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Become a qualified heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or bus driver

Photo Credit: Anthony Coles

How to become a qualified heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver and get the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).

Contents

 

  • Getting qualified
  • Returning to be an HGV or bus driver
  • If driving is not the main part of your job or the vehicle is exempt
  • Applying for a provisional HGV or bus licence
  • Driver CPC part 1 test: theory
  • Driver CPC part 2 test: case studies
  • Driver CPC part 3 test: driving ability
  • Driver CPC part 4 test: practical demonstration
  • After you’ve qualified
  • Upgrade your licence to tow heavier trailers
  • Fees

Getting qualified

 

To become a heavy goods vehicle (HGV), bus or coach driver you need to:

  • have a full car licence
  • be over 18 - but there are some exceptions
  • get a professional driving qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)

 

You must have the full Driver CPC if you drive an HGV, bus or coach as the main part of your job.

There are 4 tests that make up the full Driver CPC. You might not need to take all 4 tests, for example if you previously qualified as an HGV driver and you want to retrain.

 

If you’re qualifying for the first time

 

  1. Apply for a provisional HGV or bus licence.

  2. Pass the 4 tests that make up the Driver CPC to qualify.

  3. Take 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to stay qualified.

 

You need to renew your bus or HGV licence every 5 years, and every year when you reach 65.

 

If you’re taking a National Vocational Training (NVT) course

 

If you’re taking an approved NVT course you can drive professionally for up to 12 months without taking the Driver CPC part 2 and part 4 tests.

 

If you have qualified as an HGV or bus driver before

 

If you have previous experience as a qualified HGV or bus driver, you can return without taking all 4 tests for the Driver CPC.

  1. Renew your bus or HGV licence.

  2. Do 35 hours of training or take parts 2 and 4 of the Driver CPC tests.

  3. Take 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to stay qualified.

 

Read more about what you need to do to return to HGV or bus driving.

 

If driving is not the main part of your job or the vehicle is exempt

 

You might not need the full Driver CPC to drive an HGV or bus, for example if you:

  • want to carry passengers or goods for personal use and not commercially
  • only drive for certain tasks, like taking the vehicle to test centres
  • drive as part of your job, but it is not the main part of your job

 

You also do not need the full Driver CPC if the vehicle you’re driving is either:

  • limited to 28mph
  • being used by services like the armed forces or the police

 

Check if you’re exempt from needing the full Driver CPC.


Returning to be an HGV or bus driver

 

If you previously qualified, you do not have to do the full qualification process again to bring your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) up to date.

 

Check and renew your licence

 

If you’re not sure whether your licence is still valid, you can check what vehicles you’re allowed to drive.

You need to renew your licence if it’s expired.

 

Bring your Driver CPC up to date

 

What you need to do depends on when you originally got your heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or bus licence.

Some employers offer help with the cost of training.

 

If you got an HGV licence before 10 September 2009 or a bus licence before 10 September 2008

 

You can either:

 

If you’ve already taken parts 2 and 4 of the Driver CPC tests, you cannot take them again. You must take 35 hours of training instead.

 

If you got an HGV licence on or after 10 September 2009 or a bus licence on or after 10 September 2008

 

You need to complete 35 hours of Driver CPC training by finding and taking training courses.

Any training you’ve done in the last 5 years counts towards the total. The training counts for 5 years from the date you took the course.

 

After you’ve completed your training or tests

 

Your new Driver CPC card will be sent to the address on your driving licence when you’ve completed your training or tests.

Check what you need to do once you’ve requalified.


