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FAQ's Goods Vehicle Operator Licence

FAQ’s Frequently Asked Questions

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 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.

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.

What types of O licence are there?

There are different categories of licence according to the use to which vehicles are put.

Restricted licenceThis 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 licenceThis allows the carriage of goods for hire or reward (and on own account) within Great Britain and abroad.


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.


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.