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February 22, 2017 at 11:57 AM

While driving a commercial van subjects drivers to the same laws as other motorists, their licensing is a bit different. Before you put your commercial van drivers to work, ensure that they have proper licensing to operate specific vehicles.

Note that in the UK, a van carries the driver, maybe one passenger plus goods. Anything with more seating capacity than that falls into the category of minibuses and MPVs. Understanding the essential factors regarding van licencing will enable you to run your business without worrying about legal issues.


Weight Requirements

Commercial vans have different weight categories, and that is one aspect that determines the suitability of a license. Gross plated weight is the maximum that a vehicle can have at any given point. Unladen weight is when a vehicle is not carrying any goods or passengers. Maximum authorised mass refers to the total weight of the van or trailer plus its greatest load. An operator’s licence is needed if a commercial van has a gross plated weight of more than 3,500 kilogrammes or an unladen weight that exceeds 1,525 kg.

Types of Licences

Commercial van drivers can use one of the three permits issued in the UK. There is the standard licence that allows you to carry your own cargo in the UK and international destinations. You can also transport other people’s goods but in the UK only. The standard licence has different classes. With a Category B permit, you can drive a van of up to 3,500 kg MAM, and unless your permit was obtained before 1 January 1997, you need additional entitlements to drive anything heavier or tow a trailer behind your van. A Category C1 licence is for drivers who intend to operate a vehicle of up to 7,500 Kg, and if there is a trailer of more than 750 Kg being towed, then a Category C1+E is required.

For a company that conducts a lot of business beyond the UK borders, a standard international licence is an appropriate choice for van drivers. With this permit, operators can move their own cargo or other people’s goods in the UK and internationally. It is possible to get community licences, which allow drivers to journey between all EU countries. Then there is the restricted licence that lets you carry your own goods but not other people’s.

A van owner who only has a single vehicle for his/her small business can work with just the Category B or C licence. However, if you have a fleet of two or more, then an operator’s licence is necessary.

Obtaining a Licence

Apply for the proper permit in advance so that it can be processed before you start operating- nine weeks is the recommended period. For commercial van operators, you have to advertise your licence application and proposed operating centres. If those operating locations are in different traffic areas in Britain (there are 8), then each one will need a heavy goods operator’s licence. Find out about the accompanying fees and the different forms you need for the process. A van owner is required to have a maintenance contract with a garage for repairs and safety inspections. In the UK, all professional drivers have to take a routine medical exam, so learn about the right paperwork and authorised doctors. Drivers must also undergo adequate training before operating vans.

A van owner who is in a hurry to get a permit can apply for an interim licence. All vehicles should receive proper maintenance if you are to continue using your licence. Don’t let a van go for more than 15 months without inspections. Note that Northern Ireland may have a different set of rules and fees, so consider that if your business extends to that region.


Tags: van Laws and Regulations Licensing Transportation Blog
Category: The "Expert Advice"