If driving is not the main part of your job or the vehicle is exempt

 

You do not need the full Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification 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 working time
  • driving lessons for anyone who wants to get a driving licence or a Driver CPC
  • driving to or from pre-booked appointments at official vehicle testing centres
  • driving within 62 miles (100 kilometres) of your base - but the vehicle cannot be carrying passengers or goods, and driving a heavy goods vehicle (HGV), bus or coach cannot be your main job
  • maintaining public order - and the vehicle is being used or controlled by a local authority
  • rescue missions or in states of emergency
  • driving for an agriculture, horticulture, forestry, farming or fisheries business, as long as driving is less than 30% of your rolling monthly working time

 

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

  • limited to a top speed of 28mph
  • 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

 

You can read detailed examples of Driver CPC exemptions.

If you are not sure if you need the Driver CPC, you should seek legal advice.

 

What you need to do

 

If you want to become an HGV, bus or coach driver in these situations you need to:

  1. Apply for a provisional HGV or bus licence.

  2. Pass the part 1 (theory) and part 3 (driving ability) tests.

 

You need to renew your bus or HGV licence every 5 years when you reach 45 and every year when you reach 65.


Applying for a provisional HGV or bus licence

 

When you apply, you’ll need to choose what category of provisional licence you’re applying for.

The category of provisional licence you need depends on the type of vehicle you want to drive and the weight of the trailer you can tow with it.

Before you apply, check the licence categories for large vehicles - which include heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) - and buses.

 

How to apply

 

To apply, order forms D2 and D4 from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The D4 form has to be filled in by a doctor. This could be either:

  • your GP - but an optician might need to fill in the section about your eyesight
  • a private firm specialising in drivers’ medical exams

 

Your doctor, optician or a private firm can charge you.

 

Order the forms online

 

Order now

 

Send the forms

 

Send both forms and your photocard driving licence to DVLA. There’s no application fee.

You only need to include a passport-style colour photo and original identity documents if you have a paper driving licence.

DVLA
Swansea
SA99 1BR

 

How long it takes

 

You should get your driving licence within 3 weeks of DVLA getting your application. It can take longer if your health or personal details need to be checked.

You automatically lose your HGV or bus licence if you lose your car licence.


Driver CPC part 1 test: theory

 

You can book the part 1 theory test of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) as soon as you’ve got your provisional licence.

The test is made up of 2 parts - multiple choice and hazard perception. You have to book both parts separately, but you can take them on the same day.

It does not matter which one you take first but you need to pass both within 2 years of each other to get your theory test certificate.

 

What to take to your test

 

You must bring one of the following:

  • a Great Britain photocard driving licence
  • a Northern Ireland photocard driving licence and paper counterpart
  • an EU photocard driving licence (and paper counterpart, if you have one)

 

If you do not have a photocard driving licence, bring your paper licence and a valid passport.

Your test will be cancelled and you’ll lose your fee if you do not bring the right documents.

 

Wearing a face covering at your test

 

In England, you can choose whether or not to wear a face covering at your test.

In Scotland and Wales, you must wear a face covering at your test. If you do not wear one, you must have a good reason, for example:

  • you have a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability
  • wearing it would cause you severe distress

 

Wearing glasses does not count as a good reason.

You need to say why you cannot wear a face covering when you book your test in Scotland and Wales. If you do not, and you come to your test without a face covering, your test will be cancelled.

If you’ve already booked your test and did not say that you cannot wear a face covering, contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

DVSA theory test booking support
Telephone: 0300 200 1122
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

 

When you must not go to your test

 

You must not go to your test if either:

 

Find out about:

 

You can change your theory test appointment for free if you need to self-isolate or quarantine on the day of your test.

 

How the test works

 

Multiple-choice questions part

 

You can take a practice test to find out how the test works.

The multiple-choice questions part lasts for 1 hour and 55 minutes, and the pass mark is 85 out of 100 questions.

 

Hazard perception part

 

Watch a video about how the hazard perception part works.

You’ll watch 19 videos, and there are 20 developing hazards to spot.

The pass mark is 67 out of 100. You cannot review your answers.

 

Your test result

 

You’ll be given a letter at the test centre with the results for the part of the theory test you’ve just taken.

When you’ve passed both parts, your theory test certificate will be posted to you. You need this when you book your Driver CPC part 3 driving test.

Your theory test certificate is valid for 2 years from when you passed the first part of the test.

You need to pass the Driver CPC part 3 driving test within 2 years, otherwise you’ll have to pass the part 1 theory test again.

 

If you fail the theory tests

 

You’ll get a results letter with feedback telling you why you’ve failed.

You can book another theory test straight away, but you cannot take it for another 3 clear working days.

 

Cancelled tests

 

You can apply for a refund of out-of-pocket expenses if the DVSA cancels your test at short notice.


Driver CPC part 2 test: case studies

 

You can book the part 2 case studies test of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) as soon as you’ve got your provisional licence. You do not need to have passed the Driver CPC part 1 theory test.

If you’re requalifying as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or bus driver by taking parts 2 and 4 of the test, you cannot book your test online. You have to book by phone instead.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency customer services
Telephone: 0300 200 1122 (choose option 01)
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

 

What to take to your test

 

You must bring one of the following:

  • a Great Britain photocard driving licence
  • a Northern Ireland photocard driving licence and paper counterpart
  • an EU photocard driving licence (and paper counterpart, if you have one)

 

If you do not have a photocard driving licence, bring your paper licence and a valid passport.

Your test will be cancelled and you’ll lose your fee if you do not bring the right documents.

 

Wearing a face covering at your test

 

In England, you can choose whether or not to wear a face covering at your test.

In Scotland and Wales, you must wear a face covering at your test. If you do not wear one, you must have a good reason, for example:

  • you have a physical or mental illness, impairment or disability
  • wearing it would cause you severe distress

 

Wearing glasses does not count as a good reason.

You need to say why you cannot wear a face covering when you book your test in Scotland and Wales. If you do not, and you come to your test without a face covering, your test will be cancelled.

If you’ve already booked your test and did not say that you cannot wear a face covering, contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

DVSA theory test booking support
Telephone: 0300 200 1122
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

 

When you must not go to your test

 

You must not go to your test if either:

 

Find out about:

 

You can change your theory test appointment for free if you need to self-isolate or quarantine on the day of your test.

 

How the test works

 

The test is made up of 7 case studies you work through on a computer. The case studies are short stories based on situations that you’re likely to come across in your working life.

You’ll be asked between 6 and 8 multiple-choice questions on each case study.

The test lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes, and the pass mark is 40 out of 50.

 

Your test result

 

You’ll get a letter with the results at the test centre.

You need the test pass reference number when you book your Driver CPC part 4 practical demonstration test.

The pass letter is valid for 2 years.

You need to pass the Driver CPC part 4 practical demonstration test within 2 years, otherwise you’ll have to pass the part 2 case studies test again.

 

If you fail the test

 

You’ll get a result letter with feedback telling you why you’ve failed.

You can book another case studies test straight away, but you cannot take it for another 3 clear working days.

 

Cancelled tests

 

You can apply for a refund of out-of-pocket expenses if DVSA cancels your test at short notice.


Driver CPC part 3 test: driving ability

 

You must have passed the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) part 1 theory test before you can book the Driver CPC part 3 test.

 

What to take to your test

 

You must bring a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or a bus or coach that meets the rules.

You must bring a face covering, unless you have a good reason not to wear one.

 

You must also bring one of the following:

  • a Great Britain photocard driving licence
  • a Northern Ireland photocard driving licence and paper counterpart
  • an EU photocard driving licence (and paper counterpart, if you have one)

 

If you do not have a photocard driving licence, bring your paper licence and a valid passport.

Your test will be cancelled and you’ll lose your fee if you do not bring these.

 

Wearing a face covering

 

You must wear a face covering for your test, unless you have a good reason not to. Good reasons are things like:

  • having a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability
  • wearing it would cause you severe distress

 

You need to say if you have a good reason not to wear a face covering when you book your test.

You can take it off during your test if you need to avoid harm or injury.

