What is an operator’s licence?
An operator’s licence (or O licence) is the legal authority needed to operate goods vehicles in the United Kingdom.
What types of O licence are there?
There are different categories of licence according to the use to which vehicles are put.
Restricted licence – This allows the carriage of goods, but only on own account, within Great Britain and abroad.
Standard licence – This allows the carriage of goods for hire or reward in Great Britain (and also permits own account movements in GB and abroad).
Standard international licence – This allows the carriage of goods for hire or reward (and on own account) within Great Britain and abroad.
What is it for?
The O licence system ensures that minimum safety and environmental standards are in place to protect other road users and the public.
How long does it take to get an operator licence?
An application for a Goods Vehicle Operators Licence can take up to 9 weeks. Although is exceptional cases it is possible to obtain an interim licence.
Do I need an O licence?
You need an O licence to operate vehicles above 3,500 kg (3.5 tonnes) gross vehicle weight (gvw) that are used to carry goods (ie anything not permanently attached to the vehicle) on public roads for trade or business purposes. This includes short-term rental vehicles hired for as little as one day. The O licence must be held by the person – whether an individual or a company – who ‘uses’ the vehicle and this may or may not be the owner of the vehicle. The user of the vehicle can be:
- The driver, if they own it or if they are leasing, buying on hire purchase terms, hiring or borrowing the vehicle (eg a typical owner-driver operation)
- The person whose servant or agent the driver is – ie whoever employs or controls the driver
This covers both ‘own account’ and ‘hire or reward’ operations. Additionally, under O licence legislation all holders of standard National Operator Licences must be professionally competent or employ someone who is professionally competent. The most popular method of demonstrating this is to hold a National Certificate of Professional Competence.
How much will it cost?
The GV79 application fee payable to the Traffic Commission is £257. The fee payable for the issue of the licence is £401. Additionally, there will be the expense associated with advertising in your local newspaper the statutory public notice; typically this can cost approximately £250, depending on the publication.
Are there O Licence exemptions?
Yes, you are exempt from operator licensing if you operate a commercial vehicle less than 3.5tn. You are also exempt if you intend to use vehicles for personal and private use, for instance, a recreational vehicle, or horse transporter.
What are EU Derogations?
A derogation is an exemption from or relaxation of a rule or law. The term is often referred to in regard of EU rules (Regulation (EC) 561/2006) governing driver hours and vehicle operations. There are a number of vehicles exempt from EU regulation, regardless of where the vehicle is being driven in the EU, you should contact us or refer to Regulation (EC) 561/2006 for a complete list. Furthermore, the EU rules grant Member States the power to apply derogations to further specific categories of driver and vehicle operations while on national journeys. For definitive guidance it is necessary to refer to case law, which is constantly evolving, therefore we strongly advise seeking clarification before relying on a derogation.
How many goods vehicles can one person have on an operators licence?
There is no limit to the number of vehicles one person (operator) or business can have on an operator licence. However, you will need to be able to demonstrate you have the financial standing (enough money available) to satisfy the criteria for the number of vehicles authorised, also you will need it to have adequate parking and maintenance arrangements in place.
Operator licence advertising cost
The operator licence advertising cost varies depending on the qualifying newspaper in your area, it is best to contact us to get confirmation of which newspaper is authorised to accept GVOL notices, and to ensure you get the best possible price. Newspaper publishers tend to charge very high rates for single Public Notices, we, however, place hundreds of these notices and are able to obtain much better rates on your behalf.
GVL Management Limited is the leading UK based transport consultancy established in 2014. We provide support and guidance to operators of commercial goods vehicles.