DVSA earned recognition: become an authorised audit provider

How to apply to become an authorised audit provider for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) earned recognition scheme.

What is DVSA earned recognition

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) earned recognition is a new way for vehicle operators to prove they meet driver and vehicle standards.

This means that they’re:

  • continuously monitoring their own compliance
  • using DVSA-validated IT systems
  • compliant with road safety standards

It’s a voluntary scheme for operators of all sizes.

How it works

Diagram of how earned recognition works

IT systems

Operators need to have digital monitoring systems for vehicle maintenance and drivers’ hours. These check if they’re meeting a set of key performance indicators (KPIs).

Every 4 weeks, these systems tell DVSA if they’ve missed any of the KPIs by a set amount. If this happens, DVSA will work with them to fix any problems.

DVSA will not have direct access to any of their data or systems.


Operators need to have an audit of their systems and processes by a DVSA-authorised audit provider:

  • when their application to join the scheme has been reviewed
  • every 2 years after that

If a concession’s been granted, they’ll need an audit covering the appropriate section every year, up to April 2021.

Apply to become an authorised audit provider


You’ll need to meet the criteria stated in the:

DVSA will authorise either an individual or organisation to carry out auditing on their behalf.

You’ll need to show:

  • high standards of professionalism
  • expert knowledge of transport, and operator licensing
  • that you have certain qualifications and competencies

You must also either:

  • have a recognised quality management system in place, such as ISO 9001
  • be able to show that you’re working towards a management system - which must be in place within 12 months of authorisation

The application process

DVSA earned recognition audit provider authorisation process (PDF, 92.4KB, 1 page)

To become a DVSA authorised audit provider, you’ll first need to fill out the Application form (PDF, 616KB, 6 pages)

You must:

  • complete the application in full
  • include a portfolio of evidence showing that you’ve met the standards and criteria detailed in the code of practise and the terms and conditions

Any missing information will mean the application is delayed or rejected.

Portfolio of evidence

The portfolio must include:

  • copies of all the required training certificates
  • quality management certification or evidence you’re working towards it

It must also include the:

  • audit standards
  • audit report
  • complaints procedure documentation

You also need to show that your audit document is aligned across all the:

  • compliance modules
  • performance criteria
  • assessment requirements

You should provide evidence of the recruitment and monitoring process for auditors working on your behalf, including:

  • management of certificate of professional competence (CPC)
  • updated qualifications
  • details of relevant two years’ experience

Remember to include:

  • an example of the contract you ask operators to sign
  • a copy your complaints procedure for DVSA earned recognition operators

Audit standards

Your application and portfolio of evidence must show that the audit standards proposed by you meet the:

This is to make sure DVSA earned recognition standards are applied consistently.

Third-party audit standards may be wider than earned recognition. It must be clear from the audit documentation:

  • what the extra standards are
  • that these wouldn’t be compulsory for entry into the DVSA earned recognition scheme

The audit documentation must contain enough detail to allow the DVSA scheme manager to understand the:

  • nature
  • results
  • conclusion of the work performed

It should include a summary page showing:

  • the applicant’s details, including all legal entities and operator licences
  • your details
  • the dates of audit and any further verification checks
  • the outcome of the initial audit
  • details of any improvement plan
  • evidence of verification checks
  • the final outcome

Your audit documentation must also be able to fulfil and show the following:

  • compliance modules, performance criteria and assessment requirements
  • auditor evidence to support the assessment result for each performance criteria - this can include:
    • copies of operator documentation
    • system printouts and auditor reference to actual systems
    • documents and procedures seen
  • non-compliance with the statutory requirements for the operator licence identified
  • feedback provided to the operator for any non-compliance
  • the outcome of the systems audit stating whether the standards have been met
  • dated signatures for the auditor, transport manager/ responsible person and operator: these can be electronic but must be verifiable
  • complete, original signed copies for the operator, DVSA and the audit provider
  • quality control reviews and inspections can be conducted

What happens next

After you’ve submitted a completed application and supporting evidence, you’ll receive confirmation of conditional acceptance as an earned recognition authorised audit provider.

You’ll also be published on the list of authorised audit providers on GOV.UK.

The scheme manager will then arrange to carry out an on-site quality assurance check of the first earned recognition audit carried out by your senior auditor.

DVSA will tell you when you can carry out the initial audit. This will be when the operator applying for earned recognition has passed the application review stage.

It should be:

  • arranged within 14 days
  • carried out within 6 weeks, unless otherwise agreed by the scheme manager

Final authorisation will not be granted unless you can show all the standards and requirements are met.

If the audit process doesn’t meet the earned recognition standard, the DVSA representative will decide instead whether the operator being audited has met the DVSA audit standard.

You’ll receive feedback from the DVSA representative and discuss the next steps for your application.

What happens during an audit

Using audit documents accepted by DVSA, you’ll have to follow standards defined in the authorised auditor :

  • code of practice
  • terms and conditions

DVSA will confirm to you when:

  • an audit can take place
  • the date by which the audit documentation must be returned

They may also inform you of:

  • any conditions on an operator’s licence you need to be aware of
  • any particular location you should attend
  • specific documentation to check at audit

To prevent any delay the operator must have all the required evidence available at the time of the audit. An operator’s systems must meet the audit standards referred to in the:

Within 10 days of completion of the audit, you’ll need to send the report and any documentary evidence to the DVSA for review and a decision.

