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Clarity on operator licencing for Motor racing, horsebox owners and those using HGV's for hobbies


A lot of confusion surrounds operator licensing when it comes to those who use large vehicles over 3.5 tonnes for their hobbies. Hobbies like horse shows and motor racing, both of which require large vehicles to transport their precious cargo.

For years training companies, transport consultants and even the DVSA themselves have warned those questioning the legislation to ere on the side of caution and seek legal advice to make sure they are complying with rules.


We have recently discovered a letter, published online, from what was then VOSA to a person who questioned the use of a 26000kg vehicle and trailer for race car transportation. The information was requested under section 40, Freedom Of Information Act. Here is VOSA’s response:


Your letter has finally been passed to this office as we deal with policy queries relating to operator licensing. Please accept my apologies for the considerable delay in replying.


In the majority of cases, goods vehicles with a gross plated weight of over 3.5 tonnes or, if there is no plated weight, an unladen weight of over 1525 kg require a goods vehicle operator’s licence if they are used to carry goods or burden of any description in connection with a trade or business, or for hire or reward. However, generally, where a HGV is used on an amateur basis, we would not normally consider that the vehicle is being used for hire or reward, where it is clear that the carriage of goods (in this case a racing car and spares), is not with a view to making a profit. Therefore, although we must point out in all correspondence that existing regulations do not exempt privately used HGVs from the requirements of operator licensing, we would not consider it to be in the public interest to take any action where nothing more than petrol money or modest prize money is involved.

(NB: I note that the train weight of the vehicle is around 36 tonnes, which is quite large for a vehicle used in connection with a hobby. Where the vehicle is ever used in connection with any commercial purpose even for one day an operators licence will be required).


You have asked about the need for a tachograph. Under existing EU regulations (561/2006 EC), which came in to effect on 11 April 2007 ­ "vehicles or combinations of vehicles with a maximum permissible mass not exceeding 7,5 tonnes used for the non-commercial carriage of goods;" are identified as exempt from the requirement. Therefore, (as from the above date) vehicles with a maximum permissible mass greater than 7.5 tonnes, now require a tachograph - even for non-commercial activities. I should point out that this is in VOSA s view and does not constitute legal opinion.


So is this finally some clarity on the situation? It would appear so however, we don’t want you to take unnecessary risks and therefore we recommend that you put your questions directly to the DVSA and seek independent legal advice.


If you have questions relating to operator licensing or you would like to apply for an operator licence please contact our friendly team on 01406 424500.


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