Bus and Coach Operator Licencing Fees
Information for Bus and Coach Operators on the latest fees, regulations that need to pay and apply for during the registration process.
Vehicles outside Operator Licence Requirements
How will I know if my vehicle is exempt?
An outline explanation of each exemption from the Operator licensing scheme has been provided underneath selected definitions below, where clarification is often required. Most goods vehicles with a gross plated weight of over 3.5 tonnes or, if there is no plated weight, an unladen weight of over 1525 kg require a goods vehicle operator’s licence, if they are used to carry goods or burden of any description in connection with a trade or business, or for hire or reward. The requirement also applies to vehicles used for infrequent periods - such as one day. If the relevant exemption(s) explained here are not applicable to you, then it is likely you will need an Operators licence - you are advised to contact the Enquiry Number (0300 123 9000) and request a starter pack so that you may apply for one.
Please note - We are unable to give legal advice and it should be noted that the information given below does not constitute legal opinion. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) is NOT able to provide letters or certificates of exemption from goods vehicle operator’s licensing. The use of a particular vehicle is either exempt under the Regulations or it is not; and the decision on whether or not a licence is required is ultimately for the courts to decide. If, on reading the information outlined below, you are still unsure you should contact the Enquiry Unit on 0300 123 9000 and in certain cases, you may wish to consider engaging your own private legal advice before proceeding further.
Most of the exemptions are outlined below in a simplified summary format. For definitive information you should consult Schedule 3 to the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 (S/I number 1995/2869).
The Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995
Exemptions under current regulations
The exemptions under current Regulations are as follows: -
Vehicles first used before 1977 which have an unladen weight not exceeding 1525kg and for which the maximum gross plated weight is between 3500kgs and 3556.21kgs (3.5 tons);
Motor vehicles & their trailers using public roads for less than 9.654kms (6 miles) a week, whilst moving between private premises;
Vehicles being used under a trade licence - NB:This is a vehicle being used on trade plates. Please note: vehicles on trade plates should only be kept in the vehicle dealer’s "temporary" possession when used in this way. In England, Scotland and Wales, we go by the DVLA’s guidance for this - which is a period of three months. In our view, if the vehicle is kept in possession for longer than this it should be both registered and used on an operator’s licence.
Vehicles constructed, or adapted, primarily for carrying passengers & their effects while being used for that purpose, and any trailer drawn;
Vehicles used by, or under the control of, Her Majesty’s United Kingdom forces and visiting forces vehicles;
Vehicles being used by local authorities for Civil Defence purposes, or to carry out their functions in respect of certain enactments;
Vehicles being used for police, fire or ambulance purposes;
Fire-fighting & rescue vehicles used in mines;
RNLI & Coastguard vehicles when used for transporting lifeboats, appliances or crew;
Vehicles being held ready for use in emergencies by water, electricity, gas & telephone undertakings;
Tractors, including agricultural tractors, used in certain circumstances - NB: This exemption applies to any tractor as defined in paragraph 4(3) of Part IV of Schedule 1 Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 while being used for one or more of the purposes in Part II of Schedule 3 to the 1995 Regulations (see link above). Part II of the Schedule goes on to outline these uses (see below); In our view, all uses other than those outlined below, would require an operator’s licence.
(a) threshing appliances,
(b) farming implements.
2. Hauling articles for a farm required by the keeper, being either the occupier of the farm or a contractor employed to do agricultural work on the farm by the occupier of the farm.
3. Hauling articles for a forestry estate required by the keeper where the keeper is the occupier of that estate or employed to do forestry work on the estate by the occupier or a contractor employed to do forestry work on the estate by the occupier.
4. Hauling within 24.135 kilometres (15 miles), of a farm or forestry estate occupied by the keeper, agricultural or woodland produce of the farm or estate.
5. Hauling within 24.125 kilometres, (15 miles), of a farm or a forrestry estate occupied by the keeper material to be spread on roads to deal with frost, ice or snow.
(a) soil for landscaping or similar works.”
Vehicles being used to carry goods within aerodromes;
Vehicles being used for funerals;
Uncompleted vehicles on test or trial;
“A vehicle which is being used for snow clearing, or for the distribution of grit, salt or other materials on frosted, icebound or snow covered roads or for going to or from the place where it is to be used for the said purposes or for any other purpose directly connected with those purposes”. This is how this type of vehicle is identified in the Regulations. If this is applicable to the intended use of the vehicle, (and it will be used for that and no other purpose), the exemption should apply.
