Light Goods Vehicles: New Operator’s Licence Rules (from 21 May 2022)

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From 21 May 2022 goods vehicle Operator Licencing is extended to cover Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs) and will also affect cars with trailers.

We explained the background to this in an earlier article.

Many licence applications have already been granted, but operators who have not yet made their application, for whatever reason, need to move quickly to ensure they can continue to conduct their transport operations from 21 May.

This law change would still have occurred even if the UK had remained within the EU.

The rule change affects vehicles that operate:

  • internationally
  • for hire or reward (carrying third party goods that in the UK requires a Standard Licence, not where transport is the operator’s main operation that in the UK requires a Restricted Licence – ‘own account’ operations).

In some cases, it is arguable whether the work is ‘hire or reward’ or not, and here it is important to take legal advice. HM Government guidance suggests that operators consider the following issues:

  • is the transport of the goods part of the business?
  • does the operator hold, and rely on when carrying those goods, a type of insurance policy that covers carriage of goods for reward?
  • does the carrying result in payment, direct or indirect, which benefits the owner or user of the vehicle?

And, if the answer to any is ‘yes’, then it is ‘hire and reward’. In most cases, it will be very clear what category the work falls into.

The vehicle/trailers requiring an operator’s licence for an international* journey for hire or reward will be:

  • motor vehicles with a gross plated weight of more than 2.5 tonnes and up to 3.5 tonnes
  • motor vehicle and trailer combinations exceeding 2500kgs and up to 3500kgs maximum authorised mass.

NB this will affect not only vans but also cars towing a trailer over 2.5 tonnes and to 3.5 tonnes.

Therefore, businesses that currently do not have an Operator’s Licence to conduct these operations must apply for one. Those Operators who currently have an Operator’s Licence but do not operate Light Goods Vehicles internationally will have to adjust their Licences by adding LGVs, as necessary.

Licence Applications

Applications for the necessary Standard International licences are made in the normal way through the Government VOL system.

Ashtons Legal can assist in this process.

Whilst in some ways the application process itself has recently been made simpler, all necessary information has to be marshalled, it must be accurate and the application must be well thought through to avoid pitfalls causing unnecessary delay.

Where applications are made for LGV vehicles only, these are currently being granted with an undertaking attached to the Operator’s Licence that authorised vehicles shall not exceed 3500kgs including when combined with a trailer.

Financial Standing

Operator’s Licence holders must demonstrate the requirement to be of the requisite financial standing, by demonstrating readily accessible financial resources.

From 21 May 2022, Lights Goods Vehicle (LGV) Operators will have to show £1,600 for the first Light Goods Vehicle (if no Heavy Goods Vehicles are operated) and £800 for each Lights Goods Vehicle (existing HGV holders have to demonstrate £8,000 for the first HGV and £4,500 for each additional HGV but then must show they have sufficient finance for their existing fleet plus £800 per additional van or car and trailer on the fleet).

Transport Managers

Standard HGV Goods Operator Licence Holders must demonstrate ‘professional competence’ by having a qualified Transport Manager. LGV Operators will need this too and it will have to be done in one of the following ways:

  • employing in-house an internal Transport Manager with Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
  • engaging an external Transport Manager CPC holder
  • apply for temporary Transport Manager status.

Temporary Transport Manager

Many businesses operating internationally (e.g. courier work) will never have needed qualified transport managers; so, a bridging solution has been devised to tide them over for the interim.

If the LGV Operator can demonstrate a staff member has 10 years of managing fleets of vehicles prior to 20 August 2022, they can apply to be temporarily recognised as a Transport Manager. This temporary recognition only lasts for applications and licence grants until the 21st May 2025, so by then that person needs to either pass the Transport Manager CPC qualification or a different qualified Transport Manager must have been appointed. There is an appeals process against any refusal for a person to be temporarily recognised as a Transport Manager.

Posting declarations

Quite separately, the business may, or may not, need to declare that it is transporting goods between two points. It does not follow that if you require an Operator’s licence for LGVs you have to make these declarations for all journeys in all circumstances. It depends on the journey. The rules for this (already in force for HGV, vans, trailers etc) can be found on the Government website here.

Drivers’ Hours/Tachographs

Further down the line, LGVs in the 2.5 to 3.5-tonne range will require the fitment and use of tachographs from 1st July 2026. This will only apply to “hire or reward” operations.

Contact our road transport solicitors today

If you require any advice with regard to Goods and Passenger Operator Licencing, including advice concerning DVSA Investigations, correspondence with the Office of The Traffic Commissioner or Traffic Commissioner Preliminary Hearing/Public Inquiry work, then please contact us using our online enquiry form or by calling 0330 404 7949.


*transport of goods in the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.


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