In order to operate vehicles over 3.5T, you will need an Operator’s Licence. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is the executive agency for the Department for Transport and they are responsible for regulating goods vehicle operators, (among other things).
Of the two types of Standard Operator’s Licence, you will need to decide if you want National Only or National and International.
Your application should be made at least 9 weeks before you intend to start operating and you will need an operating centre and a transport manager.
The Operating Centre is where your vehicles will be parked when not in use. There are several things to consider when choosing an Operating Centre, not least the impact on the local environment. The Traffic Commissioner will ultimately decide whether your chosen site is suitable but local residents can also have their say.
It is usually a good idea to consider sharing a yard with another operator, at the site of an established operator’s centre.
Proposed Operating Centres must be advertised in the local press to give locals the opportunity to oppose the application on environmental grounds. The advertisement must appear at least once within the period running from 21 days before to 21 days after you make your application.
To obtain an Operator’s Licence, you will need a transport manager with a Certificate of Professional Competence, (CPC) following examinations set by the Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts Examinations Board (OCR).
The transport manager may be either internal, (an employee or Director) or external, (a person contracted to provide the service).
If the transport manager is external, they must be more than transport manager by name alone. They must assume the responsibilities required of the title, even if they delegate some or all of the work. The transport manager retains legal responsibility regardless of whether his or her activities are delegated.
In all cases, the transport manager must be qualified and of good repute.
There are an acceptable number of hours that a transport manager should work, which is based on the number of vehicles. However, the Traffic Commissioner may make allowances and a decision on suitability can be influenced by a variety of factors.
The acceptable hours are as follows;
2 or less vehicles – 8 hours per week
3 to 5 vehicles – 15 hours per week
6 to 10 vehicles – 20 hours per week
External transport managers are limited to a combined total of 50 vehicles and 4 operators.
Tip: To save time in the future, it is wise to apply for a licence that covers more vehicles than you currently run. This will allow you to increase your fleet without having to wait for the amendment to take effect.