Guidance

Check if you need Driver CPC to drive a lorry, bus or coach

Find out if you need the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification to drive a lorry, bus or coach, or if you could be exempt.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

You must have Driver CPC if you drive a lorry, bus or coach as the main part of your job. You must do 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to keep it.

You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving professionally without Driver CPC.

Exemptions from needing Driver CPC

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re using the vehicle for:

  • non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods
  • carrying material or equipment you use for your job, as long as driving is less than 30% of your rolling monthly work
  • driving for someone you work for, or your own agriculture, horticulture, forestry, farming or fisheries business, as long as driving is less than 30% of your rolling monthly work
  • driving within 62 miles (100 kilometres) of your base - but the vehicle cannot be carrying passengers or goods, and driving a lorry, bus or coach cannot be your main job
  • driving to or from pre-booked appointments at official vehicle testing centres
  • driving lessons for anyone who wants to get a driving licence or a Driver CPC
  • maintaining public order - and the vehicle is being used or controlled by a local authority
  • rescue missions or in states of emergency

You also do not need Driver CPC if the vehicle is:

  • is being road tested for repair, maintenance or technical development purposes
  • either new or rebuilt and has not yet been taxed
  • being used or controlled by the armed forces, police, fire and rescue service, emergency ambulance service, prison service or people running a prison or young offender institution
  • limited to a top speed of 28mph

About the examples in this guide

These examples tell you if the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency thinks you need Driver CPC. However, only a court can make a decision on Driver CPC rules.

Get legal advice if you’re not sure if you need Driver CPC.

Non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re driving vehicles carrying goods, materials or passengers on a non-commercial basis. Examples of journeys that the term “non-commercial” can be applied to include the following situations:

  • the driver makes the journey for their own purposes eg in connection with a hobby and not to earn income. If there is a financial contribution towards that hobby, such as sponsorship, then the contribution does not exceed the total cost of the hobby
  • no payment is made, either to the operator or the driver, for carriage per se
  • any financial contributions made does not exceed the running costs of the vehicle for that journey (eg contributions towards the fuel costs)

If you or your organisation are required to hold a PSV Operator’s Licence then the vehicles are being using for commercial carriage of passengers and it’s likely that you or your drivers will need to hold a Driver CPC for the journeys the PSV Operator’s Licence is necessary for.

Example 1: self-drive lorry to move home A lorry driver hires a self-drive lorry to move home. As this is a private journey transporting their own belongings, they do not need:

  • an operator licence
  • Driver CPC

Example 2: transporting something as a favour A lorry owner-operator transports a friend’s new boat from the manufacturer to a holiday home. As they do this as a favour and do not charge a fee they do not need:

  • an operator licence
  • Driver CPC

They would need to prove to any enforcement staff that their journey was non-commercial if they were stopped.

Example 3: pigeon racing club transporting pigeons itself A racing pigeon club runs vehicles as a part of its activities. Club members contribute to the costs of the vehicles from annual membership subscriptions.

Although the members are making a financial contribution, this is only to cover the activities of the club.

As the club is run on a not-for-profit basis they do not need:

  • an operator licence
  • Driver CPC

Example 4: pigeon racing club using someone else to transport pigeons

A racing pigeon club uses hauliers or another pigeon racing club to transport its pigeons in return for payment. The club members contribute to the costs of the transport from annual membership subscriptions.

Even if the club is run on a not-for-profit basis, the haulier or other pigeon racing club transporting the pigeons would need:

  • an operator licence
  • Driver CPC

Carrying material or equipment for use in your work

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re carrying equipment or material that you use in the course of your work. This is because your main activity is not driving. The driving should be less than 30% of your rolling monthly working time.

Example 1: mobile lorry fitter

A driver is a mobile lorry fitter. They drive a vehicle from an operator’s site to another site where they take their tools from the vehicle to do their main activity of servicing lorries.

They do not need Driver CPC.

