Changes affecting the licence - Notifying the licencing authority within 28 days

Changes to a licence

Online operator licensing

You can visit the DVSA website to manage your operator licence. Whilst operators who so wish may continue to contact the traffic area offices by phone, letter or personal visit, the system gives them the additional option of carrying out transactions electronically by clicking on the ‘operator self-service’ link. Each operator is given a PIN and password, allowing access to otherwise restricted areas of the website and, via the internet, is able to administer their licence, including being able to add, remove and transfer vehicles; pay fees; and notify changes. 


From August 2022, Traffic Commissioners no longer accept paper applications for new licences and major variations to existing licences. Those making a new application should register to use the online system before they need to make their application. Those already operating should also register if they don’t already have an online account. All operators should now use the digital service to make major changes to their licence.

Licensing additional vehicles

Extra vehicles within the ‘margin’ can be brought into use at any time but the Traffic Commissioner must be informed within one month of the time when they come into the operator’s lawful possession. This can be done by using the online service. Additional vehicle fees are payable and new discs will be issued. If the licence does not provide for any extra vehicles, an application has to be made for a major variation online.

Substitution of vehicles

When a vehicle is replaced, the operator also has one month in which to inform the Commissioner, again using the VOL online system, and to return the disc of the vehicle to be replaced. A temporary substitution for less than a month requires no notification provided the licence has a margin. If the operator is running the total number of vehicles authorised, they can only temporarily substitute a vehicle for one off the road provided written notice is given to the Traffic Commissioner. The Commissioner must be told within 21 days if a vehicle ceases to be used. Again, the licence must be returned for amendment. However, under the VOL online system, this can be done online.

Transfer of vehicles

A vehicle can normally be transferred from one operating centre to another in the same traffic area without informing the Commissioner, provided the new centre is nominated on the licence. But if the transfer affected conditions placed on the new centre covering the number, type or size of vehicles, an application for a major variation of the licence would be needed

Transfers from an operating centre in one traffic area to an operating centre on a licence in another traffic area do not have to be specified in the new area for the first three months, provided the number of vehicles allowed on the licence is not increased. Thereafter, the vehicles would have to be covered by a licence in the new area. For this purpose, two or more successive periods not separated from each other by an interval of at least three months are treated as a single period equal to their total duration.

Change of type of licence

An operator wishing to change a restricted licence to a standard licence, or from a standard national to a standard international licence, must apply for a variation on the VOL online system. The Commissioner will need additional evidence that the applicant can meet the extra criteria that apply. No advertisement is required if no other changes to the licence are proposed, but the application will appear in Applications and Decisions. No fee is payable. 


  • Licence application fee – £257, which is non-refundable and payable for new and major variation applications. It must accompany the application. 

  • Licence issue fee – £401, payable for the issue of a new licence. It must be paid within 15 working days from the date of the licence grant. 

  • Licence continuation fee – £401, payable for the continuation of a licence. It must be paid before the end of the month preceding the end of the five year period 

It is important to note that failure to pay any demanded fees by the specified date now results in the licence grant ceasing to have effect or, in the case of fees payable at continuation stage, the licence terminating. There is no period of grace. 

Interim licence or direction fee – £68, payable for the issue of an interim licence or direction. It must be paid within 15 working days from the date of the issue of the licence or direction 

Disciplinary powers

Traffic Commissioners have wide-ranging powers to take action against a licence holder in circumstances which range from breach of conditions to failure to meet the specific standard  licence criteria. The Traffic Commissioner must revoke a standard licence if the holder no longer fulfils the requirements of good repute, financial standing or professional competence. However, if the nominated competent person leaves their employment, dies, becomes physically or mentally unfit or ceases to be of good repute, the Traffic Commissioner will allow up to 6 months for a replacement to be found. If the financial standing requirement is not met at the time of the five-yearly check, the Commissioner has discretion to allow a year’s grace if circumstances justify this action. There is no flexibility in relation to good repute – if the Commissioner decides that this has been lost revocation is automatic. A restricted licence must be revoked if, twice within five years, the holder is convicted of carrying goods that required a standard or standard international licence. 

Otherwise the Commissioner may decide to revoke, suspend or curtail a licence if: 

  • The licence holder has broken any conditions attached to the licence or undertakings recorded. 

  • Prohibitions have been issued to unroadworthy or overloaded vehicles. 

  • The licence holder has been convicted of any of the offences that are considered in deciding whether an applicant is a fit person. 

  • The application included false statements, or undertakings which have not been met. 

  • The licence holder has been made bankrupt or gone into liquidation. 

  • There has been a material change in any of the circumstances of the licence holder relevant to the licence (this can have a very wide-ranging application). 

  • An unauthorised operating centre has been used. 

Convictions of partners, directors, employees and agents will all be taken into account in this context. The Traffic Commissioner may also disqualify a person, partner or director from holding  an operator’s licence in any traffic area. The licence holder has a right to a public inquiry if the Commissioner proposes disciplinary action. An appeal against the decision can be made to the Transport Tribunal. If the Commissioner revokes, curtails or suspends a licence they may allow it to continue in force until the appeal is heard. If they refuse to do so, the operator can ask the Upper Tribunal to overrule the decision. Vehicles used without an operator’s licence can be impounded and disposed of. 

Summary of procedures

The Traffic Commissioner must be notified 

  • If additional vehicles are required to be authorised. 

  • Of the intention to replace any vehicle. 

  • If a vehicle is no longer operated. 

  • Of the temporary substitution of a vehicle for one off the road if there is no margin. 

  • Of intention to use a new operating centre in the same traffic area. 

  • Of intention to transfer a vehicle to an existing operating centre in a new traffic area for more than three months. 

  • Of any change in control of the business, its organisation or management, or persons holding shares in the company that causes a change in control of the company. 

  • Of any change in the business name or address. 

  • Of any change affecting the nominated professionally competent person.  

  • Of any event affecting the good repute or professional competence either of the standard licence holder or their nominated transport manager, or the financial standing of the licence holder.  

  • Following the death, bankruptcy or liquidation of the licence holder or the bankruptcy of any of the directors or partners. 

  • Of any changes affecting a company holding a licence involving the acquisition or disposal of subsidiaries. 

  • If an identity disc is lost, destroyed or defaced. 

  • Of any relevant conviction or accepted fixed penalty incurred. 

For more information on changes affecting your Operator licence or if you have any questions please contact the Member Advice Centre or call 0370 60 50 000.