The operating centre is the term used in the regulations to describe the location of where the vehicle or vehicles are parked when not in use. The Traffic Commissioner will need to be satisfied that your operating centre(s) are suitable – for example, that they will be big enough, with safe access, and in an environmentally acceptable location. If you do not own the operating centre you may be asked to provide evidence that you are entitled to use it.
The best way to find an operating centre is through the Traffic Commissioner’s Operator Search website here. Search for transport companies by “Town name(s)” in which you’d like to base your company (pick a town that has a good number of industrial estates). Then, look up the addresses of their operating centres. Contact them or the yard owners and ask if you can use their yard as your operating centre.
Video: How to Find an HGV Operating Centre for Your Operator’s Licence
Other websites where you can search for or post a wanted ad for an operating centre:
The following are current fees payable to the Traffic Commissioner:
- £257 – new O-Licence application (GV79) or a publishable variation to the existing licence (GV81):
- (optional) £68 – interim licence
More details are available here.
An ‘O’ licence must be obtained in each Traffic Are in which there is an operating centre. UK legislation defines an operating centre as the base or centre where the vehicle is normally kept. “Normally kept” means the place where the vehicle is usually parked when not in use. This might not always be the same as the transport company’s depot, as often vehicles are regularly parked at a customer’s premises or even at the driver’s house. In such cases then the customer’s premises or the driver’s house would constitute the operating centre and details must be included on the ‘O’ licence application.
An operator can only hold one ‘O’ licence in each Traffic Areas.
If an operator has operating centres in several different locations within the same Traffic Area, then only one ‘O’ licence will be required. Alternatively, if there are several operating centres each in different Traffic Areas, then a separate ‘O’ licence to cover vehicles in each Traffic Area will be necessary. Organisations holding existing ‘O’ licences or wishing to apply for ‘O’ licences in more than one Traffic Area can be allocated a Lead Traffic Commissioner who will deal with all application and compliance issues.
‘O’ licensing is the responsibility of the Department for Transport (DfT). The UK is dividend into eight Traffic Areas and each of the areas is looked after by a Traffic Commissioner. Initially each Traffic Area had its own Commissioner and Traffic Area Office but, in an attempt to reduce costs, some Commissioners now look after two areas. The eight current Traffic Areas are:
- North Western
- North Eastern
- West Midlands
- South Eastern and Metropolitan
Much of the basic administration of ‘O’ licensing is conducted on behalf of the Traffic Commissioners by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Central Licensing Office (CLO) based in Leeds.
Although a licence application must be made at least nine weeks before the chosen operative date, it is possible, in some circumstances, for the Traffic Commissioner to issue an interim licence. Following submission of the GV79, applicants may complete a separate form INT1 to indicate the need for an interim licence and giving reasons why the issue of an interim is being requested. The Traffic Commissioner may grant the interim licence which is subject to a special fee. The interim licence will remain in force until the full application is considered. It is important to remember that the issue of an interim licence is no guarantee a full licence will subsequently be issued.
The form INT1 to apply for an interim licence can be downloaded from here.
The current fee for an interim licence is £68.
- driver cards to be downloaded at least every 28 days
- lost driver cards to be reported to DVLA within 7 days
- maximum days of driving without a replacement driver card = 15 calendar days; in other words, if driver has forgotten his card at home – he can’t drive without it; if he’s lost it – he can drive for 15 days until he gets a replacement.
- drivers must take VU printouts at the beginning and end of each day when their driver card is lost or stolen
- VU data to be downloaded at least every 90 days
- digital tachographs must be fully recalibrated every 2 years
- all downloaded data must be kept for at least 1 year
On the GV79 the applicant must state the number of vehicles and trailers (including semi-trailers) he wishes to specify on the licence. Most applicants apply for authorisation for more vehicles and trailers than they currently have in their possession. This is to allow scope for expansion of the business and to meet day to day operational problems such as breakdowns. This provision for vehicles and trailers to be acquired is known as the “margin” on the licence. There’s no limit to the number of vehicles that the applicant can ask for as a margin. However, this does not mean that the Traffic Commissioner will automatically grant all that is required, particularly as the Commissioner has to be convinced that the applicant has both sufficient off street parking and sufficient financial resources to facilitate safe and legal operation of the additional vehicles.
In the follow up posts I will describe each of the requirements in more details but for now, here’s the summary.
Requirements for all O-licences:
- Applicant must be a “fit and proper person”
- Vehicle maintenance arrangements
- Operating centre
- Legal undertakings
Additional requirements for Standard O-licences:
- Good repute
- Financial standing
- Transport Manager who is a CPC holder
This type of licence is the one required for organisations which only carry own goods in the course of their business. The rules allow a little flexibility in that restricted licence holders are not limited to just carrying goods that they might have produced themselves. They may also bring in their own raw materials for processing and vehicles belonging to a holding company may carry the goods of a subsidiary company (and vice versa). A restricted licence will allow the carriage of such “own account” goods both within the UK and abroad
This licence allows the carriage of goods for hire and reward in the UK. Even if goods are only occasionally carried for hire and reward, a standard licence will be required.
A standard international licence allows the carriage of goods for hire and reward both nationally and internationally.
Operator licensing is necessary for the operator of any goods vehicles over 3.5 tonne GVW which are used in connection with a trade or business. The types of business entity – solo trader, partnership, limited company etc – is irrelevant; all businesses using goods vehicles are subject. Neither does it matter what the business is; almost all commercial activity necessitating the use of goods vehicles is covered, from supermarkets to builders, road hauliers to oil companies. Operator licensing still applies even when the operation of goods vehicles is incidental to the main business activity. Only people using goods vehicles entirely for private purposes are excluded.