Regulation – transport, storage and distribution sector


LGV operator licensing

The Goods Vehicle (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995 and Regulations made under it cover the licensing of goods vehicle operators in Great Britain.

You will need an operator’s licence if you run a vehicle:

  • with a gross plated weight of 3.5 tonnes or more
  • which does not have a plated weight but has an unladen weight of more than 1,525 kg

Licences are obtained from the Traffic Commissioner in the traffic area in which you have your operating centre. There are eight traffic areas in Great Britain and you must have a licence for each of the areas in which you have a base. Find your local traffic area on the VOSA website.

Type of licence required

There are three types of licence, depending on the haulage services that are provided:

  • Restricted licence – this only permits you to transport your own goods in the course of your business. You can’t transport anyone else’s goods for hire or reward, that is, for payment.
  • Standard national licence – this permits you to carry your own goods and to transport goods for hire or reward. You can only do this within Great Britain.
  • Standard international licence – this permits you to carry your own goods and to transport goods for hire or reward, both in Great Britain and abroad.

Conditions that must be met

Before granting a licence the Traffic Commissioners must be satisfied that the operator:

Number of vehicles that can be run

You can apply to operate as many vehicles as you will need to be able to offer the services you plan to provide. The licence will authorise the operation of this number of vehicles provided that you have satisfied the Traffic Commissioners that you can run and maintain them. You will be issued with identity discs for each of the vehicles covered by the licence. The disc must be displayed on the goods vehicle to which it belongs. You must not use it on any other vehicle.

For comprehensive information on goods-vehicle operator licensing:

The position in Northern Ireland

Goods vehicle operators in Northern Ireland operating a vehicle with a gross plated weight of more than 3.5 tonnes for hire and reward must obtain a Road Freight Operators Licence. The licence is issued by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Northern Ireland (DVLNI), part of the Department of the Environment (DOE). There are two types of licence:

  • a national road freight operator’s licence – this permits the operator to carry goods for reward within the United Kingdom
  • an international road freight operator’s licence – this allows goods to be carried for reward on international trips, including to the Republic of Ireland

Once the operator’s licence has been granted, the next step is to apply for a Road Freight Vehicle Licence disc for each of the vehicles that will be run. These must be displayed on the windscreen of each vehicle.

For more information on operator licensing in Northern Ireland:

This document is based on Crown Copyright © 2004-2011
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