What is an HGV Restricted Operator's Licence?

Understanding the Restricted Operator's Licence in the UK

There are so many regulations surrounding vehicle operations in the UK, it can be challenging to wrap ones' head round them all. This quick guide aims to explain the details of Restricted Operator's Licences, to help businesses comply with legal requirements.

What is a Restricted Operator's Licence?

The Restricted Operator's Licence, often abbreviated as Restricted O Licence or Restricted Ops Licence, is a necessary certification for businesses in the UK that operate vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes for transporting their own goods, rather than for hire or reward. This licence is a legal requirement for companies that need to move goods as part of their business operations, but do not operate transport services commercially.

What is an HGV Restricted Operator's Licence?

Key Requirements for Obtaining a Restricted Operator's Licence

To successfully apply for a Restricted Operator's Licence, businesses must meet several critical requirements:

  1. Operating Centre: Businesses must have an established operating centre where vehicles are kept when not in use.
  2. Financial Standing: Applicants must demonstrate that they have the financial resources to maintain their vehicles. For Restricted O Licences, this is currently £3100 for the first vehicle, and a further £1700 for every subsequent vehicle.
  3. Good Repute: Companies must prove they are well-managed and comply with transport laws. The applicant and their staff will also be assessed for relevant convictions and fixed penalty notices (fines for 'minor' driving offences).

    However, a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualified transport manager is not required for a business to hold a Restricted Operator's Licence.

    For more guidance on the Traffic Commissioners' Good Repute requirements, click here to open a PDF of their guidance document.

Detailed Rules and Regulations

Operating under a Restricted Operator's Licence involves adherence to specific rules, collectively known as Restricted O Licence Rules. These rules are designed to ensure that vehicles are maintained properly, safety standards are met, and that all operations are conducted within the bounds of the law. It's essential for licence holders to regularly review and comply with these regulations to avoid penalties.

What is an HGV Restricted Operator's Licence?

Comparison with Other Licences

Understanding the differences between the Restricted Operator's Licence and other types of operator licences is vital for businesses. There are three types of HGV O Licence:

Standard National licence

This level of O Licence allows you to carry goods (whether they are your own, or others') anywhere in the UK.

Standard International Licence

With this Operator's Licence, you are permitted to carry goods both in the UK, and on international journeys. However, to drive in the EU, a UK Licence for the Community is also required.

Restricted Licence

Restricted Licences allow operators to carry their own goods, but not for hire or reward.

For example, a scaffolder could use a Restricted Operator's Licence since their vehicles would be used to transport their own equipment, which they need in order to provide their service. However, a skip hire business would not be able to do this, as delivering the skip to and from the customer's address (the main function of the business) would constitute haulage for hire or reward. This example was tested in a recent high-profile ruling.

Application Process

Applying for a Restricted Operator's Licence involves submitting detailed information to the Traffic Commissioner, including proof of financial stability, a list of vehicles, and their operating centre locations. The application process may also involve a public inquiry to ensure all restricted operator's licence requirements are fully met.

Maintaining Compliance

Once obtained, maintaining a Restricted Operator's Licence requires ongoing compliance with restricted operator's licence rules, vehicle inspections, and adherence to safety protocols. Businesses may find it beneficial to appoint a transport manager to oversee compliance, although this isn't a requirement.

Holders must pay a licence continuation fee every 5 years in order to keep their licence valid. This currently costs £401.


A Restricted Operator's Licence is essential for businesses in the UK that transport their own goods using large vehicles. Compliance with restricted operator's licence requirements ensures safe and legal operation of transport activities. Businesses must stay informed about the latest regulations and ensure all aspects of their operations align with the Traffic Commissioner’s standards.

For further information, refer to the UK Government's official guide on goods vehicle operator licensing.

What is an HGV Restricted Operator's Licence?

Further Reading

If you've found our page useful, we've linked below a few more of our recent guides:

About The Author

Simon T

Simon Theaker
Simon has over 20 years of dealing with tachograph analysis, and the technologies involved.
His in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience have made him a key behind-the-scenes member of the TachoMagic team.

Through his blogs, Simon hopes to make the lives of Fleet Managers easier, as he shares the answers to some of the most common questions he has received.

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