Understanding the Different Classes for ADR – Necessary Training and Impact on Goods Transported

Drivers of vehicles that have specific tanks and tank components, and also drivers of vehicles that carry dangerous goods are required to hold an ADR certificate.  This certificate is a special vocational training certificate that is issued to drivers who require the additional accreditation once they have already completed their HGV training. 

The acronym ADR stands for ‘Accord Dangereux Routier’ or to give its full legislative title, ‘Accord European Relatif au Transport International Des Marchandises Dangereuses par Route’. 

The ‘Accord Dangereux Routier’ is an international treaty set by the UNECE that regulates the classification, labelling, and transport of dangerous goods by road.  Though initially coming into force in 1968, the agreement is subject to regular review to reflect industry changes including technology advancements. It is important that all haulage companies and drivers are aware of the ADR and the implications for their business operations.

Whilst it might appear that ADR is complex, it is actually a lot more straightforward than it seems.  In its simple form, the ADR rules are in place to reduce the risks to the environment, health, property, and communities associated with transporting dangerous goods.


The ADR regulations relate to the driver, vehicle, and also the businesses who operate transporting dangerous goods.  It is therefore imperative that everyone involved in the transportation of the goods is compliant with the rules and regulations. 

For haulage firms, they need to ensure that any driver they recruit to transport dangerous goods is suitably qualified and fully trained up. 

In addition, the haulage business must ensure:

  • Accurate records of training and licences are maintained
  • Consideration is given to measures that can reduce accidents
  • Documentation accompanying the transportation must identify the types of goods being transported, and the classification of the substances
  • Documentation should also record the type of packaging being used
  • Drivers should be made fully aware of the hazards relating to the transportation
  • All rules relating to different territories are understood by everyone involved
  • That any insurance they have covers the transportation of dangerous goods

Transporting dangerous goods carries additional risks that the ADR regulations attempt to mitigate.  The rules dictate the transportation process, ensuring that all relevant precautions are in place during the packaging of the goods, the transportation, and the delivery of the goods.

Who needs an ADR Licence and Training

As mentioned above, any driver who will be driving a vehicle with a tank or tank component will need ADR training and an ADR licence.  In addition, drivers who will be operating vehicles that carry dangerous goods will also need the ADR training and an ADR licence. 

Not every driver of an HGV will be required to have an ADR certificate and training.  Always check to see if an ADR certificate is required, and make sure any drivers who do need ADR training are suitably qualified. 

What the ADR licence gives drivers is a specific vocational training certificate that is in alignment with the ADR treaty and ensures they are qualified to drive dangerous goods.

An example of when an ADR licence is required includes vehicles that have a tank container which is loaded with dangerous goods.

One of the main reasons ADR training and rules were introduced is to ensure that any driver who is transporting dangerous goods is aware of the additional responsibility they have and that they have completed additional training to raise their awareness and skills level.

ADR ensures that any dangerous goods being transported by road are able to pass over international borders.  It is therefore critical that the drivers and vehicles comply with the ADR rules and ensure all training and licences are up to date.  Ensuring all training is up to date will also make things easier for you when it comes to renewing your insurance.

Different Classes of ADR Licence

There are nine classes of ADR licence that require drivers to be trained so they can transport the types of dangerous goods they need to.  The classes are listed below:

  1. Class 1 – Explosives
  2. Class 2 – Gases
  3. Class 3 – Flammable Liquids
  4. Class 4 – Flammable solids
  5. Class 5 – Oxidising Agents
  6. Class 6 – Toxics
  7. Class 7 – Radioactives
  8. Class 8 – Corrosives
  9. Class 9 – Miscellaneous

Getting Qualified

In order to drive dangerous goods, drivers will need to train and pass the relevant ADR exams and get the ADR licence.  For any HGV driver who is transporting goods, they also need to ensure that they have qualified as a HGV driver and have the relevant Driver Certificate of Professional Competence.

There is actually no minimum time period a driver needs to have held an HGV driving licence in order to start training for an ADR licence.  This means new drivers can qualify as an HGV driver and move straight on to ADR training.

Why ADR Training is required

ADR training is in place to ensure that drivers who are transporting dangerous goods have the information, skills, and tools they need in order to:

  • Be fully aware of the hazards involved with carrying dangerous goods
  • Be compliant with the specific rules relating to transporting dangerous goods internationally
  • Know what to do in the event of an accident
  • Take steps to reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring

Training for ADR Licences

In order to qualify as an ADR driver you will need to know exactly what type of dangerous goods you will be transporting.  You will then be required to book a training course, pass the course and the ADR tests and then wait until you receive your ADR card. 

The ADR card that is issued will show the dangerous goods you are permitted to transport.  If at any time, the nature of the dangerous goods you transport changes, you can add additional dangerous goods classes to the ADR card by taking some additional training courses and tests.

Once you complete the relevant ADR training you will be issued with an ADR Licence.  This licence will remain valid for up to 5 years.  After the 5 years, drivers are required to complete an ADR refresher training course to ensure they remain compliant with the ADR rules.

ADR training courses comprise of core modules and additional modules.  The additional modules drivers need to take will depend on the types of dangerous goods they will be transporting, and how the packages are transported.

A list of the official training courses can be found here.

About ADR Training

Typically, the ADR course lasts about 7 days but this depends on what training you choose.  In order to take the training, you will need to ensure you have some form of ID (passport, driving licence, Driver CPC card etc).

The modules take from 45 minutes to 9 hours to complete.  The core module comes with a minimum training time of 9 hours as that is the essential piece of training you will undertake.

HGV Insurance

Heavy goods vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the driver and the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard and bespoke insurance policy.

ISIS Insurance offers a wide variety of insurance options and quotes that cover everything a HGV might need when it comes to insurance, from skip lorries to refrigerated vehicles.