Operator’s Licences for vans/LGVs to be introduced

  • Posted

If you are going to use vehicles over 2.5 tonnes (and up to 3.5 tonnes) to transport goods commercially you may now need an operator’s licence from 21 May 2022 – but only if the journeys are in an EU Member State (not in Great Britain or Northern Ireland) and the work is not ‘own account’.

Currently, such international work requires a Standard International Operator’s Licence for goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

All businesses affected will have to comply with this new operator licensing requirement. Further, the vehicles affected will not just be vans, but any vehicles carrying goods vehicles over 2.5 tonnes up to 3.5 tonnes, for hire or reward. In addition, a vehicle combination (vehicle with trailer) may come into scope if the combined weight exceeds 2.5 tonnes.

It is thought there are about 21,000 vehicles (ca 9,000 GB and ca 11,500 NI vans) and 4,200 operators affected by this.

Operator licensing will apply only if all the following conditions are met:

  • the vehicle is being used for hire and reward (not ‘own account’) – e.g. the carriage of goods for a third party such as van courier work
  • it is an international journey within the EU.

So, the bottom line is that, for international work, the need for a Standard International Operator’s Licence drops down to anything over 2.5 tonnes from anything over 3.5 tonnes.

This is agreed as part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) reached between the EU and the UK but would have occurred even if the UK had not left the EU.

What to do now?

So, those that do not currently operate LGVs within the EU and intend to do so need to think now about licensing and plan. A Standard International licence will have to be applied for, through the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. (Ashtons Legal will be able to assist in due course when all the new arrangements are fully known.)

A standard international licence will not be required for operators who are transporting their own goods. In the UK a Restricted Licence is required to carry own goods – but only for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVW. This will remain the case. It is not intended that Restricted Licence operations will be extended downwards to cover goods vehicles below 3.5 tonnes, whether operated in the UK or internationally.

Whether an ‘own account’/Restricted licence is or is not required is subject to legal tests and for further advice get in touch with us. EU Regulation 1072/2009 contains a definition of ‘own account’, where all the following conditions must be fulfilled:

  1. the goods carried are the property of the undertaking or have been sold, bought, let out on hire or hired, produced, extracted, processed or repaired by the undertaking
  2. the purpose of the journey is to carry the goods to or from the undertaking or to move them, either inside or outside the undertaking for its own requirements
  3. motor vehicles used for such carriage are driven by personnel employed by or put at the disposal of, the undertaking under a contractual obligation
  4. the vehicles carrying the goods are owned by the undertaking, have been bought by it on deferred terms or have been hired
  5. such carriage is no more than ancillary to the overall activities of the undertaking.


Since vans/LGVs will be brought into licensing their operators will need an operator’s licence either for the first time or need to add such vehicles to an existing fleet licence.

For an LGV-only fleet, there will be a requirement for financial standing (the amount to which the business must always have ready access) in the sum of £1,600 for the first vehicle and £800 for each further vehicle. If there is a mixed HGV/LGV fleet then £800 will be required for each LGV, to be added to the existing financial requirement.

As on all Standard licences, a Transport Manager CPC-qualified transport manager will have to be appointed. However, an exemption will be permitted if a person declares they have continuously managed LGV vehicles for a 10-year period prior to 20 August 2020. The Department for Transport proposal is that such ‘acquired rights’ only be valid for a three-year period through to 20 May 2025, by which time transport managers will have been expected to obtain their Transport Manager CPC qualification.

It should be remembered that some operator’s licence laws and procedures have only ever been in force in the UK through our own GB and NI regulations. They were never implemented because required by EU regulations e.g. rules about operating centres or advertising or maintenance intervals.

A Department for Transport consultation on this is ongoing and closes on 24th August 2021. It poses questions on how this should be approached, not least in areas where there will be discretion as to how to proceed and whether licences for LGVs should be approached in the same way as current licences for HGVs. Generally, they seek to know how businesses may be affected but also whether specifically, operators should have to have operating centres and have to advertise them in a way akin to goods operators.

Our Road Transport law team can help you

Ashtons Legal provides dedicated, niche advice in the area of road transport law, including operator licensing as well as representation in Court and at Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiry hearings.

For more information about this or any other aspects of road transport law please get in touch with us through our online enquiry form or by calling 0330 404 0749. We would be delighted to help you and your business.


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