Do I need an Operator’s Licence?

*NOTE: From December 4th 2011 ‘small trailers’ towed by a vehicle under 3.5 tonnes and used for hire or reward are no longer exempt from operator licensing. Therefore, if your vehicle combination is used for carrying other people’s goods for hire or reward (e.g. couriers and hauliers) and the maximum allowable weight of your vehicle and trailer together exceed 3,500kg then you need a standard O Licence.

An operator’s licence (‘O’ Licence) is needed if you use a goods vehicle (or a goods vehicle and trailer combination) with a total allowable weight of over 3.5 tonnes to carry goods in connection with any trade or business.

If towing a trailer the maximum plated weight (ie the maximum loaded weight) of both the trailer and the towing vehicle and the trailer must be taken into consideration EXCEPT in the case of trailers weighing up to 1020kg unladen.

What does that mean to a courier? Put simply you can drive any van up to 3500kg gvw (maximum loaded weight) without worrying about an O Licence. You can use the same vehicle to tow a trailer with an unladen weight of up to 1020kg (which would cover most small trailers normally towed by Sprinter etc vans) without worrying about an O Licence.

YOU NEED AN OPERATOR’S LICENCE EVEN IF YOU USE A VEHICLE ONLY FOR A SHORT PERIOD, 2 OR 3 WEEKS OR EVEN JUST ONE DAY.You also need to consider whether you need to have a tachograph fitted.

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