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Operator Licence Applications

How do I apply for an operator licence?

You need an operator licence if your business utilises goods vehicles above 3.5 tonnes. The licencing system is governed by the DVSA on behalf of the Traffic Commissioners across the UK.  You must possess a valid operator licence before starting to operate vehicles - to do so beforehand is illegal and could prevent your application from being granted. You must complete a number of forms and meet certain criteria - click here for some tips on how to apply for an operator licence or call us today to arrange your free consultation.

What are the current operator licence fees?

There are two (and sometimes three) operator licence fees payable when applying for your licence. An application fee of £257 must accompany your completed GV79 form; this fee is non-returnable. Once the licence has been granted, an additional fee of £401 is applicable for its issue. If you are looking for interim authorisation, an extra fee of £68 is applicable and should be enclosed with an additional INT1 form alongside your GV79. A fee of £401 is due every five years should you wish to continue your licence.

What are the current operator licence finance levels?

Operator licence finance levels are adjusted on an annual basis. As of January 2018, for a Standard type licence, you must show financial standing of £7,950 for the first vehicle and £4,400 for each additional vehicle. For example, if you apply for a three vehicle licence, you must have available resources of £16,750. For Restricted licences, you must show £3,100 for the first vehicle and £1,700 for each additional vehicle. Again, as an example, a two vehicle licence would require financial standing of £4,800.

What are notifiable convictions? Will they stop me from getting a licence?

Notifiable convictions are specified offences that the Traffic Commissioner will take into account when deciding whether you are a fit and proper person to be holding an operator licence. A list of all relevant convictions that should be declared can be found here on page 28-29. If you have a notifiable conviction, the Traffic Commissioner may request your attendance at a Public Inquiry to decide whether to grant a new licence.

Do I need a transport manager?

Transport managers (or CPC holders as they are also known) are required for Standard-type licences. Restricted licences do not require a transport manager to be listed on the application. In as much that a transport manager is not required on paper for these types of licences, it is highly advisable to have a member of staff or a suitably appointed party assume the responsibilities of ensuring compliance with all latest legislation.

How many hours do I need to contribute as a CPC holder to a Standard-type licence?

The Senior Traffic Commissioner approved “guideline” hours that transport managers must spend on any specified licence – the table can be found on page 19 here. Please note that these aren’t suggested hours – if you fail to allocate and evidence the minimum number of hours when applying, you will likely be refused as CPC holder for the licence.

Operator Licence Application – How Long Does It Take?

Historically and in our experience, an operator licence application can take between 9-12 weeks to be granted. However in recent times, we have been able to help businesses receive their operator licence within 4-5 weeks which demonstrates the value of involving specialist consultants like GRT. The time it takes for your licence to be granted depends greatly on the information disclosed at the point of application. Many operators submit incomplete or inaccurate applications which take time to be processed and then have to be sent back out to be recompleted. Failure to disclose previous history in the licencing system or unspent convictions for example, can result in your application being referred to the Traffic Commissioner who may decide a Public Inquiry is required. In some extreme cases, we've seen applications take up to 1 year to be granted which has an obvious debilitating effect on the business. If you need to start operating sooner, you can request interim authorisation – contact us for more information.


General Compliance

OCRS Score – What is it?

One of the first things that we look to ascertain with new clients is what their OCRS Score currently stands at – and often, they have no idea!  (more…)

How often should my vehicle be inspected?

Safety inspection intervals for all commercial vehicles should fall between 4-10 weeks. The standard interval is generally 6 weeks but depending on the type of work you’re doing and the terrain the vehicle is usually travelling on, this can differ. For example, if you are involved in quarry work or regularly drive on building sites, these type of conditions can contribute to accelerated ‘wear and tear’ and inspecting vehicles more frequently would be recommended. Alternatively, if your vehicle accumulates low mileage and is only ever lightly loaded, it may be more practical to inspect every 8-10 weeks.

How long do vehicle maintenance records need to be kept?

