All you need to know about being a goods vehicle operator

Being a goods vehicle operator involves considerably more than simply loading your truck at one destination and transporting the load to another destination. There are all manner of additional considerations to be taken into account:

  • if the vehicle you use to carry the goods weighs more than 3.5 tonnes (gross plated weight) you need an operator’s licence issued by the new Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) – which succeeds the previous Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA);
  • operator’s licences may be one of three different categories;
  • restricted – this licence allows you to carry only goods that you own and not those owned by third parties. Once issued, the licence must be renewed every five years – at a current fee of £397;
  • standard national – both goods that you own and those owned by third parties may be carried by your vehicles within the UK only. The same requirement for renewal every five years applies;
  • standard international – this licence allows you to carry both your own cargo and other people’s within the UK and internationally. It needs to be renewed every five years;
  • these licences are not intended to be difficult to secure, but they involve more than a little amount of work on your part and the application process is likely to take around nine weeks, according to the DVSA website;
  • the process involves your advertising the fact that you are making such an application;
  • you must identify your depot or centre of operations;
  • if you are applying for either a national or international licence you must name your company’s transport manager;
  • you need to give a certain amount of information about your company’s financial status; and
  • there needs to be a contract between you and an agent or garage that is going to complete repairs and perform safety inspections (unless you are doing these yourself).
  • it may be apparent, therefore, that whether the goods you are proposing to carry are your own or someone else’s you nevertheless assume responsibility for those goods whilst they are in transit;
  • if the goods are lost, stolen or damaged, you may be directly or indirectly responsible for that loss;
  • for that reason, goods in transit insurance may be a very sensible precaution;
  • the cover may form part of your overall HGV insurance or may be arranged separately – at Isis Insurance we offer a comprehensive range of cover;
  • it is important that the cover for any goods in transit is adequate to cover the potential total loss of those goods – if they are valued at £50,000 at the time of the loss, for example, and you have cover for only £25,000, the £25,000 shortfall you may need to find from your own resources;
  • given the changing nature and value of loads you are likely to be carrying, therefore, it may prove difficult to estimate the total sum to be insured under any goods in transit cover.

These comments are by no means an exhaustive account of what it means to be a goods vehicle operator but nevertheless aim to highlight some of the areas which you might find critical to your operations.