You need a goods vehicle operator’s licence if your business uses goods vehicles above a certain weight.

The rules are different if you’re in Northern Ireland.

There are 3 different types of licence - what you need depends on the work you do.

You must also make sure that any drivers you use or employ have the correct licence and training. All vehicles that you use should be correctly taxed and kept safe and in good condition at all times.

Check if you need a licence

Whether you need a licence depends on:

  • the weight of your vehicle or your vehicle and trailer together
  • whether you are carrying goods for hire or reward in Europe

Some goods vehicles do not need an operator’s licence - read more about the exemptions.

Motor vehicles

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

  • a gross plated weight (the maximum weight that the vehicle can have at any one time) of over 3,500 kilograms (kg)
  • an unladen weight of more than 1,525 kg (where there is no plated weight)

Motor vehicles and trailers

You need a licence for a motor vehicle and trailer combination if:

  • the motor vehicle and the trailer(s) are plated and the total of their gross plated weights is more than 3,500 kg
  • the total unladen weight of the vehicle and trailer combination is more than 1,525 kg

You do not need an operator’s licence if your trailer’s unladen weight is less than 1,020 kg and you only carry your own goods.

Vehicles carrying goods for hire or reward in Europe

You’ll need a standard international licence if you’re carrying other people’s goods for hire or reward (such as working as a courier or freight transport business) in Europe when using:

  • vehicles that meet the weight limits for motor vehicles or motor vehicle and trailer combinations
  • vans with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) over 2,500 kg
  • vans towing a trailer with a gross train weight (GTW) over 2,500 kg
  • cars towing a trailer with a GTW over 2,500 kg

This applies in:

  • the EU
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

Find out more about the rules for transporting goods in Europe using cars or vans and trailers, and check if they affect you.