Vehicles on their way to a Department of Transport examination being presented laden at the request of an examiner;
Electric and steam propelled vehicles; (“Electrically propelled vehicle” is described in the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 as “a vehicle is not an electrically propelled vehicle unless the electrical motive power is derived from:
(a) a source external to the vehicle, or
(b) an electrical storage battery which is not connected to any source of power when the vehicle is in motion”.
Therefore, some “diesel - electric” vehicles are not likely to fit the exemption and may require an operator’s licence).
Recovery vehicles. Paragraph 3 of the Good Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 states that a recovery vehicle has the same meaning as in Part V of Schedule 1 to the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 (i.e a vehicle which is constructed or permanently adapted for any one or more of the purposes of lifting, towing and transporting a disabled vehicle). Therefore, if the vehicle is not going to be used exclusively for recovering disabled vehicles from the roadside, an operator’s licence will be required. (Please note: as it is likely that vehicles will be transported for a third party, if a licence is required, you would be advised to hold at least a standard national licence).
“A vehicle fitted with a machine, appliance, apparatus or other contrivance which is a permanent or essentially permanent fixture, provided that the only goods carried on the vehicle are:
(a) required for use in connection with the machine, appliance, apparatus or contrivance or the running of the vehicle;”
(b) to be mixed by the machine, appliance, apparatus or contrivance with other goods not carried on the vehicle on a road in order to thrash, grade, clean or chemically treat grain;
(c) to be mixed by the machine, appliance, apparatus or contrivance with other goods not carried on the vehicle in order to make fodder for animals; or mud or other matter swept up from the surface of a road by the use of the machine, appliance, apparatus or other contrivance”.
PLEASE NOTE: The “fixed equipment” exemption relates to vehicles that have equipment that is a permanent or essentially permanent fixture (e.g. a winch or generator) where any other goods carried must be strictly for use in connection with that fixed equipment (e.g. essential tools or equipment, without which that fixture would be unable to function). IMPORTANT: Under current legislation mobile exhibition vehicles, catering vehicles, vehicles with an auger fitted for laying telegraph poles (where the poles are carried on the vehicle), mobile shops and mobile medical screening vehicles are NOT exempt from operator licensing (if they are over 3.5 tonnes gross plated weight), nor are vehicles that do have fixed equipment - but carry goods or burden that is not strictly for use in connection with that equipment, or tow a trailer that is carrying goods or burden. Examples of types of vehicles that may be exempt under the above are *gully sucking vehicles, vehicles with water jetting / shot blasting equipment, cherry pickers (these may also be classed as “tower wagons” (see below)) and road sweepers.
Tower wagons* & trailers which are carrying goods related to the work of the tower wagons;
Dual purpose vehicles (eg Land Rovers) & their trailers. Includes Range Rovers, Jeeps, certain Japanese vehicles and those designed to go over rough ground as well as on roads. NOTE: All dual purpose vehicles must not exceed 2040 kg in unladen weight.
Trailers whose primary purpose is not to carry goods but do so incidentally in connection with construction, maintenance or repair of roads;
Road rollers & trailers;
Showman’s goods vehicles & trailers. Showman’s goods vehicles are exempt from operator’s licensing, if they are classed as showman’s goods vehicles for the purposes of paying vehicle excise duty. This is because the exemption from the operator’s licensing system is linked by para 3(2) to part 1 to Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, to the definition of showman’s goods vehicle in Section 62 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994. This is defined as a goods vehicle that is permanently fitted with a living van or some other special type of body or superstructure, forming part of the equipment of the show of the person whose name is registered under the 1994 Act. It must also be a vehicle registered under the 1994 Act, in the name of the person following the business of a travelling showman and where he is the sole user of the vehicle, for the purposes of his business and for no other purpose.
Vehicles being used for international haulage by operators established in other EU Member States;
Vehicles being used for international haulage by operators established in Northern Ireland; and,
Vehicles being used under the provisions of the Goods Vehicles (Operators Licences) (Temporary Use in Great Britain) Regulations 1980. These Regulations include provision for the use in Great Britain of Northern Ireland Vehicles, which have an operating centre in Northern Ireland, provided that certain conditions are met. Own account and hire and reward operations are covered.
*It is also worth knowing that, when towing a trailer behind a vehicle that is around - or slightly below - 3.5 tonnes gross plated weight (e.g Ford Transit/Mercedes Sprinter sized vehicles), if the combined gross plated weights of drawing vehicle and trailer do not exceed 3.5 tonnes or (where there is no gross plated weight) the total unladen weights do not exceed 1,525 kgs, an operators licence will not be required. Please note that any trailer with an unladen weight of less than 1,020 KGs, need not be taken in to account in this calculation.