle and trailer combination if:

  • the motor vehicle and the trailer(s) are plated and the total of their gross plated weights is more than 3,500 kg

  • the total unladen weight of the vehicle and trailer combination is more than 1,525 kg

You don’t need an operator’s licence if your trailer’s unladen weight is less than 1,020 kg and you only carry your own goods.

Carrying goods for hire or reward


You’ll need a standard licence if you’re carrying other people’s goods for hire or reward (eg working as a courier or freight transport business) and the vehicle and trailer combination exceeds the weight limits above for a single vehicle.


What type of licence do I need?


There are 3 different types of operator’s licence for goods vehicles. The licence you need depends on where you transport goods to and from, and who you do it for.


Standard national licence


This licence means you can carry:

  • your own goods in the UK and internationally

  • other people’s goods in the UK


You can also take loaded trailers to or from ports within the UK as part of an international journey, as long as your vehicles don’t leave the country.


Standard international licence


This licence means you can carry your own goods, and other people’s goods, both in the UK and on international journeys.

When you get a standard international licence, you can also request the issue of Community Licences.


These allow:

  • trips between all EU member countries

  • transit traffic through EU member countries

  • cabotage (journeys entirely within another EU member country)


Restricted licence


This licence allows you to carry your own goods, but not other people’s goods.


Your licence will continue to be valid as long as you pay your continuation fee every 5 years and operate within the terms of your licence. You’ll be contacted every 5 years to make sure that your licence shows the correct information.


For transport outside of the EU please call us on 01406 424500 or call the International Road Freight Office on 01223 531030


What do I need to do to obtain a licence?


The goods vehicle operator licensing scheme is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on behalf of the traffic commissioners. They deal with all operator licence applications. The process can be both time consuming and complicated and its important the application is correct as no refunds will be given for licencing fees if you are not approved therefore its of paramount importance the whole application process is carried out by a capable person who fully understands the process and what they are agreeing to.


You need to apply for your goods vehicle operator’s licence at least 9 weeks before you want to start operating, to allow time for your application to be processed.


You will also need to:

  • advertise your application for a licence

  • advertise your proposed operating centre(s)

  • provide information about your financial situation

  • draw up a maintenance contract with a garage or agent to do safety inspections and repair vehicles if you don’t do this yourself

  • complete an application for a goods vehicle operator’s licence

  • pay the fees associated with holding a licence.

  • draw up a maintenance contract with a garage or agent

  • apply to be a transport manager or add a transport manager to a licence


The process can be stressful, complicated and time consuming and lots of people don't know where to start, that's we offer fixed-fee packages to manage the whole process for obtaining an operator licence. We have packages available for Restricted Operators, Standard Operators and International Operators. You can start the process of applying for an operator licence today by clicking here.


What is an interim licence?


If you need a licence urgently, you can apply for an interim licence until you get your full licence. The traffic commissioner will only consider issuing an interim licence on receipt of a complete application for an operator’s licence


What do Traffic Commissioners do?


Traffic commissioners are responsible in their area for:

  • licensing operators of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs)

  • granting vocational licences

  • taking action against drivers of HGVs


When necessary, they also hold public inquiries to consider:

  • the environmental suitability of HGV operating centres

  • applications for new licences

  • disciplinary action against operators who have broken the conditions of their licences


What are the traffic areas in Great Britain?


There are 8 traffic areas in Great Britain with a traffic commissioner responsible for each area. They are as follows:


  • London and The South East of England

  • North East of England

  • Scotland

  • North West of England

  • West Midlands and Wales

  • East of England

  • West of England

  • Central Licencing Office


Do I need an operator licence if I have operating centres in different traffic areas?


Yes. You’ll need to hold a goods vehicle operator’s licence for each traffic area where you have an operating centre.


What costs are involved when applying for a licence?


When applying for a goods vehicle operator’s licence, you’ll have to pay:

  • a one-off fee payable on application

  • a fee for the issue of a licence

  • a fee for the issue of an interim licence (if applicable)


You’ll then have to pay a continuation fee every 5 years to keep your licence active.


Application for a licence                              £257

Issue of a licence                                        £401

Continuation of a licence after 5 years       £401

Issue of an interim licence                          £68

Major change to a licence                          £257


Who is exempt from having to have an operator licence?


You don’t need a goods vehicle operator’s licence if your vehicle:

  • was first used before 1977, has an unladen weight of 1,525 kilograms or less and a maximum gross plated weight over 3,500 kilograms

  • is using public roads for less than 6 miles a week whilst moving between private premises belonging to the same person as the vehicle (if the vehicle’s used for excavation or demolition it doesn’t matter who it belongs to)

  • is being used on trade plates

  • is a passenger carrying vehicle


Several types of vehicle don’t need an operator’s licence, including:

  • military vehicles

  • snow ploughs and gritters

  • emergency service vehicles (including those used by gas, electricity, water and telephone companies)

  • electric or steam powered vehicles

  • hearses

  • recovery vehicles (only if they’re used exclusively for that purpose)

  • tractors and agricultural vehicles used in certain circumstances


Which types of vehicles are never exempt?


These types of vehicles are never exempt:

  • mobile exhibition vehicles

  • catering vehicles

  • mobile shops

  • mobile medical screening vehicles

  • vehicles with fixed equipment carrying goods not strictly for use in connection with that equipment, or towing a trailer that’s carrying goods


What happens if i need to make some changes to my operators licence?


You can do this yourself by contacting the DVSA and completing the relevant forms however, it can be time consuming, complicated and costly if you get it wrong. You can also do it online. Take advantage of our licence management package which includes changes to your licence for a small fee each year.

Not found your answers?

Call us on 01406 424500