What is an Operator Licence and who needs one?

Understanding Operator Licence Compliance

What is an Operator Licence?

An Operator Licence, also known as an O Licence, is a legal requirement if your business uses goods vehicles above a certain weight and is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) on behalf of the traffic commissioners.

The main purpose of vehicle operator licensing is to ensure the safe and proper use of goods vehicles and to protect the environment around operating centres.

You must make sure that any drivers you use or employ have the correct licence and training and that all vehicles that you use are correctly taxed and kept safe and in good condition at all times. The DVSA carries out regular roadside vehicle checks and checks on operating centres and your licence could be taken away, suspended or restricted if you do not meet the required standards.

Heavy goods vehicles on motorway needing an operator licence

Who needs an Operator Licence?

You need a vehicle Operator Licence if your business uses Heavy Goods Vehicles and/or Passenger Vehicles above a certain weight or capacity on public roads for trade or business purposes.

Heavy Goods Vehicles

You need an Operator Licence to carry goods in a lorry, van or other vehicle with either:

Passenger Vehicles
Light Goods Vehicles

You need an Operator Licence to carry goods in Europe in vans or cars and trailers as follows:


There are several categories of vehicle which do not need an Operator Licence, these include: