Much has been written in the news (and by ourselves) about the ongoing HGV driver shortage facing the UK. And there is a big drive to attract people to the industry both by the government and from businessesthemselves.
So, if you are looking for a career change, starting out as an owner operator or thinking of re-entering the profession we look at how long it can take to get an HGV licence.
How long does it take to get an HGV licence?
Exactly how long it will take to gain your HGV licence depends on a few factors.
- If you are qualifying as an HGV driver for the first time
- If you are re-entering the industry and requalifying
- The type of vehicle that you want to drive and size of trailer you want to tow
It is likely to take longer to get your HGV licence if you are qualifying for the first time.
There has also been much in the news about delays caused to the process of obtaining an HGV licence due to the impacts of COVID-19 on test centres. As such, some changes are being made to the HGV driving test process which we will cover later in this blog.
Qualifying as an HGV driver for the first time
If you are looking to enter the industry as an HGV driver for the first time in your career, then you will need to
- Have a full car licence
- Be over 18 (some exceptions apply to this rule)
If you meet these criteria, you will then need to:
Apply for your provisional HGV licence.
Applying for your provisional HGV licence is the first step you need to take. There are different categories of provisional licence depending on the type of vehicle you want to drive. They also determine the weight of trailer that you can tow. So, you will need to know what type of vehicle you want to drive before you apply for your provisional licence.
HGV’s typically fall under Category C (sometimes referred to as HGV Class 2 licence) or Category CE (sometimes referred to as HGV Class 1 licence). But you can check the driving licence categories on the gov.uk website.
You can apply for your provisional licence online or through the post. You should get your driving licence within 3 weeks of DVLA getting your application. But be aware that it can take longer if your health or personal details need to be checked.
Complete the Driver CPC tests
There are 4 tests which make up the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC).
Test 1 – Theory test
Made up of two tests – multiple choice and hazard perception, this can be booked as soon as you receive your provisional licence. Once passed, your theory test certificate is valid for 2 years from when you passed the first part of the test.
Test 2 – Case Studies
Again, the case study element of your CPC can be booked as soon as you receive your provisional licence. You do not have to have passed Test 1 to take Test 2. Once passed, your pass letter is valid for 2 years.
Test 3 – Driving Ability
You must have passed test 1 of the driver CPC before you book test 3. The practical driving ability test lasts around an hour and a half. At the end of the test, you are told if you have passed or not.
Test 4 – Practical Demonstration
You must have passed test 2 of the driver CPC before booking test 4. The test is made up of 5 topics from the Driver CPC syllabus. You can score up to 20 points for each topic. You are told at the end of the test if you have passed or not.
Once you have completed all the tests required you will be qualified as an HGV driver. But you will still need to carry out a few additional things to work as an HGV driver – a list of which can be found here.
Requalifying as an HGV driver
If you are looking to re-enter the industry and requalify as an HGV driver it is unlikely that you will need to complete the full qualification process again.
Here’s an overview of what you will need to do but for the full process to follow when requalifying as an HGV driver check the gov.uk website.
Check your licence
If it has expired, then you will need to renew your licence. You should also check the licence you have and the vehicles it allows you drive.
Bring your Driver CPC up to date
What you need to do and how long it will take to get your HGV licence depends on when you originally got your HGV licence
If you got an HGV licence before 10 September 2009
You can either:
- complete 35 hours of Driver CPC training by finding and taking training courses
- take and pass the Driver CPC part 2 (case studies) and the Driver CPC part 4 (practical demonstration) tests
If you got an HGV licence on or after 10 September 2009
You need to complete 35 hours of Driver CPC training by finding and taking training courses.
Once you have completed the required training and tests, you will be sent your new Driver CPC card. You’ll then need to carry out the necessary steps needed to work as an HGV driver.
How often do I need to renew my HGV driver licence?
To stay qualified you will need to renew you licence every 5 years.
If you are under 45 years old, then it should be case of completing the relevant form and updating your photo/name if necessary. If you are over 45 years old then you will also need to complete a form to apply to renew your licence and also complete a driver medical assessment.
If you are 65 or over then you will need to renew your HGV drivers licence every year.
You will also need to complete 35 hours of training every 5 years to keep your Driver CPC.
What changes are being made to the HGV licence testing process?
COVID-19 has unfortunately caused a slow down to the HGV licence testing process. Many test centres were closed during the lockdowns in the UK and capacity has been reduced due to social distancing and isolating requirements.
The government are now looking to make some changes to the HGV licence process to speed things up and help the haulage industry recruit much needed drivers.
From November 15, 2021, the following changes will be made
What you can learn to drive and take your driving test in
You currently must have your Category C licence before you can learn to drive and take a test in a Category CE vehicle.
The law is going to change so that you’ll be able to:
- learn to drive in an articulated lorry (Category CE) when you get your first provisional lorry licence from 15 November 2021 (if you already have a provisional licence, you’ll need to take extra steps to upgrade your provisional licence)
- take your test in a large articulated lorry (Category CE) without having to pass one in a large rigid lorry first
There are also changes being made to other categories of vehicle. For full details visit gov.uk.
Changes to the Driver CPC part 3 (driving ability) test
This will be split into 2 parts from the 15 November.
- Driver CPC part 3a (off-road exercises) test
- Driver CPC part 3b (on-road driving) test
Training organisations will be allowed to carry out part 3a of the test. Whilst the DVSA will continue to complete part 3b. It is hoped this will increase capacity for testing.
If you are looking for insurance for your HGV or lorry then talk to us at Anthony Jones. Our expert teams will take the time to understand your business and the risks you face so that they can provide you with the best possible advice and help you put the right insurance cover in place for your business. Talk to us today on 020 8290 9099 or email us at email@example.com.