You should retain all maintenance records for a minimum of 15 months.

Can I use a mobile fitter?

The Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness was revised in 2014 to include the requirement “access to an adequate under-vehicle inspection facility”. However, to date, we have not encountered any operators who have been advised that using mobile fitters is unsuitable.

HGV brake testing – how often? Are road tests only acceptable?

HGV brake testing should be one of the most crucial components in your preventative maintenance systems. EVERY safety inspection must assess the braking performance of the vehicle or trailer. It is strongly advised that a calibrated roller brake tester is used at each safety inspection to measure individual brake performance and overall braking efficiencies. It is also acceptable to use an approved and calibrated decelerometer to test vehicles without trailers to measure overall brake efficiency values. Road tests are permitted – however if this is the only method of brake testing, it will be deemed inadequate. It is normally expected that a vehicle should complete at least three successful brake efficiency tests spread throughout the year in addition to the annual MOT test. Guidance was issued by the DVSA in April 2016 which you can read here.

How long should a daily walk around check last? Is there any minimum time limit?

Some erroneous information is circulating that a daily walk around check must last a minimum period of time. There is no minimum period; however, we would suggest taking between 5 and 10 minutes to carry out a comprehensive check. Remember to insert your tachograph prior to carrying out your daily walk around check and set the mode switch to “cross hammers” to record the activity of other work as this is a legal requirement. Some operators can have doubts over the effectiveness of a driver's daily check. This can result in 'driver discoverable' defects being picked up during safety inspections. Contact us today for some free advice on how to address these issues. Here is some guidance on what your daily walk around check should include.

Interested in learning more about daily walk-around checks?

Click here to see our upcoming Defect Reporting training courses.

What is an S marked prohibition?

An S marked prohibition is the most serious of these prohibitions and is issued when an examiner believes a severe defect is due to a significant breakdown in the vehicle's maintenance procedures. Failing to connect the EBS line between the trailer and unit is a common example of when an S marked prohibition could be issued. Other examples include driving incomplete vehicles on the public road without trade plates and severe tyre damage. S marked prohibitions are referred to DVSA Regional Enforcement and are almost always followed up with a maintenance investigation which scrutinises the procedures that the operator has in place to ensure compliance. Unless the operator is able to demonstrate a satisfactory level of compliance across the rest of the fleet, there is a high possibility of the case being referred to the Traffic Commissioner who may then decide to hold a Public Inquiry to determine whether any restrictive measures should be placed on your licence. It is important to drill down into the circumstances of the S marked prohibition as soon as you receive notification of its issue. Getting a clear and accurate picture of what caused the prohibition to be issued allows you to take proactive steps to ensure remedial action is taken before DVSA arrive to inspect which can stand you in good stead. Contact us today for some free advice on how to deal with your S marked prohibition.  

Nil defect reporting – what is it? How long should I keep reports?

Nil defect reporting is the most common method for reporting defects. This requires drivers to complete a check form even if no defects are present. It is highly recommended to implement a nil defect reporting system as it can be your first line of defence when trying to demonstrate that your vehicles are maintained in a roadworthy condition. It is important to ensure your drivers are completing defect reports fully to include all required information. This includes:
  • date
  • driver name
  • vehicle registration
  • odometer reading
  • details of any discovered defect
  • who the defect was reported to
It is also very important to ensure rectification work is recorded on the defect report and signed off by the repairer. Any reports with recorded defects must be retained for 15 months in your vehicle files. Nil reports where no defects have been recorded should be kept for as long as they are useful - which generally means until the next report is produced or until the vehicle's next safety inspection (recommended). Contact us for advice on how nil defect reports can be used to identify the effectiveness of your driver(s) daily walk round checks.



How much does it cost to apply for a replacement digital card?

If your card has been lost, stolen or damaged, you can request a new one from the DVLA. You must re-complete the initial form which you can download from our VOSA Documents section. The cost of a replacement card is £19.

How many analogue tachographs must you carry when driving?

