The different types of Operator Licence

There are different types of Operator Licence for Heavy Goods Vehicles and Passenger Carrying Vehicles, including a restricted operators licence.

Heavy Goods Vehicle Operator Licences

Restricted Operator Licence

A restricted operators licence only allows you to carry your own goods on your own account within Great Britain and the EU.

Standard National Operator Licence

A Standard National Licence allows you to carry your own goods on your own account, or other people’s goods for hire or reward, in Great Britain and to carry your own goods on your own account abroad. This will allow you to haul loaded trailers to or from ports within Great Britain as long as your vehicle does not actually leave Great Britain.

Standard International Operator Licence

A Standard International Licence allows you to carry your own goods, and goods for other people for hire or reward, both in Great Britain and on international journeys.

Passenger Carrying Vehicle Operator Licences

Standard Licence

National operations only

You can only operate in Great Britain if you apply for a standard licence. Most full-time commercial operators use standard licences.

Standard Licence

National and international operations

This kind of licence lets you take passengers abroad as well as within Great Britain.

Restricted Operators Licence

For small-scale operations

You can only apply for a restricted operator licence for small-scale operations. They allow you to use one or two vehicles, and neither can carry more than eight passengers.

You can carry up to 16 passengers in either vehicle if you do not use it as part of a passenger transport business, or you’re operating your vehicles as a sideline and not as your main job.

Restricted Operators Licence: what is it?

In summary, a Restricted Operators Licence (ROL) provides you with the right to carry your own goods not just in the UK but also across the European Union. What it does not provide, however, is the ability to carry goods that are not your own – that is where the “restricted” part comes into play. The Restricted Operators Licence was designed for those that only want to carry their own manufactured goods or hired equipment. Relatively speaking, it is easy to apply for compared to other licences. The downside is that you are prohibited from carrying the goods of others or anything you intend to hire or reward. If the latter point is an issue, it is recommended you instead apply for a Standard National Licence. A Standard International Licence is necessary for transporting goods – whether yours or others – abroad.

How do you qualify for a Restricted Operators Licence?

Before you apply for a Restricted Operators Licence, it is important you meet the following requirements:

  • Be fit to hold a Restricted Operators Licence
  • The ability to maintain your vehicles with suitable arrangements and facilities
  • Demonstrate you can run your business, including the maintenance of your vehicles, with sufficient resources and finances
  • The use of at least a single operating centre to safely store vehicles when not in use
  • The capability to ensure you obey all licensing laws and rules

Special Restricted Licence

For local taxi services

Special restricted licences are used to operate a licensed taxi on a local service. You can only apply for this licence if you’re a licensed taxi operator. A local service is one where:

The service must be registered with the local Traffic Commissioner.

Light Goods Vehicle Operator Licences

Standard International Operator Licence

A Standard International Licence allows you to carry your own goods, and goods for other people for hire or reward, both in Great Britain and on international journeys.

From 21 May 2022, operators or users of vans or other light goods vehicles over 2.5 tonnes and up to 3.5 tonnes in weight for hire and reward will need to obtain an International Operator's Licence.

Operator Licences in Northern Ireland

The Department for Infrastructure’s Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) is responsible for issuing Goods Vehicle Operator licences in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland applications follow the same process as the UK with only slight variations in the legislation of the Act. As the UK DVSA processes all the applications for Northern Ireland, Leafe’s Logistics can provide our complete licence application service for you.

FAQ For Operator Licences

Please note that the answers provided are general in nature, and it’s important to consult the specific licensing authority or regulatory body in your jurisdiction for accurate and up-to-date information regarding operator’s licenses.
What is an operator's license, and why do I need one?

An operator’s license is a legal document issued by the relevant governing authority that permits an individual or business to operate specific vehicles or machinery. It ensures compliance with regulations, safety standards, and competence requirements, and is necessary to legally conduct certain activities, such as driving commercial vehicles or operating heavy machinery.

How do I apply for an operator's license?

The process of applying for an operator’s license may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of license required. Generally, it involves completing an application form, providing relevant documentation (such as proof of identity, address, and any required certifications), paying the applicable fees, and possibly undergoing background checks or training. It is advisable to consult the local licensing authority or regulatory body for specific instructions.

What are the requirements to obtain an operator's licence?

The requirements for an operator’s license depend on the type of license and the jurisdiction. Common requirements may include minimum age limits, passing medical examinations to ensure physical fitness, demonstrating knowledge and proficiency through written and practical tests, completing specific training programs or courses, and providing necessary documentation (such as a valid driver’s license for certain vehicle operator licenses).

Can I transfer my operator's license from one jurisdiction to another?

Transferring an operator’s license from one jurisdiction to another is typically possible, but it often requires certain procedures. The specific requirements and processes for license transfer may vary depending on the jurisdictions involved. In some cases, you may need to provide evidence of your existing license, undergo additional assessments or tests, or meet other criteria. It is advisable to contact the relevant licensing authorities in both jurisdictions for guidance on the transfer process.

How long does an operator's license remain valid?

The validity period of an operator’s license can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of license. It is common for operator’s licenses to be issued for a specific duration, such as one to five years. To continue operating legally, license holders usually need to renew their licenses before they expire. Renewal requirements may include paying renewal fees, meeting any updated criteria or regulations, and fulfilling any additional obligations, such as refresher training or assessments.


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