Last reviewed 23 May 2022

The Operator Licensing requirements for vans, pick-up trucks or cars weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes and which operate internationally for hire or reward, come into effect on 21 May 2022. Operators that fall within this category will be required to hold a standard international licence and meet most of the same requirements as those that operate heavy goods vehicles. Michael Jewell looks at the new rules and the mandatory requirement to engage a Transport Manager who resides in the UK and who is of good repute and professionally competent.

Engaging a Transport Manager

A nominated Transport Manager is required to have effective and continuous management of an organisation’s transport activities and they must be more than just a Transport Manager in name only. In broad terms, the Transport Manager must ensure that drivers have a valid licence and that vehicles are taxed, have a valid MOT and are insured at all times. They must also ensure vehicles are properly maintained, that they are fit and serviceable at all times, and that proper records are kept. Additionally, they need to ensure that work is priced so that it can be completed both legally and profitably and they must make sure that vehicles are loaded safely and not overloaded. The Transport Manager should also arrange work so that drivers do not break drivers’ hours rules or speed and should monitor that drivers’ hours are properly recorded.

There are three ways of obtaining the necessary Transport Manager. First, operators can apply for an existing member of staff (or themselves) to be temporarily recognised as a Transport Manager known as “acquired rights”. Second, a Transport Manager holding the necessary Certificate of Professional Competence qualification can be employed as a member of staff. Third, an external qualified Transport Manager can be employed.

In the first case, the person applying to be a temporary Transport Manager must have 10 years or more experience managing a fleet of light goods vehicles prior to 20 August 2020. The person concerned can only be a temporary Transport Manager until 21 May 2025. They will need to pass the Transport Manager’s Certificate of Professional Competence to continue in the role after that date. If the Secretary of State decides not to grant an exemption, the applicant may appeal the decision to a Traffic Commissioner (TC) within 28 days. The law does not prevent new evidence being placed before the TC but the TC considering the appeal may issue a time limit regarding the production of new evidence and may prevent any further evidence being admitted after that date.

If it is decided to employ an external Transport Manager, they need to sign a contract clearly setting out their duties, the hours to be worked and their payment arrangements. An external Transport Manager must not work for more than four operators who, in total, must not operate more than 50 vehicles.

It is incumbent upon the operator to ensure that any appointed Transport Manager has the continuing ability and determination to give full and practical application to their statutory duties.

Gaining an Operator’s Licence

If a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Standard International Operator’s Licence is already held, the vans, pickup trucks, cars and trailers used to transport goods to Europe need to be added to that licence and assigned a specific operating centre.

If an HGV International Operator’s Licence is not held, a Light Goods Vehicle (LGV) Standard International Licence will need to be applied for in the Traffic Area in which the operator is based. When an LGV International Operator’s Licence is granted for the first time the operator will also receive a UK licence for the Community.

In order to obtain such a licence there are a number of criteria that the operator is required to meet. Applicants must show that they:

  • have sufficient financial standing to enable them to safely maintain and operate the vehicles

  • have adequate maintenance arrangements

  • have systems in place to ensure compliance with the law

  • are of good repute and fit persons to hold a licence.

The latter criterion is judged by reference to any previous convictions and past conduct in the transport industry.

Variations between the LGV and HGV licences

Many of the conditions laid down for an HGV operating centre will not apply to an operating centre for LGVs. However, the LGV operator must have an “…effective and stable establishment”. That is the address where it keeps its core business documents and, in particular, records of accounting, personnel management, data relating to driving time and rest periods and any other documents the Traffic Commissioner or enforcing authorities may require in order to verify compliance with the requirements of the licence.

With regards to finance, the financial standing requirement is less onerous. Operators of only LGVs must show available finance of £1600 for the first vehicle and £800 for each additional vehicle. Operators who add LGVs to their existing HGV International licence will have to show additional available finance of £800 per light goods vehicle added.

Interim licences and application fees

When applying for an Operator Licence, which can take up to nine weeks to issue, the applicant should also ask for an interim licence. An interim licence is a temporary licence that can be issued more quickly than a full licence. This means that, once issued, the interim licence can be used to operate in Europe from 21 May 2022 while the full licence is still being processed if the requirements are met.

The required fees are £257 for making the full licence application, £68 for making an interim licence application and £401 for the issue of the full licence. The full licence is renewable every five years for a fee of £401.