You must carry records for the current working day and the previous 28 calendar days. You must also return any analogue charts to your operator within 42 days.

How often must a digital tachograph be checked and calibrated?

Unlike analogue tachographs where the tachograph head is checked every two years and re-calibrated every six years, digital tachographs must be fully re-calibrated:
  • every two years
  • after any repair
  • if the vehicle registration number has changed
  • if there has been a change in tyre circumference

Interested in learning more about digital tachographs?

Click here to see our upcoming Tachograph training dates.


Public Inquiries

What happens at a Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry?

You will receive a pack through the post detailing why you have been called to Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry. The call-up letter may request additional documentation to be provided before your Inquiry – it’s important to provide this in a timely fashion. Your Inquiry will be held in a hearing room (similar to a Magistrate’s court). The Traffic Commissioner and their clerk will be present – and as the name may give away, these hearings are open to the public to attend although it is unusual for anyone to be there. At your Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry, you will be expected to discuss your business and transport needs in detail to demonstrate how you are presently achieving compliance. The Traffic Commissioner will ask questions and cross-examine whilst a DVSA examiner may be present to give evidence if your Inquiry is the result of a roadside stop or maintenance investigation. It’s important to answer any questions in an honest manner and to take on board that mistakes may have been made in your compliance standards. That’s why taking proactive measures such as rendering professional support can be very beneficial and stand you in good stead. Contact us for more information on how we can help you prepare.

Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry Outcomes – What Could Happen?

Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry outcomes can vary depending on the circumstances which have led you to a hearing and your conduct on the day. The Traffic Commissioner possesses the authority to take action against licence holders in a number of ways. These include curtailment, suspension and revocation of your licence; the addition of conditions to your licence; the removal of company directors; and for transport managers, the loss of your professional repute. Therefore, ensuring compliance is of the utmost importance if you are to avoid potential business-altering action.

Should I take legal representation?

Often, operators will hire lawyers or solicitors to help present their case at Public Inquiry. As much as this can be helpful on certain occasions, it can also be a costly and sometimes unnecessary expense as the Traffic Commissioner is more interested in hearing from you with respect to how you run your transport operation and the systems you have in place to ensure compliance. We offer a cost-effective alternative which has helped many operators achieve a successful outcome at their Public Inquiry – click here for more info.

Can I appeal a decision against me?

You can appeal against a decision made by the Traffic Commissioner to the Upper Tribunal Administrative Appeals Chamber. You need to complete a “Notice of Appeal” within one month of receiving the Traffic Commissioner’s written decision. It is advisable to get some advice on the decision that you intend to appeal – get in touch with us for some free and impartial advice.


ADR Training

Who needs ADR training?

Under the European Agreement on ADR, drivers of vehicles with tanks and certain tank components, and some drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods in packages, must hold a special vocational certificate of training, usually referred to as an ADR training certificate or a Driver Training Certificate (DTC). Since the regulations were changed in 2004, more people involved in the carriage of these types of goods were given responsibilities and require awareness training in the operations that they undertake; these people include loaders, handlers, consigners and consignees.

How long does the course last and what does it cover?

The initial ADR course lasts for five days and covers goods in tanks and packages of classes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9. Refresher candidates can also attend this course to extend their current qualifications. If you have specific requirements, we can customise a course to suit. More information can be found here.

How long does the qualification last?

The ADR qualification has to be retaken every five years.

Is there an exam involved?

Yes, a formal exam follows each of the modules required which is marked externally by the SQA.

Does ADR training count towards my Driver CPC training entitlement?

Your ADR training can account for a maximum of 21 hours towards your periodic Driver CPC training if sitting an initial course and 7 hours if sitting a refresher. There is a small surcharge to cover administration and DSA upload fees.


Driver CPC Training

Banking CPC hours – is this allowed?

