Operator Licensing – what you need to know

Operator licensing is the legal system in the UK for controlling the use of commercial vehicles for trade or business purposes.

Beverley Bell - Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain

Most goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (gvw) must be specified on an operator licence, unless privately used. The aims of the operator licensing system are to ensure the effective management of road safety and fair competition.

The system is administered by the DVSA operating on behalf of the Office of the Traffic Commissioner for UK licence holders and the Transport Regulation Unit for those licences in Northern Ireland. The address for all licence areas is:

DVSA Central Licensing Office Licence Application Services, Hillcrest House, 386 Harehills Lane, Leeds, LS9 6NF

The RHA can support members in all areas of operator licensing, from the initial O licence application process to compliance with the terms of the licence and with road haulage regulations. Specific services include: RHA Application Services; an operator licence systems and procedures compliance audit; and training courses, including Transport Manager CPC and refreshers for Transport Managers, and Driver CPC-accredited courses. In the UK, the RHA works with the Traffic Commissioners, DVSA, and the Department for Transport with a view to ensure the effectiveness of the O licensing system. In Northern Ireland, we work closely with the Transport Regulator, DVA and Department for the Environment.

For more information on O Licences including:

  • Operator licensing self-service
  • Licensing of goods vehicles
  • Exemptions
  • Types of licence
  • Authorised vehicles
  • Licence identity discs
  • Licence applications
  • Requirements for a licence to be granted
  • Criminal offences
  • Professional competence
  • Public inquiries
  • Traffic Commissioners’ / Transport Regulators’ regulatory powers
  • Environmental cases
  • Reviews of licences and licence fees
  • Notifiable changes
  • Appeals against TC/TRU decisions
  • A summary of Operator Licence responsibilities
  • A summary of key issues.

Please refer to the RHA Haulage Manual or contact your RHA Regional office.

Read more about RHA's Compliance Audits & contracts of employment