Operator’s licence: vans/car and trailers update – May 2022

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In our earlier article, we explained the operator licencing changes taking effect from 21 May 2022.  An operator’s licence will be required to cover the use of vans, cars and trailers exceeding 2.5 tonnes to transport goods into and out of the UK. (This affects only international work).

Some businesses will already have an operator’s licence – they will need to add any relevant vehicles to that licence or vary the licence if the current licence is not large enough.

Those businesses currently without an operator’s licence will need to apply for a new one, for the first time.  We can assist with this. The licence is only needed for ‘hire or reward’ work i.e. not own goods but carrying of goods for third parties

Financial standing rules: businesses must always have readily available financial resources. For a van fleet £1,600 will be required for the first vehicle and a further £800 for each additional vehicle.

Transport Manager Rules

Any Standard licence requires the appointment of a qualified transport manager.  This still applies to businesses operating these smaller vehicles and trailers under a Standard International Licence.

If the business is not able to employ either a transport manager with a Transport Manager CPC qualification or an external qualified transport manager then they can appoint a transport manager without a transport manager CPC qualification by a different route.  They will then be deemed to be qualified to be a nominated transport manager under so-called ‘acquired rights’. On 14th December 2021, the Office of the Traffic Commissioner confirmed the criteria for this:

  • the proposed transport manager must be able to demonstrate at least 10 years of fleet management experience before 20 August 2020 – evidence of fleet management means showing responsibility for vehicle tax, MOTs and driver licensing, properly maintained vehicles, safe loading and vehicles not overloaded, speeding, drivers’ hours and legal/profitable work pricing. (NB the online form appears to require an applicant to confirm all these activities have been done)
  • full details of all businesses worked at since 20 August 2020 must be provided with job/role titles, dates and any periods of unemployment/maternity or paternity leave for three months or more.
  • there is no application fee but the deadline to apply is 21 May 2024 and applications can be made now
  • if recognised as a transport manager these ‘acquired rights’ run only as a bridging period until 21 May 2025, after which date the CPC transport manager qualification is required.
  • he or she must demonstrate they are to work for a business transporting goods out of the UK using the following:
  • vans or other light goods vehicles, also known as light commercial vehicles
  • vans towing trailers, with a combined weight of 3.5 tonnes or less
  • cars towing trailers, with a combined weight of 3.5 tonnes or less.

What vehicles do the new rules apply to?

  • vans with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) over 2,500kg (2.5 tonnes) and up to and including 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes)
  • vans towing a trailer with a gross train weight (GTW) over 2.5 tonnes and up to and including 3.5 tonnes
  • cars towing a trailer with a GTW over 2.5 tonnes and up to and including 3.5 tonnes.


As these rules come into force from 21 May 2022, it will be necessary to have the necessary licence in place by that date – so any application for any new licence will need to be made in good time.

Existing licence holders will need to check they have a large enough licence to add any further vehicles – if they do not, then a variation application will have to be made (that includes proving sufficient financial standing for the increased authorisation.) NB it is not yet possible to add vans and car and trailers to a licence. (To be further advised by the DfT later.)

The Standard International Licence covers the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

If you require further information about this or any other road transport regulatory matter then please do not hesitate to contact us.


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