Guidance

Changes to HGV and bus driving licences and tests from 15 November 2021

There will be changes to the way driving tests work for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and bus drivers from 15 November 2021. Find out how the changes affect you.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

Stay up to date

This page tells you about the changes to driving tests if you want to become a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or bus driver.

It will be updated when more details are available.

Sign up for email alerts when this page changes.

Some rules about learning to drive an HGV and bus or coach are going to change on 15 November 2021 (subject to Parliamentary approval). The changes affect:

  • what you’re allowed to learn to drive and take your driving test in
  • how the driving test works

What you can learn to drive and take your driving test in

Lorries

You currently have to learn to drive and pass a driving test in a large rigid lorry (category C) before you can learn to drive and take a test in a large articulated lorry (category CE).

The law is going to change so that you’ll be able to:

  • learn to drive in an articulated lorry when you get your first provisional lorry licence from 15 November 2021 (if you already have a provisional licence, you’ll need to take extra steps to upgrade your provisional licence)
  • take your test in a large articulated lorry without having to pass one in a large rigid lorry first

You’ll still be able to learn to drive and take a driving test in a large rigid lorry (category C) if you do not want to drive anything larger.

When you pass your test in a large articulated lorry, you’ll then be allowed to drive:

  • a medium-sized lorry (C1)
  • a medium-sized lorry towing a trailer (C1E)
  • a large rigid lorry (C)
  • a large articulated lorry (CE)

Medium-sized lorries

This change will also apply to medium-sized lorries towing a trailer (category C1E).

This means you’ll be able to learn to drive a medium-sized lorry towing a trailer (category C1E) and take your test in one, without having to pass a test in a medium-sized lorry (category C1) first.

When you pass your test in a medium-sized lorry towing a trailer, you’ll then be allowed to drive:

  • a medium-sized lorry (C1)
  • a medium-sized lorry towing a trailer (C1E)

Buses and coaches

You currently have to learn to drive and pass a driving test in a bus or coach (category D) before you can learn to drive and take a test in a bus or coach towing a trailer (category DE).

The law is going to change so that you’ll be able to:

  • learn to drive in a bus or coach towing a trailer when you get your first provisional bus licence from 15 November 2021 (if you already have a provisional licence, you’ll need to take extra steps to upgrade your provisional licence)
  • take your test in a bus or coach towing a trailer without having to pass one in just a bus or coach first

You’ll still be able to learn to drive and take a driving test in a bus or coach (category D) if you do not want to tow trailers.

When you pass your test in a bus or coach towing a trailer, you’ll then be allowed to drive:

  • a minibus (D1)
  • a minibus towing a trailer (D1E)
  • a bus or coach (D)
  • a bus or coach towing a trailer (DE)

Minibuses

This change will also apply to minibuses towing a trailer (category D1E).

This means you’ll be able to learn to drive a minibus towing a trailer (category D1E) and take your test in one, without having to pass a test in just a minibus (category D1) first.

When you pass your test in a minibus towing a trailer, you’ll then be allowed to drive:

  • a minibus (D1)
  • a minibus towing a trailer (D1E)

What you can do until the law changes

Until the law changes on 15 November 2021, you must continue to follow the current rules about what you’re allowed to drive when you’re a learner driver.

You can be fined up to £1,000, be banned from driving and get up to 6 penalty points on your driving licence if you drive a vehicle that’s not on your driving licence.

What you need to do about your provisional licence

The changes mean that you’ll get extra provisional categories when you apply for your provisional licence for an HGV or bus.

What you need to do depends on when DVLA processes your application for a provisional licence.

If you already have a provisional vocational licence or if DVLA processes your application before 15 November

Your provisional licence will not be automatically upgraded to allow you tow if either:

  • you already have a provisional licence
  • DVLA processes your application for a provisional licence before 15 November

You will need to apply to DVLA from 15 November to get your provisional licence upgraded so you can take a trailer test without first taking a rigid test.

If DVLA processes your first provisional vocational licence from 15 November

If DVLA processes your first provisional vocational licence from 15 November you’ll automatically be allowed to tow a trailer as a provisional licence holder.

Changes to the Driver CPC part 3 (driving ability) test

The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) part 3 (driving ability) test is 1 of the 4 tests you have to pass to drive a lorry or bus for a living.

The test is going to be split into 2 parts from 15 November 2021:

  • Driver CPC part 3a (off-road exercises) test
  • Driver CPC part 3b (on-road driving) test

Until the rules change, you need to continue following the existing rules about learning to drive an HGV or bus.

Driver CPC part 3a (off-road exercises) test

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will allow training organisations to carry out the Driver CPC part 3a test.

The person who trains you will not be allowed to carry out your Driver CPC part 3a test - it will need to be another trainer.

The off-road exercises will still include:

  • an ‘S’ shaped reverse into a bay
  • showing the uncoupling and recoupling procedure if you’re taking a test with a trailer

The test will still be assessed to the same standard.

You will need to pass the Driver CPC part 3a test before you can take the Driver CPC part 3b test.

Driver CPC part 3b (on-road driving) test

DVSA will continue to provide the Driver CPC part 3b test.

The test will still include:

  • vehicle safety questions (known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions)
  • practical on-road driving

The driving test appointment time will reduce slightly because the off-road exercises will have already been tested.

Published 17 September 2021
Last updated 19 October 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated to confirm that the rules will change on 15 November 2021, subject to Parliamentary approval. Added information about what you need to do about your provisional licence.

  2. First published.