Your test will be cancelled if you come for your test without a face covering and you did not say that you could not wear one when you booked it.

 

Taking a coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow test before your driving test

 

You can choose to take a rapid lateral flow test in the 48 hours before your driving test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Find out how to:

 

When you must not go to your test

 

You must not go to your test if either:

 

Find out about:

 

How the test works

 

Your practical test will last about 1 hour and 30 minutes and includes:

  • vehicle safety questions
  • practical road driving
  • off-road exercises

 

Vehicle safety questions

 

During your test you’ll be asked vehicle safety questions on either:

 

Practical road driving

 

During your practical road driving, the examiner will see how you:

  • use the vehicle controls
  • move away at an angle, uphill and downhill
  • do a controlled stop
  • use the mirrors
  • give appropriate signals
  • show awareness and anticipation of other road users’ intentions
  • manage your progress and control your vehicle speed
  • deal with hazards
  • select a safe place to stop

 

There will also be 10 minutes of independent driving, designed to test your ability to drive safely while making independent decisions.

 

Off-road exercises

 

The off-road exercises will include:

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

 

During the test

 

You can carry on if you make a mistake during your driving test.

If you make a mistake which means you’ve failed, your driving examiner will direct you back to the driving test centre. The test will end early.

 

Test result

 

After you’ve taken the practical test your examiner will tell you if you’ve passed and explain how you did.

You’ll pass your test if you make:

  • 15 or fewer driving faults
  • no serious or dangerous faults

 

If you fail, you can book another driving test straight away, but you cannot take it for another 3 clear working days.

 

Cancelled tests

 

You can apply for a refund of out-of-pocket expenses if the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) cancels your test at short notice.


Driver CPC part 4 test: practical demonstration

 

You must have passed the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) part 2 test before you can book the Driver CPC part 4 test.

 

Book your test

 

You can either:

 

If you’re requalifying as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or bus driver by taking parts 2 and 4 of the test, you cannot book your test online. You have to book by phone instead.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency customer services
Telephone: 0300 200 1122 (choose option 02)
Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

 

What to take to your test

 

You must bring an HGV or a bus or coach that meets the rules.

You must bring a face covering, unless you have a good reason not to wear one.

You must also bring one of the following:

  • a Great Britain photocard driving licence
  • a Northern Ireland photocard driving licence and paper counterpart
  • an EU photocard driving licence (and paper counterpart, if you have one)

 

If you do not have a photocard driving licence, bring your paper licence and a valid passport.

Your test will be cancelled and you’ll lose your fee if you do not bring these.

 

Taking a coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow test before your driving test

 

You can choose to take a rapid lateral flow test in the 48 hours before your driving test if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Find out how to:

 

When you must not go to your test

 

You must not go to your test if either:

 

Find out about:

 

Wearing a face covering

 

You must wear a face covering for your test, unless you have a good reason not to. Good reasons are things like:

  • having a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability
  • wearing it would cause you severe distress

 

You need to say if you have a good reason not to wear a face covering when you book your test.

You can take it off during your test if you need to avoid harm or injury.

Your test will be cancelled if you go to your test without a face covering and you did not say that you could not wear one when you booked it.

 

How the test works

 

You’re tested on being able to:

  • load the vehicle following safety rules and to keep it secure
  • stop trafficking in illegal immigrants
  • assess emergency situations
  • reduce physical risks to yourself or others
  • do a walkaround vehicle safety check

 

The test is made up of 5 topics from the Driver CPC syllabus. You can score up to 20 points for each topic.

To pass you have to score at least 15 out of 20 in each topic area and have an overall score of at least 80 out of 100.

 

Test result

 

At the end of your test the examiner will tell you if you’ve passed.

If you fail, you can book another driving test straight away, but you cannot take it for another 3 clear working days.

 

Cancelled tests

 

You can apply for a refund of out-of-pocket expenses if the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) cancels your test at short notice.


