Right Driver

Getting a heavy vehicle driving licence in the UK

You have to apply for the correct provisional entitlements if you want to become a lorry or coach driver. If you wish to drive a lorry or a coach as a profession you’ll have to complete the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) and get a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) that you need to carry with you while driving.

Note: Lorries are called Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) and coaches are called Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCVs) in licensing terms.

Steps in getting a LGV or PCV licence

Below are the steps and the course of actions you’ll need to do for each step to get a LGV or a PCV driving licence

1. Application requirements

  • You must be over 18 years old
  • You must hold a full car driving licence of category B

2. Applying for a LGV or PCV driving licence

  • Complete the D2 and D4 forms (click here for D4 guidelines)
  • Send the D2, D4, and your driver licence to DVLA
  • Include the D740 form if you hold a photocard licence
  • Include original identity documents together with a passport-style colour photo if you hold a paper licence

Note: You can usually get your driver licence within 3 weeks after the DVLA has received your application.

3. Driving theory test

The driver theory test for bus and lorry is divided into 2 parts

  • multiple choice
  • hazard perception test

You have to pass both within 2 years of each other to obtain your theory test certificate. You can book for the test online.

After passing both the multiple choice and hazard perception tests you will then get your theory test certificate including your theory test number on it which is a requirement to book for a practical driving test.

4. Practical driving test

The practical driving test (book online) is a 90-minute test which includes the following categories:

  • vehicle safety questions
  • practical road driving
  • off-road exercises

Vehicle safety question

Vehicle safety questions will be asked during your practical driving test for buses and lorries, and for buses and lorries with trailers.

Practical road driving

During the practical road driving there will be a 10-minute independent driving to assess your ability to make decisions on your own and drive safely. The examiner will also check on you in the following aspects:

  • braking test
  • use of mirrors
  • vehicle controls
  • driving in uphill and downhill
  • use of correct signals
  • awareness and anticipation of other road users’ intentions
  • choosing a safe place to stop
  • dealing with hazards
  • controlling speed and managing progress

Off-road exercises

The off-road exercise consists of:

  • ‘S’ shaped reverse into a bay and
  • uncoupling and recoupling procedure (if testing with trailer)

The test result

After taking the practical test the examiner will declare if you passed or failed, and will also explain how you did in the test.

Vehicle qualifications for C, C1, C+E, and C1+E tests – Lorries

Lorries and coaches should meet certain qualifications (subject to change on November 15, 2013) for the practical driving test to proceed.

For lorries the vehicle must:
  • be capable of reaching 50mph
  • be equipped with a tachograph
  • be equipped (excluding the trailer) with an anti-lock braking system (ABS)
  • have externally mounted offside and nearside mirrors for both the driver and the examiner
  • have seats with seatbelts for the examiner or the person that will supervise the test
  • have an enclosed box construction at least as wide and as high as the towing vehicle (applicable for cargo compartment trailers)

Note: A tractor unit will not be allowed for a category C or C1 test. The trailer could be a bit less in width than the towing vehicle only if it is equipped with external mirrors.

C1 and C1+E – Medium-sized lorries

Category C1 vehicle:

  • minimum of 5 metres in length
  • maximum authorised mass (MAM) of at least 4 tonnes
  • have an enclosed box construction at least as wide and as high as the towing vehicle

Note: MAM or also know as ‘gross vehicle weight’ is the maximum weight of the vehicle with the maximum load that it could carry safely while being driven in the road.

2 types of category C1+E vehicle:

  • medium-sized articulated lorry with a length combination of at least 8 metres and a MAM of at least 6 tonnes
  • a combination of a category C1 vehicle towing a trailer with a MAM of at least 2 tonnes and a length combination of at least 8 metres.
C and C+E – large goods lorries

Category C vehicles:

  • minimum length of 8 metres
  • minimum width of 2.4 metres
  • MAM of at least 12 tonnes
  • at least 8 forward gearbox ratios
  • have an enclosed box construction at least as wide and as high as the towing vehicle

2 types of category C+E vehicle:

  • articulated lorry with a minimum and maximum length of 14 to 16.5 metres and a MAM of at least 20 tonnes
  • a combination of a category C vehicle towing a trailer with a MAM of 20 tonnes and a length combination of at least 14 metres with at least 7.5 metres from coupling eye to the extreme rear

Vehicle qualifications for D, D1, D+E, and D1+E tests – Buses and coaches

For buses and coaches the vehicle must:
  • be capable of reaching 50mph
  • be equipped with a tachograph
  • be equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS)
  • have externally mounted offside and nearside mirrors with correctly aligned mirrors for use of the examiner
  • have seats with seatbelts for the examiner or the person that will supervise the test

Note: Prison vans and stretch limousines on a lorry chassis won’t be allowed for category D test

Sub-category D1 and D1+E – Minibuses

Category D1 – Minibuses

  • at least 5 metres in length
  • between 9-16 passenger seats
  • MAM of at least 4 tonnes

Category D1+E – D1 vehicles towing a closed box trailer

  • at least 2 metres in height and width
  • MAM of at least 1.25 tonnes
Category D and D+E – Buses and coaches

Category D – Buses and coaches

  • at least 10 metres in length
  • at least 2.4 metres in width
  • more than 8 passenger seats

Category D+E – D vehicles towing a closed box trailer

  • at least 2 metres in height and width
  • MAM of at least 1.25 tonnes

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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Posted in Advice, Car, Heavy Vehicle, Passenger Vehicle

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