If they use an engine diagnostic kit that’s fixed within the vehicle, they still do not need Driver CPC. This is because the vehicle is carrying material or equipment for their use on-site.

Example 2: self-employed bricklayer A self-employed bricklayer drives their lorry to a building site with a load of bricks. They unload the bricks and use them in the construction of a house.

They do not need Driver CPC. This is because driving the lorry is not their main activity and they’re carrying materials for their use in the course of bricklaying.

Example 3: power generator fixed to the bed of a vehicle A driver drives a lorry with a power generator fixed to the bed of the vehicle, but driving is not their main activity. They drive to road maintenance sites where the generator is used to power site equipment. They do various tasks at the site, including monitoring the generator to make sure it’s working correctly.

They do not need Driver CPC.

Example 4: delivering car parts to retail outlets A driver works in a car parts supply company’s stores department. Occasionally, they need to drive one of the company’s lorries to deliver parts to retail outlets.

They need Driver CPC, even though the driving takes up a small amount of their working time. This is because it’s carrying materials for someone else’s use.

Example 5: auctioneer transporting furniture for auction An employee of an auctioneer transports some furniture to sell at an auction house around once a month.

They need Driver CPC as they are transporting goods as a commercial activity.

Example 6: contractor driving a lorry to repair fences around a town centre A contractor drives a lorry on public roads around a town centre periodically to repair fences. The vehicle carries the tools and materials they need to make these repairs.

They do not need Driver CPC, as they’re carrying materials to be used by them in the course of their work repairing fences.

Example 7: employee transporting colleagues An employee of a firm based on an out-of-town industrial estate drives a minibus (with a D1 driving licence) twice a day to take colleagues from the local town to and from their place of work.

Most of their time is spent working on the firm’s premises and the driving takes up a small part of their day.

They need Driver CPC, as they’re transporting other employees, not carrying materials or equipment.

Example 8: mobile crane operator A mobile crane operator drives the vehicle with the crane to a building site, where they operate the crane to help build a new factory.

They do not need Driver CPC because their main activity is not driving. The driving should be less than 30% of the rolling monthly working time.

They’re carrying tools and materials (the crane) to be used in the course of their work.

Example 9: mechanic driving a lorry with tools and equipment A mechanic employed by a transport company drives a lorry all day (over 30% of their working time) containing tools and equipment they need to change wheels at the roadside.

They do need Driver CPC because their main activity is driving. The driving should be less than 30% of the rolling monthly working time.

Example 10: maintenance worker driving a lorry with tools and equipment A maintenance worker drives a lorry containing tools and equipment to buildings where they will work for a full day maintaining plant and other building services.

The driver’s main activity is as a maintenance worker, not as a driver.

They do not need Driver CPC as long as they’re not driving for more than 30% of their rolling monthly working time.

Vehicles used by an agricultural, horticultural, forestry, farming or fishery business

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re driving for someone you work for, or your own agriculture, horticulture, forestry, farming or fisheries business, as long as driving is less than 30% of your rolling monthly work.

Example 1: transporting farm labourers around a farm A driver has a category D1 driving licence and drives a minibus (category D1) with a ‘101 - not for hire or reward’ driving licence code.

The driver is employed by the farm and transports the farm’s own labourers between fields, using public roads.

They need Driver CPC as the driver is not transporting goods.

Example 2: farm labourer transporting livestock and crops A farm labourer drives a lorry on public roads around a farm to transport livestock and crops for the farmer’s business. They spend less than 30% of their time driving.

They do not need Driver CPC, as they’re driving a vehicle used by the farm business for less than 30% of their rolling monthly working time.

Example 3: fisheries employee transporting fish A fisheries employee drives a small lorry to a harbour to collect the fish caught that day, and transport them to a refrigeration unit. They spend less than 30% of their time driving.

They do not need Driver CPC, as they’re carrying goods for the fishery business they work for, for less than 30% of their rolling monthly working time

Example 4: park ranger employed to maintain woodland A park ranger drives a small lorry, operated by their employer’s business, to an area of countryside to maintain some woodland. They carry equipment for use in this work.