The operator will not be informed of the result of the audit at the time it’s carried out.

If they fail to meet the standards on initial audit the application may be rejected.

But, where issues can be corrected within a month, they’ll be given the opportunity to do so. They’ll need to provide the necessary evidence to the scheme manager who will then decide whether to grant accreditation.

If issues cannot be resolved within a month, the operator will need to submit a further application if they want to be accepted into the scheme.

Application periods

Operators will be allowed to apply for earned recognition status at any time. But their applications will be processed in batches quarterly on the following dates:

  • 1 January
  • 1 April
  • 1 July
  • 1 October

Any application received after these dates will be processed in the next period

An audit can be carried out either up to three months:

  • before the processing date
  • after the application’s been received


An operator decides they want to submit their application for the 1 July processing date. The audit can be carried out in advance from 2 April until 30 June but the application must be received by 1 July.

After DVSA have reviewed the application, they may ask for more checks to be carried out. Or, if the application fails to meet the necessary requirements, it may be rejected.

Improvement plans

If an operator fails to meet the required standards and you think the standards can be met within the application period, an improvement plan can be agreed with the operator.

It’s important that the code of practice is followed. There should be independence between the audit process and any support, other than feedback, given to the operator to meet the required standards.

A further audit may be needed if documentary evidence is insufficient.

The audit summary page should include:

  • the reasons why the standards weren’t met
  • the evidence showing they’ve now been met

Periodic audit

A periodic audit must be carried out every two years to make sure earned recognition standards are being maintained.

If the operator fails a periodic audit on minor issues - which can be fixed within 3 months - the accreditation will continue.

But, if there’s a significant failure of standards, the operator will receive:

  • feedback
  • an action plan
  • a time schedule agreed with the scheme manager to bring the standards to an acceptable level

If the operator doesn’t achieve this, they may be removed from the earned recognition scheme at the discretion of the scheme manager.

DVSA earned recognition: conducting an audit (PDF, 139KB, 1 page)

Quality assurance

Initial audit

DVSA will carry out a quality assurance check of the first earned recognition audit carried out by the senior auditor from your organisation.

This will be on-site and include an assessment of the:

  • audit documentation
  • systems audit process

It’s to make sure standards are set at the correct level and consistent across all authorised audit providers.

During this check, your senior auditor will be able to show that a process exists to prevent any conflict of interest in the relationship between you and the operator.

Any decisions or observations identified during the audit that show the operator meeting the correct level of compliance must be:

  • fully justified
  • sufficiently explained
  • fully documented in the audit report form

Your auditor must provide enough objective evidence to justify their conclusion

They will need to:

  • show independence
  • be able to provide an impartial and considered audit report

The quality assurance check will report any potential threat to the independence of the audit.

The audit must be applicable to the operation and should be conducted at a level that is relevant to the:

  • operating system
  • number of operating centres
  • fleet size

You’ll need to provide evidence that the location or locations used provide a comprehensive audit that satisfactorily measures DVSA earned recognition standards.

Audits must:

  • be carried out in a systematic and appropriate manner
  • provide a level of sampling that ensures an informed judgement
  • give an accurate measurement of the operator standards

During the audit process your auditor should:

  • ask open and probing questions
  • observe and record positive and negative reactions

They should physically check policy and process documentation as well as availability.

The quality assurance checks will look for:

  • a systematic process
  • audits conducted in an appropriate manner
  • sampling carried out effectively, including directed checks

DVSA will not grant final approval unless your auditor can show all the standards and requirements are met.

Periodic checks

To make sure the quality standard is maintained, DVSA will carry out:

  • periodic checks of audit documentation
  • on-site quality assurance checks as required by the scheme manager

At least one auditor assessment will be carried out every year when conducting an earned recognition audit.

Removing authorised audit provider status

The scheme manager may reject an application or remove the status to be an authorised audit provider if:

  • you or your auditors do not meet the responsibilities detailed in the Terms and conditions (PDF, 1.19MB, 6 pages)

  • you or your auditors aren’t following the Code of practice (PDF, 1.18MB, 5 pages)

  • you fail to maintain the required audit standards or competence qualification and quality management systems accreditation

  • you’re involved in or linked to anything likely to damage the reputation of the DVSA earned recognition scheme

How to complain about being rejected or removed from authorised audit status

If your application or authorised status is rejected or removed, you’ll receive written notification from DVSA within 14 days detailing the reasons why.

You’ll then have 14 days to respond in writing to the decision, detailing any facts or circumstances you want DVSA to take into account in reconsidering your status.

A DVSA corporate senior leader will look at your appeal and decide whether:

  • DVSA’s action has been proportionate and reasonable
  • to uphold the decision of the scheme manager

If you’re not satisfied with the response you can email

Published 24 April 2018
Last updated 9 January 2019 + show all updates
  1. A new version of the application form has been added.
  2. First published.