The Question

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The DVSA's Answer

As discussed, our "generic" material on horseboxes in quotation marks below. This information can be found in the GV74 booklet Guide for Operators available on our website.

"The need for a goods vehicle operator licence

In the majority of cases, 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. However, generally, where a horsebox is used on an “amateur” basis, we would not normally consider that the vehicle is being used for hire or reward, where it is clear that the carriage of goods (in this case horses), is not with a view to making a profit. Therefore, although we must point out in all correspondence that existing regulations do not exempt private horseboxes from the requirements of operator licensing, we would not consider it to be in the public interest to take any action where nothing more than petrol money or modest prize money is involved.

Please note: where the user of a vehicle combines use of a HGV horsebox for both; the amateur purposes - described above - and a business, (e.g a farm, livery stables, dressage or any other related business), a goods vehicle operators licence will be required, irrespective of how infrequently the vehicle may be used in connection with that business.

"Modest prize money".

Unfortunately, "modest prize money" has never been formally defined or quantified for the purpose of goods vehicle operator licensing. Nevertheless, where it is clear that there is only the prospect of nominal winnings which are merely incidental to the amateur activity, then VOSA would not consider that an operator's licence would be required.

Where there is the likelihood of winning prize money is on a more regular basis (whether or not the activity is on an "amateur" basis) and any such success has attracted sponsorship - or any other form of corporate support - this may be construed as having a commercial element to it, where an operator's licence may be required (N.B. this may include the vehicle bearing the sponsors name - in return for the financial support received)
Transporting a friend's horse - in connection with amateur activity

VOSA will not take any action where it is clear that a friend's horse is being transported for nothing more than petrol money, purely to cover costs - and where it is evident that there is no commercial element involved in the transport.

Therefore, if you only use the horsebox for "amateur" activities (see above) i.e you do not charge for horse transportation, no operator's licence will be required.

Blacksmith /Vets

When transporting your horse to the vets or blacksmiths, an operator's licence will not be required - where it is clear the vehicle is for private use, not in connection with a business and where you are not transporting someone else's horse(s) for any form of payment.

Where it is clear that a goods vehicle operator's licence is required; -

If having read the above, you consider that you should apply for a goods vehicle operator's licence, these are the main types of licence:

Restricted goods vehicle operator’s licence

In cases where you use the horsebox to carry your own goods in connection with the business of a farm or estate, a restricted goods vehicle operator's licence will be required.

Standard goods vehicle operator’s licence

Where payment is received for the carriage of horses -
• a standard national goods vehicle operator's licence will be required (when staying in the United Kingdom),
• a standard international licence will be required for international carriage of horses. (Please note: on a restricted licence you are able to take your horsebox abroad, under the Treaty of Rome. However, (irrespective of the type of licence held) you may wish to contact the relevant embassies of the countries through which your are passing for details of their own legal requirements, before departure).

Please note: for a Standard National or International licence it will be necessary to have a suitably qualified Transport Manager, with the relevant Certificate of Professional Competence. For further details on this you should contact the OCR Examinations Board, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 5HS (Tel 02476 470033).

Driver CPC
Under Article 2 (f) of EU Directive 2003/59 -
"vehicles used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods, for personal use;" is identified as being among the exemptions. Therefore, drivers of horseboxes that are strictly for personal use, are exempt from this requirement.

Animal transport licence

(For definitive information on this, you should contact your local branch of DEFRA).

I should point out that this is in VOSA’s view and does not constitute legal opinion, as only a court of law can give a definitive interpretation of the legislation.

This is the general advice that we supply in relation to horseboxes and the need for an operator's licence - and other relevant information. If you have any further queries, do not hesitate to contact me".

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