UK van operators to need ‘O’ licence for EU travel from May

Dec 27 | 2021

From 21 May, 2022 operators using light goods vehicles - for example vans, or cars and vans towing trailers - to transport goods from the UK to the EU, will need a standard international goods vehicle operator licence.

The new rule will also apply to vehicles travelling to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Those affected will need to either add the vehicles to their existing goods vehicle operator licence if they already have one or apply for a new licence.

The new rules will apply to:

  • vans with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) over 2,500kg (2.5 tonnes) and up to and including 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes);
  • vans towing a trailer with a gross train weight (GTW) over 2.5 tonnes and up to and including 3.5 tonnes;
  • cars towing a trailer with a GTW over 2.5 tonnes and up to and including 3.5 tonnes.

It costs £257 to apply for a goods vehicle operator licence and if successful, a further £401 for the licence.  A continuation fee of £401 is also payable every five years thereafter.

There are different goods vehicle operator licensing fees in Northern Ireland.

Financial standing

By law, operators need to prove they have access to a set amount of finance to run their business. The amount depends on how many vehicles the company has on its fleet. Operators must have at least £1,600 available for the first vehicle and an extra £800 for every additional vehicle.


Transport manager

Companies must also have a transport manager. This is someone responsible for things such as:

  • planning routes and scheduling delivery times;
  • managing the team of drivers and administration staff;
  • making sure drivers follow company and industry regulations;
  • arranging vehicle maintenance, MOTs and tax payments;
  • organising vehicle replacements.

Operators may either:

  • use an existing member of staff who is not qualified as a transport manager, but has managed fleets of vehicles for at least 10 years before 20 August, 2020;
  • employ someone with a transport manager qualification (called a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence - or ‘CPC’);
  • hire an external, qualified transport manager.

For more information about appointing a transport manager click here.

The Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain or the Transport Regulation Unit in Northern Ireland will be able to take action against you if you do not add the vehicles to your licence.

Companies operating without a licence are also liable to fines and may have their vehicles seized and sold by the authorities in the EU.