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How to apply for Operator's Licence from A to Z

Updated: Nov 26, 2020


An Operator Licence is an authorisation to operate vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes in their gross plated weight or buses in the UK and Europe. It is issued by the Traffic Commissioner to an individual or organisation operating vehicles in their possession or control. The licence is not transferable, and therefore you cannot lend the licence to someone else. Obtaining operator's licence requires a commitment to it's undertakings, which are legal promises to keep vehicles and drivers legal and safe on the road. The general undertakings are specifically listed on the licence document and need to be adhered to, otherwise the licence is likely to be revoked.


  1. Restricted Licence – Allowing individuals or businesses to transport their own goods or in connection with their own business. This type of licence excludes the opportunity to provide transport services!

  2. Standard National – Includes operation of restricted licence but also allows one to provide domestic transport services. You should apply for this licence if you want to provide transport services.

  3. Standard International – Allows international transport as well as benefits of the national and restricted licences.


It is important to check which licence you require before applying.

Restricted licence holders do not need to meet same financial standing criteria ​as Standard Licence holders and they do not need a Transport Manager. However, Restricted Licence holders still need to meet the same safety and compliance criteria! It is also important to ensure that Restricted Licence holders only transport their own goods and do not provide transport services to other people.


When applying for O'Licence you will need the to meet the following requirements. Please ensure you are ready before starting the procedure:

  • Financial standing - you will be required to demonstrate that you or the organisation that is applying for the Operator's Licence holds access to sufficient funds to support the cost of operating vehicles and keep them in serviceable condition. The minimum financial standing requirements are published by the Traffic Commissioner every year. There is a significant difference in the minimum requirements for Restricted and for Standard Licences. Please note that the bank or any other statement needs to be in the applicant's (in the case of Limited companies this must be in the company's name, and in the case of a sole trader the individuals name). Funds available in company director's account who applies for limited company will not be counted. Overdraft and credit card facilities can also be used to support the application, but again this needs to be in the name of the person or organisation applying for the O'Licence. The full requirements are explained in Senior Traffic Commissioner's statutory guidance where you can find alternative ways to meet financial standing requirements

  • Vehicle Parking - OPERATING CENTRE. The vehicles that will be authorised on the Operator's Licence need to have a sufficient parking facility for the time they are not in use. This is known as an operating centre, and you need to own this place or have permission to park heavy goods vehicles or buses there. There can be more then one operating centre allocated for one Operator's Licence as long as they are located in the same traffic area. If operating centres are located in different traffic areas separate applications will be required. The operating centre needs to be approved by the Traffic Commissioner before it can be used. In order to get that approval the operator needs to place a public notice within 21 days of application in a local newspaper stating that they plan to use a given location as an operating centre and specify how many vehicles and trailers will be operated. This gives the general public an opportunity to object if they believe the activities of the operator will affect enjoyment of their land. It is very important to issue the public notice with correct wording and in the correct time-frame and as otherwise it won't be be accepted by the Traffic Commissioner. FAILURE TO DO THAT IS LIKELY TO RESULT IN REJECTION OF APPLICATION!

  • Vehicle maintenance facilities - vehicle operators are required to keep their vehicles in roadworthy condition and the Traffic Commissioner needs to be satisfied that this condition is met. In order to achieve this the operator needs to appoint a maintenance provider. This can be external workshop or internal qualified person. You will need to declare that proper maintenance facilities and written contract for it are in place. as this forms part of the application. The best way to achieve this is to ask local HGV garage for assistance and a quote for maintenance contract. The vehicles will need to be regularly inspected and records for those inspections kept on file in order for the Operator's Licence to remain compliant.

  • Transport Manager - Applicants for standard licences will need to demonstrate professional competence in road haulage. For this you will require the Transport Manager CPC qualification ( Certificate of Professional Competence). This is not the same as driver CPC so please do not confuse those two qualifications as driver CPC will not suffice for the Operator's Licence application. The Transport Manager CPC is obtained through examination or through acquired rights for people who have been in charge of fleets before the qualification was brought in. Restricted Licence operators are not required to engage Transport Manager/CPC holder. Business owner, director or employee can hold this qualification and therefore be named as the transport manager on the Operator's Licence. It is very important to remember that this person needs to exercise continuous and effective control over the drivers , vehicles and operation as the authority needs to go together with responsibility. This is not to be taken lightly as the person taking responsibility for the Operator's Licence accepts the responsibility for safe operation of the fleet. If the organisation does not employ a CPC holder and none of the owners or directors holds a CPC qualification the organisation can engage external Transport Manager. This option is very popular among small fleet operators where one person takes responsibility for the operator's licence and develops relationship with the company. Please note that some Transport Managers are only limited to national operations.

  • Previous licence history, convictions, bankruptcy or insolvency history - you will need to declare your previous history during the application as Traffic Commissioner needs to be assured that the licences are given to people with good repute

To sum up, you need:

  • Proof the financial standing

  • Parking facilities for your vehicles and place public notice advert in local newspaper

  • Maintenance facilities in place

  • Transport Manager for standard national and international licences

  • Check your and your business partners history for good repute


Application for the Operator's Licence is done online through Traffic Commissioners can click here to log in and start the process now.

The applications used to be made via post through GV79 form which is no longer available for internet download. If you wish to apply by post you need to contact Traffic Commissioners office and they may be able to send you the form. Paper application takes longer to process and it is much easier and quicker to apply online. Majority of correctly completed applications take seven weeks to process. There is also an opportunity to apply for Interim Licence which is the permission to operate before the full licence is granted. You must wait for the Interim Licence to be granted before starting to operate. It is important to remember that operating vehicles without a licence or before the licence is granted is illegal and is likely to trigger disciplinary action from Traffic Commissioner. Your application may be refused!

During the process of your application Traffic Commissioner will publish your application in Applications and Decisions or Notices and Proceedings for Bus operators. These are internet publications where all Traffic Commissioner's decisions are made available to general public. It allows general public or authorities to object if they believe you should not receive an Operator's Licence or the location you chose to park your vehicles is unsuitable. Should there not be any objections and you submitted required information that meets the requirements your licence will be granted! At that point you will have to pay the fee for your licence, add vehicles and make sure you keep on top of COMPLIANCE !

  • Application fee - £257 payable to TC at the point of application. Card payments taken with online application ( Non refundable)

  • Licence fee - £401 after the licence is granted. This must be paid every 5 years to renew your licence.

  • Public Notice - payable to the newspaper or their agent. This fee depends on the newspaper but it is normally in a region of £200 - £250

  • Interim application £68 you may choose to apply for interim permit which payable at the point of application


Our consultancy will help you with:

  • Understanding the application process and how to make it as quick as possible - save time

  • Take care of writing the public notice, finding correct publication and find you best price from the local newspapers

  • Ensuring the documents you submit are going to support your application and give it best possible chance

  • Peace of mind as we will monitor the progress of the application and will help you respond to letters from Traffic Commissioner

  • We will also help you set up compliance after the licence is granted. You will need this to manage the responsibility and make sure you don't loose the licence. We've got easy solutions to this!

Important links:


  • Apply For Operator's Licence online - link to application

  • Check if application was published in Applications and Decisions or PSV Notices and Proceedings

Keeping your operator's licence compliant must reads:

  • Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness

  • Driver's Hours Regulations

  • DVSA Guide to Load Security

  • DVSA Enforcement Sanctions Policy

  • Bridge Strike Prevention

  • Apply for company digital tacho card

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