They do not need Driver CPC, as they are carrying equipment for use in their work.

Empty vehicles within 62 miles of your base if driving is not your main job

You do not need Driver CPC if you meet all of these conditions:

  • your main work activity is not driving lorries, buses or coaches
  • the vehicle is being driven within a 62 mile (100km) radius of your base
  • you’re the only person in the vehicle
  • the vehicle is empty, except for equipment (including machinery) permanently fixed to it

Example 1: mechanic moving empty buses between depots A mechanic employed by a local bus company moves empty buses between depots in the local area.

They do not need Driver CPC, as driving is not their main activity (as long as they spend less than 30% of their rolling monthly working time driving), and they’re not carrying any passengers.

Example 2: workshop manager occasionally delivering empty trailers A workshop manager for a road haulier occasionally provides driving cover, delivering empty trailers to depots across the country.

They need Driver CPC, even though driving is not their main activity. They are not carrying goods and are not driving for an exempted occupation.

Example 3: a valet who collects and delivers from customers A valet (a person who parks and cleans vehicles) employed by a vehicle hire company starts work at their employer’s premises. As part of their duties, they deliver to and collect from customers in the local area.

They do not need Driver CPC. This is because they do not drive more than 62 miles (100km) from their employers’ base, and driving is not their main activity.

Example 4: a mechanic who occasionally drives lorries A mechanic occasionally drives lorries as part of their work.

They do not need Driver CPC for journeys within a 62 mile (100km) radius of their ‘driver’s base’, as long as the lorry is not carrying goods. The ‘driver’s base’ is the place they start work on that particular day - it’s not restricted to one place.

The mechanic’s period on duty will start when they begin work after at least 9 hours off-duty - whether that’s at home, at work, or at a customer’s address. That address will continue to be their ‘driver’s base’ until they’re off-duty for at least 9 hours.

Pre-booked vehicle tests

You do not need Driver CPC to drive vehicles to and from pre-booked appointments at official testing centres. The vehicle can only carry a load if it’s needed for a laden braking test.

Example A driver is employed as a mechanic by a bus operator. They drive empty vehicles that they’ve prepared to an authorised testing facility for a pre-booked MOT.

They do not need Driver CPC.

Driving lessons or driving tests

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re driving a vehicle to prepare for or take:

  • a driving licence acquisition test
  • Driver CPC tests

Example 1: learning to drive a coach A driver is taking driving lessons in a coach, to prepare for a category D licence acquisition test.

They do not need Driver CPC.

Example 2: lorry driving instructor A lorry driving instructor sometimes drives a lorry to show a particular technique to their trainees.

They do not need Driver CPC, as this is happening during a driving lesson.

Road-testing, and new or rebuilt vehicles not in service

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re road-testing vehicles for:

  • repair or maintenance purposes
  • technical development purposes

You also do not need Driver CPC if the vehicle being driven is either new or rebuilt and has not yet been taxed.

You can have someone else in the vehicle to help you carry out the checks if you cannot safely operate the diagnostic equipment while you’re driving.

Example 1: coach chassis manufacturer A driver works for a company that manufactures coach chassis.

They do not need Driver CPC when they drive the chassis to another location so that a coach body can be built on it.

Example 2: delivering new cars on a car transporter A driver is employed to drive a car transporter delivering new cars (which have not yet been put into service) to garage forecourts.

They need Driver CPC, as the vehicle they’re driving (the transporter) has been put into service.

Example 3: delivering newly-registered and taxed lorries A driver delivers newly-registered and taxed lorries to customers after they’ve been painted in the customer’s livery.

They need Driver CPC, as vehicles count as being ‘put into service’ once they’re taxed.

Armed forces, emergency services, local councils and prison services

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re driving a vehicle used by or under the control of:

  • the armed forces
  • the police
  • a public fire and rescue service
  • an emergency ambulance service
  • a local authority in an emergency civil protection situation
  • the prison service
  • a company providing or running a prison or young offender institution

You can only use this exemption if you’re driving the vehicle in the course of a task being undertaken by that service.

