Operator licensing

This chapter covers the need and requirements for a restricted, standard or standard international operator licence. It also explains which vehicles are exempt, how to apply for or make changes to a licence, the Traffic Commissioner’s role in operator licensing and the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS).

Updates for 2022:

  • Changes to Operator Licensing for vehicles between 2.5t and 3.5t GVW.

Updates for 2021:

  • Updated understanding of the DVSA definition of own account and goods which are processed.
  • Added a new section on Earned Recognition.
  • Updated links and email addresses for DVSA.

Updates for 2020:

  • New definition of self-employed.
  • Removal of paper-based forms.

Information on the topics below is available to Logistics UK members by downloading the Operator licensing chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law

Download the Operator licensing chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law


  • Who needs a licence?

  • Vehicles affected.

  • Changes to operator licensing for international operators.

  • How many licences are necessary?

  • Operating centre.

  • Criteria for obtaining a licence.

    • Fitness to hold a licence.

    • Vehicle maintenance arrangements.

      • Driver walk around checks.

      • Periodic safety inspections.

      • Documented records.

    • Drivers’ hours, records, speeding and overloading.

    • Suitability of operating centre.

    • Financial resources.

    • Professional competence.

    • Transport managers.

    • Internal transport managers.

    • Transport managers responsible for more than 50 vehicles.

    • External transport managers.

    • Transport managers who are both internal and external.

    • Internal or external – who decides?

    • Good repute.

    • Most serious infringements (MSI).

    • Invalidation of TM CPC on loss of repute.

  • Applying for a licence.

    • Interim licences.

    • Authorised and specified vehicles and the margin.

    • Advertisement.

    • Environmental details.

    • Protection of operating centres.

      • Applications and decisions.

  • Applying for a major change to a licence.

  • Transfer of operating centres – schedule 4 procedure.

  • Objections and representations.

  • The licensing decision.

    • Public Inquiries.

    • Appeal against a decision.

  • Issue of the licence.

  • Undertakings and conditions.

    • Standard licence holders only.

  • Lead Traffic Commissioners.

  • The review procedure and periodic checks.

    • The decision to review.

    • The Traffic Commissioners’ powers at review.

  • Changes to a licence.

    • Online operator licensing.

    • Licensing additional vehicles.

    • Substitution of vehicles.

    • Transfer of vehicles.

    • Change of type of licence.

  • Fees.

    • Licence application fee.

    • Licence issue fee.

    • Licence continuation fee.

    • Interim licence or direction fee.

  • Disciplinary powers.

  • Summary of procedures.

  • Europe-wide data sharing.

  • OCRS.

    • What is the Operator Compliance Risk Score system?

    • The OCRS scores.

      • The roadworthiness score.

      • The traffic enforcement score.

      • How are the baseline scores calculated?

    • The OCRS bands.

    • Earned recognition.

    • Most Serious Infringements (MSIs).

    • How to find out about your scores.

Download the Operator licensing chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law


More information

View the Northern Ireland Operator Licensing - Logistics UK compliance guide

Need more information?

If you are an FTA member and have a query regarding this topic, or need more information, contact our Member Advice Centre

Member Advice Centre