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Does my business require an operators licence?

The Question

Having spoken to your colleague ******* I am writing to find out your requirements for the activity we are planning in 2010, I have been asking lots of questions and looked long and hard on your website to make sure we adhere to the rules and have hit, what seems to be, a grey area and so would appreciate some guidance and a confirmation on what we do or do not need to do for next year.

We are an events company and during 2009 we have on occasions hired 4x4 vehicles to tow hospitality units for our client. The units do not contain ‘goods’ and they are not used for selling any products or services. They are literally sited at an event and are then opened up to invite people to enter and see branded information on the company’s products and services and are offered a tea or coffee etc (not sold).

The units’ weights range from 2 to 3 tonnes and as I mentioned have been towed until now using 4 x4’s. I would like to clarify the following points:

• Do a vehicle + a unit need to be tacho’d?
• Is it permissible to use a 4 x 4 to tow these types of units?
• Do we require an operator’s licence to offer this service to our clients is using hire vehicles?
• If we were to purchase a vehicle (either 4 x 4 or 7.5T truck) would we need an operators licence?

Your guidance at your earliest convenience would be much appreciated.



The DVSA's Answer

I refer to your e – mail of 15 December, concerning the above. Please accept my apologies for the considerable delay in replying. I will answer your questions in turn:

• Do a vehicle + a unit need to be tacho’d? Where the maximum permissible weight (including any trailer or semi - trailer) exceeds 3.5 tonnes, (in our view) a tachograph would be required. ("Maximum Permissible Weight" can be taken to mean the sum of the maximum permissible gross weights of towing vehicle and trailer being towed or the maximum permissible train weight of the towing vehicle - whichever is the lesser).

• Is it permissible to use a 4 x 4 to tow these types of units? Yes - within the maximum permittd towing weight of the vehicle.
• Do we require an operator’s licence to offer this service to our clients is using hire vehicles? Under Schedule 3 (2) of the goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995 "a dual purpose vehicle and any trailer drawn by it" is identified as exempt from goods vehicle operator licensing. Examples include Range Rovers, Land Rovers, Jeeps, certain Japanese vehicles and those designed to go over rough ground as well as on roads, not being track laying vehicles
• If we were to purchase a vehicle (either 4 x 4 or 7.5T truck) would we need an operators licence? 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. Therefore, where you use a goods vehicle - not being a dual purpose vehicle (see above) - an operator's licence would be required.

I should point out that this is in VOSA’s view and does not constitute legal opinion.

I hope that the information given above has been of some help. If you have any further queries, do not hesitate to contact me. Once again, please accept my apologies for the delay in sending a full reply.

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