Example 1: fire and rescue service A driver is employed by the local fire and rescue service.

They do not need Driver CPC to drive its vehicles.

However, if they work on a casual basis for a lorry or bus operator, they’ll probably need Driver CPC for that work.

Example 2: Passenger transport ambulance under contract to NHS A driver is employed to drive a passenger transport ambulance that is under contract to the NHS.

They need Driver CPC to drive this vehicle as it’s being used for passenger transport and is not an emergency service.

Vehicles not allowed to exceed 28 miles per hour

You do not need Driver CPC if the vehicle is not allowed to exceed 28 miles per hour (45 kilometres per hour (km/h)) on any road.

Example A driver works for a city bus company. Its buses are fitted with speed limiters to stop them from exceeding 40km/h.

They need Driver CPC. This is because the law allows the bus to be driven at more than 45km/h, even though it’s been limited to 40km/h.

EU and Swiss nationals and people employed by a company based in the EU or Switzerland

You need Driver CPC if you drive a lorry, minibus, bus or coach and you’re either:

  • a national of any EU country or Switzerland
  • a national of a country outside the EU or Switzerland, but work for an organisation based in the EU or Switzerland

Example 1: an EU national working in the EU A Dutch national (the Netherlands is in the EU) drives a lorry in the EU.

They need Driver CPC.

Example 2: a non-EU national working for an EU company A Turkish national (Turkey is not in the EU) works for an Austrian coach operator (Austria is in the EU). They drive in the EU.

They need Driver CPC.

Example 3: an EU national working for a non-EU company A Polish national (Poland is in the EU) works for a Russian tour operator (Russia is not in the EU). They only drive coaches in Russia.

They do not need Driver CPC.

If their employer starts running tours from Russia into the EU, they will need Driver CPC, because they’re an EU national.

Example 4: a non-EU national working for a non-EU company A Turkish national (Turkey is not in the EU) works for a Turkish haulage company.

They do not need Driver CPC, even when they drive into the EU.

Example 5: a Swiss national working in the EU A Swiss national (the UK recognises Swiss Driver CPC) drives a lorry in the EU.

They need Driver CPC.

Emergencies or rescue missions

You do not need Driver CPC if you’re driving a vehicle as part of:

  • an official response to a state of emergency
  • an officially-recognised rescue mission
  • non-commercial transport of humanitarian aid

Example 1: a self-employed lorry driver contracted to the local council A self-employed lorry driver is contracted to deliver goods to the local council’s road maintenance depots.

They need Driver CPC.

Example 2: a self-employed lorry driver contracted to the local council is asked to respond to an emergency During severe flooding, the government declares a state of emergency. The driver is asked by the local council to help by delivering sandbags to prevent a river from bursting its banks.

They do not need Driver CPC to do this.

Example 3: a council worker who does not usually drive lorries is asked to respond to an emergency A driver does not usually drive lorries, as they work in the local council’s planning department. They’re told to deliver sandbags during the state of emergency.

They do not need Driver CPC, but will need the correct driving licence to drive a lorry.

Published 7 May 2013
Last updated 24 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated due to legislation change.

  2. Clarified the wording of the exemption for vehicles carrying material or equipment to be used in the course of the driver’s work.

  3. Updated the examples, with vehicles driven within 50 km of the driver’s base and not carrying passengers or goods being increased to 100 km, and vehicles used by or under the control of the prison service being added.

  4. Updated the examples following new exemptions coming into force on 13 November 2013.

  5. Added information about vehicles driven to and from pre-booked appointments at official testing centres and vehicles driven within 50 km of the driver’s base and not carrying passengers or goods.

  6. Added the specific examples of Driver CPC exemptions with a note that some are being rerviewed by the Driving Standards Agency.

  7. Removed the specific examples of Driver CPC exemptions as they are being reviewed by the Driving Standards Agency.

  8. First published.