What types of Operators Licence are issued?

Operator’s Licence cover two main types of commercial transport vehicles. Goods Vehicles (HGV) & Public/Passenger Service Vehicles (PSV). Within each Operators Licence type there are three main formats, which control the conditions the operator licence holder may operate, the vehicles nominated on the Operator’s Licence held. Operator’s Licence formats are:

  • Restricted Operators Licence
  • Standard National Operators Licence
  • Standard International Operators Licence


Before considering if you need an operator’s licence, then the understanding of the terms, “Hire & Reward” & “Own Account” (Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence Only), need to be understood before any decision, on the type of operator’s licence to be applied for.  

Definition of “Hire & Reward” in regards to Goods (HGV) Vehicle Operators Licence

The conditions by which the carriage of goods under “Hire & Reward” conditions are shown below:

Hire & Reward is when the operator’s licence holder, takes payment, & the payment may be (a) a direct payment (b) an indirect payment (this could be an exchange for services for the commercial carriage of goods or burden, & the title of said goods being not that of the operator’s licence holder regardless of whether a profit is made or not.

Definition of “Own Account” in regards to Goods (HGV) Vehicle Operators Licence

The conditions by which the carriage of goods under “own account” conditions are shown below:

Own Account conditions are only considered valid in relation to Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licensing

Goods carried are considered the property of the operator’s licence holder, or have been sold, bought, let out on hire or hired, produced, extracted, processed or repaired by it.

The journey is for the purpose of carrying the goods to or from the operator’s licence holder premises, or the goods movement is for the operator’s licence holder own requirements.

Operator’s licence holder vehicle(s) drivers are considered to be employed by the operator’s licence holder, either by contractual obligation, or are under the control of the restricted operator’s licence, i.e. the use of agency drivers, under the instruction of the operator’s licence holder

The vehicles used under the authority of the holder’s operator’s licence. Are to be owned by the operator’s licence holder, or have been purchased, on deferred terms or have been hired as per the current EU legislation

The carriage of goods under own account conditions, is considered to be no more than ancillary to the overall activities of the operator’s licence holder.

Definition of Hire & Reward in regards to Public/Passenger Service Vehicle (PSV) Operators Licence

The conditions by which the carriage of passengers under “Hire & Reward” conditions are shown below:

Hire & Reward is any payment in cash or kind which gives a person the right to be carried, regardless of whether or not that right is exercised. It is also regardless of whether or not a profit is made. The payment may be made to the operator, the driver or any agent or representative acting on behalf of the operator. The payment may be made by the passenger, or on the passenger’s behalf. It may be (a) a direct payment (e.g. a fare) or (b) an indirect payment (this could be an exchange for services such as a membership subscription to a club, payment for a bed in a hotel, school fees or payment for concert tickets where travel is included; the payment does not have to be money and the right to travel does not need to be taken up.

Restricted Operators Licence: This type of Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence, allows the licence holder to carry the holder’s own goods in the course of their trade or business in Great Britain, and on international journeys. You must not carry goods for other people for hire or reward if you have a Restricted Operators Licence. If you do, you could be fined and lose your licence.

Standard National Operators Licence: Allows this type licence Goods Vehicle Operator’s Licence holder to carry their own goods in Great Britain, & to carry goods for other people for hire or reward in Great Britain.

Even if the operator licence holder vehicles carry other people’s goods only occasionally, the operator’s licence held must be a standard national or international operator’s licence. Also, the operator licence holder can be fined if vehicles which are nominated on the operator’s licence held for national hire or reward work only are used for international work.

However, a standard national operator’s licence allows the operator’s licence holder to haul loaded trailers to or from ports within Great Britain as part of an international journey as long as operator licence holder’s motor vehicles do not actually leave Great Britain.

Standard International Operators Licence: allows the licence holder to carry their own goods, and goods for other people for hire or reward, both in Great Britain and on international journeys.

Operators who are issued with international licences will also receive Community Authorisations which are required for all hire or reward operations in, or through European Community countries.

These have replaced the need for community permits, bilateral permits between member states and permits for transit traffic through the EU but not permits for travel to or through non-EU countries where these are still required.

PSV Restricted Operator’s Licence: A PSV Restricted Operator’s Licence authorises the use of Passenger Service Vehicles: (a): Eight or fewer passengers seats; (b) Nine to sixteen passenger seats, but these vehicles must not be used for commercial passenger transport, i.e. When used in connection with a hotel business, or by a person whose main occupation is not the operation of PSVs, & the vehicles being used are able to carry nine or more passengers. An example of this would be the operation of the minibus business. Which is a side-line and not the operator licence holder’s main occupation.

The maximum number of vehicles that may be authorised under a psv operator’s restricted licence is two. (This restriction does not apply to the Post Office). A psv restricted operator’s licence allows the holder, to operate both in the UK and abroad. However, the psv restricted operator’s licence must be in the name of a limited company. Also, if the psv restricted operator licence holder wants to run nine to 16 passenger seat vehicles, the rule as to the main occupation applies to the legal entity, or person, who is named as the holder of the psv restricted operator’s licence

PSV Standard National, & International Operator’s Licence: A psv standard operator’s licence allows the holder to operate any number of vehicles within its authority in the UK, or abroad if your standard operator’s licence was granted for international operations. Operator licence holders who are issued with standard international licences will also receive EU community licences to allow them to travel to, from or through another Member State. Take note: community licences will not cover the operator licence holder for journeys to non-EU countries, where additional permission may be required to allow travel, if taking place in, or through a none EU country.

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This Website and the information shown on it, has been produced as a basic guide, to show the relationship between a CPC Holder, & the Operator Licence Regime. Therefore, it cannot be considered as formal legal advice.