Abuse of Operators’ Licences – When is Enough, Enough?

Operators LicencesThe latest licensing laws can be a minefield for HGV drivers and the fleet operators that employ them, but like any piece of legislation, applying for and holding the right operator’s licence is an important part of fulfilling your obligations and meeting those statutory requirements. Under UK law, every vehicle over 3.5 tonnes needs an operator’s licence from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Depending on the type of licence held, there are a plethora of conditions that must be met, for example, the owner is liable to say where the vehicle will be parked as well as submit a record of its maintenance regime and complete 6-8 weekly checks. Unfortunately, not all operators are doing what they should in accordance with the latest goods vehicle licensing laws and many abuse the system. To ensure every goods vehicle operator is clued up on the latest requirements, we have developed an essential guide so you can discover more about the types of licence, the associated conditions and what happens if the terms of the licence are broken.

About the operator’s licence

Every lorry, van or other vehicle with a gross plated weight of more than 3,500kg must have a licence. Knowing the licence types available is the first step to preventing operator abuse.

There are three types of licences for UK goods vehicle operators, and which one you need may come down to the destination of your goods, your chosen route and your employer. The standard national licence must be held by operators who are using the vehicle to transport their own goods both within the UK and internationally. The same licence should be held by those transporting another organisation’s goods in the UK. The second licence type is the standard international licence, which should be applied for by those transporting their own goods and operators undertaking journeys on behalf of someone else in the UK and internationally. For standard international licence holders travelling between, through or exclusively within EU member countries, Community Licences must also be issued.

The third and final licence is known as the ‘restricted licence’ and allows the holder to carry their own goods for as long as they pay the continuation fee.

Terms to consider

As well as requesting additional licensing for travel in EU member countries, there are other terms that must be met. When applying for your operator’s licence you must give the address of your proposed operating centre to indicate where your vehicle and its trailers will be stored when not in use. Under licensing laws, you must carry out your own inspections and maintenance checks to ensure the vehicle you are using is safe and in good condition. The employment of other drivers also carries additional requirements.

Breaking the terms of your licence

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is clamping down on licence abuse and regularly carries out roadside and operating centre checks.

If your vehicle is overloaded, unroadworthy or the driver has broken the rules regarding the transport of dangerous goods or drivers’ hours, your vehicle could be prohibited. Your licence may also be revoked if terms aren’t met, your vehicle is prohibited following inspection, health and safety requirements aren’t adhered to, or you are convicted of certain offences.