After you’ve qualified

 

Once you’ve qualified, there are things you need to do when working as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or bus driver.

 

Apply for a digital tachograph card

 

Apply for a digital driver tachograph card to store information about your daily work.

 

Prepare for international journeys

 

If you’re going to drive an HGV or bus in Europe, you’ll need to:

 

Check what else you’ll need to:

 

Getting your Driver CPC card

 

Once you’ve qualified, you’ll be sent a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card. This is sometimes called a ‘driver qualification card’ or ‘DQC’.

The card will be sent to the address on your driving licence. You need to change this address first if it’s wrong.

The photograph and signature on your photocard licence will be used on your Driver CPC card.

 

Driving without your card

 

You must carry your Driver CPC card while driving an HGV, bus or coach professionally.

You can drive without it if you’ve passed the tests and you’re waiting for it to arrive.

If you requalified by taking the 35 hours training, make sure your training provider has recorded your training within 5 working days of you completing it. If they do not, you cannot drive while you’re waiting for your card to arrive.

Once your Driver CPC card has arrived, you can get a £50 fixed penalty for driving professionally without your card.

 

If your card does not arrive

 

You should get your Driver CPC card within 20 days of passing the final test. Contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) if you do not receive it.

Driver CPC card replacements
[email protected]
Telephone: 0300 123 7721
Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
Find out about call charges

 

You have to pay £25 if:

  • you take longer than 3 months to tell DVSA it has not arrived
  • it’s sent to an old address because you have not updated your licence

 

Replace your card

 

You must replace your Driver CPC card if it’s lost or stolen.

The Driver CPC card does not have your address on it, so you do not have to get a new one if your address changes.

 

Stay qualified

 

To stay qualified, every 5 years you must:

 

If you’re 65 or over you must renew your HGV or bus driving licence every year.

 

Qualify to tow heavier trailers

 

Once you’ve qualified, you’ll need to take additional steps if you want to tow heavier trailers.

This includes if you want to drive an articulated lorry rather than a rigid lorry, for example.


Upgrade your licence to tow heavier trailers

 

The full Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) lets you drive vehicles in the category you took your test in. There are limits on what size trailer you can tow with each category of vehicle.

If you want to tow a larger trailer, you’ll need to upgrade your licence.

Vehicle categories have changed over time. You might know a category C vehicle licence as an ‘HGV 2’ licence, and towing heavier trailers as ‘HGV 1’. You can check how older vehicle categories relate to the current versions.

 

How to upgrade your licence

 

  1. Find and complete training for the type of vehicle and trailer combination you want to use. For example, you need to take articulated lorry training if you want to drive an articulated lorry rather than a rigid lorry with a trailer.

  2. Book and pass the Driver CPC part 3 test again.

 

When you take the part 3 test, you’ll need to use a vehicle that meets either the:

 

You do not need to apply for a new provisional licence or take the Driver CPC part 1 test again before you take the part 3 test.

You can only upgrade your licence this way if it’s in the same category - for example, going from a C to a C+E. If you want to add a different category to your licence, you need to go through the usual qualification process for that category.


Fees

 

Provisional licence

  Cost
Application for a provisional heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or bus licence No charge

 

Test costs

  Weekday Evening, weekend and bank holiday
Driver CPC part 1 -
theory - (multiple-choice)
£26 £26
Driver CPC part 1 -
theory - (hazard perception)
£11 £11
Driver CPC part 2 -
case studies
£23 £23
Driver CPC part 3 -
driving ability
£115 £141
Driver CPC part 4 -
practical demonstration
£55 £63

These are the prices to book your tests using the official service. Unofficial websites may charge more.

 

Driver CPC card costs

  Cost
Driver CPC card (non-UK driving licences only) £25
Replacement for lost, stolen or damaged card £25

 

NVT concession fees

  Cost
National Vocational Training (NVT) concession card £25

Source: www.gov.uk

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