O-licence responsibilities and the CPC

Commercial Motor
December 16, 2006

What standards must I meet to get an O-licence?

O-licence applicants must sign a declaration confirming they will comply with certain obligations to be given an O-licence and must continue to maintain standards to keep an O-licence once they have it.These include being a fit person to hold a licence; making proper maintenance arrangements for vehicles; controlling drivers’ hours, records and loading; running a suitable depot (known as the operating centre); having adequate financial resources and, for standard national and international licences, possessing the necessary professional competence qualifications. For full details see the Goods Vehicle Operator Licensing guide for operators.

Are the requirements the same for all types of O-licence?

No, there are more regulations for national and international licence holders than there are for restricted licence holders. National and international licence holders must show that they are of good repute, meet professional competence requirements and satisfy more rigorous financial criteria. However, in reality the traffic commissioner (TC) will generally want to see a certain standard of operation and understanding of the rules regardless of the type of licence held.

How are fitness and good repute decided?

For fitness to hold a licence, which applies to all licence applicants, TCs will look at any previous vehicle-related convictions: these include defective vehicle offences, drivers' hours breaches, speeding and other motoring offences, overloading or any convictions relating to vehicle testing or plating.

In deciding good repute, which applies to all standard licence applicants but not to those applying for restricted licences, all the offences above – as well as any other convictions in the UK or abroad – are considered by the TCs. It is a legal requirement to declare all convictions to your TC within 28 days of the date of conviction.

What are the vehicle maintenance requirements?

Vehicle maintenance is one of the main objectives of the operator licensing system.

You must keep your vehicles roadworthy and if you do not do the maintenance yourself the TC will want to see a written agreement with the garage that does your maintenance. For further details see the DVSA's Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness.

Is there any way of finding out how compliant I am compared with other operators?

In addition it is also possible to obtain the operator’s Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS). OCRS is calculated using two methods which give a historic or predictive score. Historic data includes annual test data, roadside inspections, fleet check inspections and prosecution history. Predictive scores are only used if no historic data exists and is therefore based on the type of operator licence, age of operator licence and size of fleet. The idea is that DVSA use the system at the roadside to identify which vehicles should be checked. Those with the worst scores will be targeted by DVSA as they are more likely to be non-compliant.

To obtain their OCRS, operators should register with their operator licence number, business name, address and email as well as a name and confirmation that they are authorised to receive the information on the DVSA website. There are 4 types of report available which the operator can request to have sent to them on a quarterly basis. The 4 types of report are OCRS, Vehicle Test Maintenance Statement relating to test failure items, Vehicle Encounter Report including roadside and fleet checks, National Vehicle Defects Report stating the percentage failure rate for all defect items. Receiving these reports is obviously an excellent way to monitor your compliance compared with operators.

What are the financial requirements?

For all licences, you will need to show that you have enough money readily available to keep your vehicles fit for the road. This is known as having financial standing. You will also need to declare any recent financial difficulties, such as bankruptcy, liquidation, insolvency or any disqualification in business.

Requirements for standard national and international licences are again more rigorous than for restricted licences. At present (as of 1 January 2016) a standard national or international operator is required to show £6650 for the first vehicle and £3700 for any additional vehicles. A restricted operator is only required to demonstrate that £3100 is available for the first vehicle and £1700 is available for each additional vehicle. It is the number of vehicles you are authorised for rather than the number of vehicles in possession which is used for the calculation. Full details are again available on the DVSA website.

Do I need a professional qualification?

If you want a standard national or international licence you probably will. The main way of establishing competence is passing the Certificate of Professional Competence Exam (CPC). However there are two alternatives: one is another of the recognised qualifications, and the other is if you have “grandfather rights”, for which you will need to have been in operation before 1 January 1975. If you do not already hold a grandfather rights certificate you cannot now claim one.

If you are running on a restricted licence, then no qualification is required. It is however advisable to read up on your obligations, to consider enrolling on a course and to attend a few seminars to ensure you understand what is required of you.


Updated by Lucy Wood & Anton Balkitis
Freephone: 0800 046 3066

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Commercial Motor

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