Transport Operator Professional Competence: What is it and who needs it?

What is Professional Competence?

In the context of the management of road transport operations, professional competence refers to the meeting of certain qualifying conditions, by individuals, and any individual can become professionally competent by passing a DfT-approved examination or gaining another qualification recognised by the Department for Transport. No transport industry experience is required, nor is there any requirement to demonstrate the practical ability (eg through the achievement of a suitable NVQ).

Who Needs to Be Professionally Competent?

Road transport operators who wish to work for hire or reward, either nationally or internationally, must be professionally competent or employ at least one professionally competent transport manager, as required by EC Regulation 1071/2009, which establishes common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with to pursue the occupation of the road transport operator. The provisions of EC Regulation 1071/2009 are enacted in UK law by the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 and the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, as appropriate.

Any application for a Standard O-licence must, therefore, include the details of a person who is of good repute, professionally competent and who has continuous and effective responsibility for vehicle operations. This person should be a director, owner, shareholder or employee of the business (internal transport manager) but may be some other person acting under a contract (external transport manager).

Own account operators — those businesses that only transport their own goods and materials — do not need to employ a professionally competent person as part of their O-licensing arrangements. Own account operators can apply for a Restricted licence, which has no requirement to appoint an individual with professional competence qualifications. If a company that would qualify to operate on a Restricted licence wishes to transport goods for other businesses on occasion, they must apply for a Standard O-licence and they would need to employ a professionally competent person.

Those who wish to transport both their own goods and other people’s goods within the UK and internationally need to apply for a Standard international licence.

Further Reading:

This article makes up part of our Transport Operators Professional Competence series. We recommend you read the following articles to help give you a good understanding of the requirements for transport operators.


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