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How to Become an HGV Driver

Mar 4, 2021

If you are a would-be owner operator, getting started as an HGV driver or thinking of changing career to become an HGV driver then there are a number steps you will need to take to help you get started.

Get the right qualifications

The first thing you will need to do when getting started on becoming an HGV driver is to get the right qualifications and licences.

 In order to drive an HGV (a lorry, bus or coach) you will need to

  • have a full car licence
  • be over 18
  • obtain the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) which is a professional driving qualification

How do you gain your driver CPC?

A full drivers CPC is a requirement if you drive a lorry, bus or coach as your main job. The first step to gaining your driver CPC is applying for your provisional HGV licence. Which licence you need to apply for depends on the type of vehicle you want to drive.

What provisional lorry or bus licence do I need?

A Category C licence, also known as a class 2 HGV licence, will enable you to drive vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg MAM)

A Category CE licence, also known as a class 1 HGV licence, will enable you to drive category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.

For a full list of vehicles and the licence required to drive them refer to the gov.uk site.

Once you know which licence you require, you will need to order 2 forms from the DVLA – the D2 and D4 forms. The D4 form will need to be completed by doctor. And you may need an optician to complete the section relating to your eyesight.

How to Complete your Driver CPC

Getting your Driver CPC typically involves passing 4 tests. You may have existing driving experience which means you do not need to complete all 4 tests – check the ‘acquired rights’ guidance to find out if this applies to you.

The four tests of the CPC are

Part 1: Theory test  – the theory test involves 2 parts – multiple choice and hazard perception. These two parts of the theory test must be completed within 2 years of each other to gain your theory test certificate

Part 2: Case studies – You will be presented with 7 case studies in the test and asked multiple choice questions about the information you are given. This part of the test can be taken at any point after you gain your provisional licence. You also don’t have to have completed the theory test from part 1 before completing the case studies element.

Part 3: Driving ability – Lasting around one and a half hours, the driving ability test will assess your vehicle safety knowledge, your practical road driving and your ability to complete some off road exercises. You must pass part 1 of the CPC before you can book part 3.

Part 4: Practical demonstration – this practical demonstration test is made up of 5 topics from the Driver CPC syllabus, testing you on areas such as the ability to load your vehicle following safety rules, assessing emergency situations and reducing physical risks to yourself and others. You must complete part 2 of the CPC before you can book part 4. 

Once you complete your CPC you will be sent a Driver CPC card. You must carry this with you whilst driving your vehicle professionally.

Keep your Driver CPC up to date

To keep your Driver CPC up to date and to remain qualified you will need to

  • complete 35 hours of Driver CPC training every 5 years
  • renew your lorry or bus licence every 5 years (this must be done every year if you are over 65).

Driving professionally once you are qualified

Once you are qualified you can start to drive professionally. You can either set up on your own as an owner operator, or work for an existing company as an HGV driver.

There are a range of lorry and HGV driver jobs available, from local driving jobs through to short and long-haul jobs. Exactly how much you can earn as an HGV driver will depend on a number of factors such as the type of licence you hold, your experience, the type of jobs you carry out and the goods you transport.

With HGV driver shortages having been an issue for a number of years, now may be a good time to enter the industry.

Know the rules which apply to HGV drivers

Whether you work for a company or set up on your own as an owner operator, you will need to ensure that you comply with all rules relating to being an HGV driver.

Key areas to be aware of include:

HGV driver hours

There are strict regulations around HGV driver hours in the UK.

These relate to areas such as

  • Maximum hours an HGV driver can work in a day and week
  • Break schedules
  • Rest periods

There are also rules for HGV drivers when it comes to driving at night that you must be aware of if you plan to drive later in the day.

HGV driver medicals

All HGV drivers in the UK are required to undergo a medical to assess whether they are fit to drive a heavy goods vehicle.

You must complete the D4 form when you first apply for your provisional HGV licence. You must then complete a further HGV driver medical

  • If you are applying to renew your Group 2 licence at age 45
  • From age 45, a D4 form will need to be completed every 5 years. This is until you reach 65 and then a D4 form is required annually

Full details on when you must complete a D4 form can be found in this government guidance.

Maintaining your vehicle

As a driver or vehicle operator you have a duty to ensure that your vehicle is both safe to drive and road worthy. So, if you are planning to become an HGV driver this is something you will need to stay on top of, in particular carrying out the right daily HGV checks before each journey.

HGV insurance

You will require the right insurance if you are an HGV driver. If you work for an existing business this will most likely be set up for you and covered under the company’s fleet insurance. But if you are going out on your own as an owner operator you will need to ensure that you have the right HGV insurance to cover the range of risks that your business faces.


If your job as an HGV driver will see you driving from the UK to the EU, then you will need to be aware of the impacts that Brexit may have on how hauliers carry out their day-to-day jobs. You also need to be aware of COVID-19 testing requirements and make sure you follow all of the most up to date advice before travelling to the border.

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  commercial.motor@anthonyjones.com.

Get a Quote

You can call us during normal office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Outside of office hours you can either email us or leave an answerphone message and we promise to get back to you the next working day.

General enquiries:
020 8290 4560

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