Do I need a HGV Operators License in the UK?

The question of requirement of a Operators licence to drive a HGV is commonly asked and often misunderstood. In short though, the answer is Yes, you will need one subject to a few exceptions.

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What is an Operators Licence?

An Operators licence, or commonly known as an ‘O Licence’ is a legal authority required to drive and operate a goods vehicle here in the UK. Licences are issued by an independent regulator, the Traffic Commissioner who also holds the power to press action against those who fail to meet the standards expected of a licence holder. These actions can include curtailment, which is to limit or reduce the number of vehicles an operator is able to operate, suspension or revocation (short term of permanent removal of a licence stopping you from operating).

When do I need a O Licence?

You need an operators licence to operate vehicles that are above 3.5 Tonnes gross vehicle weight that are to be used for the transport of goods on public roads for commercial of business purposes. Essentially, this means and vehicle used by a business that weighs more than 3.5T will require an O Licence. This also includes short term use.

The Operator’s licence is to be held by the person who uses the vehicle. This can be an individual or company. The ‘user’ of the vehicle can be defined by:

  • the driver, if they own, lease or borrow the vehicle. Commonly known as an ‘Owner-driver setup’.
  • the employer or controller of the driver using the vehicle.

As well as holding an operators licence, all holders, or drivers working under a holder must be professionally competent. It is suggested that all drivers and operators gain a National Certificate or Professional Competence.

Will I get Insurance without an O Licence?

Most HGV Insurance Brokers will not quote unless a valid operators licence is in place. It is possible to gain a policy if you are driving a classic where you will not be using it for commercial gain or carriage of goods. You can find out more about this on our Classic HGV Insurance page.