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How to Get a Van Driving Licence

From September 2009, EU legislation introduced a new qualification for drivers of vans over 3.5 tonnes. This legislation means that new van drivers will have to complete a Certificate of Professional Competence, while existing drivers have until 10th September 2014 to undertake 35 hours of extra training.

So how does this legislation affect you, and what do you need to do to retain your licence to drive larger vans?

What vans do the new rules apply to?

The rules apply to vans over 3.5 tonnes in total, which are used for commercial purposes by professional drivers. This includes the weight of the van itself and the maximum payload the van is able to carry. You can find details of your van weights on a plate, either inside the driver’s door or under the bonnet of your van.

Existing drivers and the van driving licence

If you are already driving a van over 3.5 tonnes for a living, and you obtained your driver’s licence before September 2009, then you do not have to take the test to qualify for the new (CPC). However, you do need to undergo 35 hours of extra training by 9th September 2014. You will also have to repeat your 35 hours of training within the five years following your CPC qualification in order to retain your van driver’s licence.

New drivers and the van driving licence

New van drivers, now take a two part test to initially qualify for the Certificate of Professional Competence or CPC. The test includes theory and practical tests, with two optional further stages for drivers who wish to qualify for passenger vehicles as well as goods vehicles. Once you have qualified for the CPC, you will need to undergo the same 35 hours of additional training as established van drivers every five years to retain your licence.

Where to find training to get your van driving licence

There are a number of training companies offering courses that qualify for the 35 hours required for the Certificate of Professional Competence. To find an approved course near you, check with the Approval Unit for Periodic Training.

Exemptions from the van driving licence

It is important to note that these new regulations only apply to professional van drivers; that is people for whom driving is their main occupation. If you drive a van over 3.5 tonnes with the sole purpose of transporting the equipment or materials that you need for your main job, then the new Certificate of Professional Competence may not be required.

You do not need the Certificate of Professional Competence for non-commercial driving either, such as carrying passengers or goods for your own private use. Other exemptions to the new rules include:

  • Vehicles with a speed limited to under 45km/h
  • Armed forces vehicle
  • Fire service vehicles
  • Vehicles used to maintain public order
  • If you are in any doubt whether you need the Certificate of Professional Competence or not, you should check with the DVLA and/or your van insurance company.

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