It is not possible to bank CPC hours beyond your current 5-year period. For example, if you have a card that expires in September 2019 but have completed 35 hours by September 2017, you won’t be able to start your next cycle of training until after the expiry date. On each driver’s online training account, there are validity dates listed at the top of the page. To register for access, you can enter a driver’s licence number and postcode here. A pass code is then posted out by DVSA and once this is entered along with the driving licence number, the training account should come up.

What is the Driver CPC?

Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) is a qualification introduced for all professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. It has been introduced to help maintain and increase driving standards and road safety.

What were “acquired rights”?

"Acquired rights" ended for PSV and LGV drivers on 10th September 2013 and 10th September 2014 respectively. Previously, you could have the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) through ‘acquired rights’ if you were already a professional lorry, bus or coach driver - provided that you held your licence prior to 10th September 2008 and 10th September 2009 respectively. This meant that because you had already been working as a lorry or bus driver, your experience counted as the same as taking the Driver CPC initial qualification. However, you were still expected to complete 35 hours of periodic training to retain your driving entitlement.

CPC Initial Qualification – What Is It?

The CPC initial qualification must be completed by new drivers since the introduction of the CPC legislation in 2008/09. This consists of four modules:
  • Theory test – a multiple-choice test followed by hazard perception clips
  • Driver CPC case study – 50 multiple-choice questions
  • Practical driving test
  • Driver CPC practical test – a demonstration covering 5 sections relating to vehicle safety
We have heard from many drivers who were never advised by their training company that they required the initial qualification. Failure to complete this means that you do not have a valid licence and could be prosecuted for driving a vehicle without the appropriate entitlement. Once you have completed your initial qualification, you will have five years from the date of completion to attain 35 hours of periodic training in order to retain your Driver CPC. As of March 2015, drivers who have not yet acquired their Driver Qualification Card can bypass periodic training by sitting module 2 and 4. More information can be found here.

Am I exempt?

Any drivers of lorries over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with nine seats or more must obtain the Driver CPC qualification. There are a few exempt groups, however:
  • Drivers under the control of the armed forces, civil defence, the fire service and forces responsible for maintaining public order
  • Drivers of vehicles used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods for personal use
  • Incidental drivers – those whose who carrying material or equipment to be used in the course of his/her work, provided that driving the vehicle is not the main activity, e.g. a bricklayer carrying bricks to a site
You can contact us for some free advice if you feel an exemption may apply to you.

When is the periodic training deadline for existing drivers?

The deadline for attaining this qualification was 09 September 2013 for PSV drivers and 09 September 2014 for LGV drivers. The next deadline for many PSV and LGV drivers who previously held 'acquired rights' is 09 September 2019.

Once I have completed 35 hours of periodic training, is that it?

No – your Driver Qualification Card (DQC) lasts for five years. To retain your qualification, you will need to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years to continue to drive professionally.

Is there an exam involved?

Some short question sheets are issued to assess how well you have understood the material being presented but there is no pass/fail element involved.

I hold PCV and LGV licences – do I need to complete two sets of periodic training?

You only need to complete one set of periodic training every five years.

What should I do if I lose my DQC? Can I still drive?

You should contact the DVSA if your card has been lost, stolen or damaged. There will be a £25 fee for the replacement. You can still drive professionally for 15 days while waiting for your replacement card to arrive so long as you have paid the fee. To speak to a member of the DVSA CPC team, please call 0300 200 1122.

I’ve got a National/International CPC – do I still require periodic training?

Yes. National or International CPC's are separate qualifications and if you hold either of these and still drive professionally as part of your job, you will also need to complete 35 hours of periodic training.

What will happen if I don’t complete any periodic training before the deadline?

Failing to produce a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) or driving without having completed any periodic training means incurring a potential fine of £1000 for both the driver and the employer if they have caused or permitted the driver to work without the qualification.

How do you check your Driver CPC online training account?

You can check your Driver CPC online training account here. You must register for the service first - to do this, enter your driving licence number and postcode where requested. A password will then be sent to the address stated on your driving licence. Once you have received this, return to the log-in page and input this password along with your driving licence number.