Operator Licence Applications – New Applications and Variations

Nick Woodhead - Transport Co-ordinator

Nick Woodhead – Transport Co-ordinator

Do you need help completing an Operator Licence application form?

If you want  to operate goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight in connection with your business or for hire and reward  then you need an operator licence – ‘restricted’ or ‘standard’. This requires an application on Form GV79. The same applies to any variation of the licence such as increasing the margin on your authorisation to enable you to add additional vehicles to the licence (GV81), a change of operating centre or adding a new operating centre (GV81), upgrading your licence type from restricted to standard or changing your transport manager (GV80A) or varying any conditions or undertakings recorded on your licence (GV81).

You may think that it is simply a case of filling out an application form and sending it in, right? Wrong unfortunately! The application form is full of potential traps and pitfalls for the unwary. We are experienced solicitors and even we find the questions asked  and information requested can sometimes open a can of worms that will leave the stoutest of spirits  quailing in their boots. It is always better to know and understand what might cause the application to be refused or lead to it being called to a Public Inquiry. It always helps to have an experienced legal team on your side to help you understand and appreciate what the Office of the Traffic Commissioners in Leeds are thinking. Operator licensing is intelligence driven and the Office of the Traffic Commissioner are very adept at identifying applications that may bear closer scrutiny either because there are funding issues, maintenance issues or the parties names on the application are already on the Office of the Traffic Commissioner’s radar for some other reason.

Still don’t believe us? Well, if the statistics and following quotes from Traffic Commissioners do not convince you then nothing will. Approximately 80% of new applications are not completed properly at the first attempt, and this leads to delays in your goods vehicle or pcv operator licence being granted and delay usually equates to  lost revenue or lost opportunity.  And this 80% figure is an improvement on previous years!

We say it is prudent to take professional advice when completing an Operator’s Licence application form.  Don’t just take our word for it; heed the advice of the following Traffic Commissioners:

  • The success rate for applications for PSV (PCV) licences is low. Very few applications are completed correctly at the first attempt. This causes additional work for the licensing team and frustration and delay for applicants. I would urge all applicants to seek professional support in making their application. The cost of such support will be easily offset by the benefit of being able to operate weeks or even months sooner.” Kevin Rooney, Traffic Commissioner(Traffic Commissioners’ Annual Reports 2011-12)
  • Too many wrong answers are given to questions on application forms, for example, persons self-servingly awarding themselves rehabilitation as offenders when in truth they should have declared jail sentences.” Joan Aitken, Traffic Commissioner (Traffic Commissioners’ Annual Reports 2011-12)
  • It is very disappointing that the Central Licensing Office remain burdened by a disproportionate number of incomplete applications. These range from circa 70% incomplete for variation applications and circa 80% incomplete for new applications. There is some improvement as the previous figure was around 85%.” Sarah Bell, Traffic Commissioner (Traffic Commissioners’ Annual Reports 2013-14)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the questions in the GV79 application are designed to flush out applicants who may be seeking to conceal some history from the  Traffic Commissioners. If you have been linked to an operation that has some history you need to be extremely careful how you fill in the application form. If you make misleading statements it can damage your prospects. You really do need to seek professional advice to ensure your answers are truthful and will not return to haunt you.  Traffic Commissioners take these matters extremely seriously. HGV and PCV Operator licences whether restricted or standard are granted on trust by Traffic Commissioners. If that trust is betrayed the chances are your application will either be rejected or  will be delayed or you will be called to Public Inquiry to give an account for the misleading or erroneous information in your application!

Convinced now? You should be but….

Even if you have no history or issues  your application may still be rejected or refused. Obviously if you run into trouble we are here to help.

Once you have submitted your application, you may be contacted by the Office of the Traffic Commissioners to discuss it or to obtain further information. You must therefore provide them with details of who the contact is going to be for this purpose. You should ensure that the person nominated will be contactable during the weeks after your application has been submitted. If further information is required and you cannot be contacted, then your application may be refused. You will be asked to provide correspondence address, telephone number and email address details. These details will continue to be used to contact you about your licence if your application is successful. You should always immediately inform the Office of the Traffic Commissioners of any changes to your contact information.

You should note that the address cannot be a PO Box or third party address and there must be an address in Great Britain.  Standard licence applicants please note that there is a requirement that every standard licence holder/applicant must have an establishment in Great Britain (GB) with premises in which it keeps its core business documents. Examples of these documents include accounting and personnel management documents and data on driving time and rest. This means that the use of PO Box and third party addresses are not permitted.

Please make sure the operator licence you apply for is the right license for your business operation. Please also ensure that the application is in the name of the correct entity. You would be surprised how often mistakes get made so that even if a licence is granted your operation may not actually be operating legally.

Fill in your information below to download  the OL Application Guidance Notes

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