Backhouse Jones Watermark

Beware! It’s much more than a form-filling exercise – O-Licence application and variation

12 November

Need to apply for or vary an operating licence? Our specialist team undertakes many applications and variations every week and can do this for a fixed fee. Let us take you through what to expect and some of the things that can go wrong.

All operators (with some exceptions) require an Operator’s Licence to be able to operate HGV and PSV vehicles.

You may find yourself needing to make an application for an HGV or PSV Operator’s Licence, whether it be an application for a new licence or to vary your existing licence. Any major changes to your licence such as an increase in vehicles or trailers and changes to any operating centres will also require an application to be made.

There are a number of common obstacles that you may encounter, which could delay or jeopardise you getting the licence at all.

Common Obstacles

Financial Standing – Where do you stand?

The law requires an operator to be of the appropriate financial standing. Operators who fail to meet the financial standing requirements risk having their Operator’s Licence revoked by the Traffic Commissioner.

The availability of finance is a continuing obligation throughout the lifetime of the Operator’s Licence.  It will be specifically checked at the application stage (for new licences or variations to existing licences), the five-yearly renewal/continuation of the Operator’s Licence or if an operator is called to Public Inquiry – but can be checked at any time.

We are seeing an increasing number of operators who are failing to satisfy the financial standing requirements or who simply do not appreciate how financial standing is assessed and/or the sources of funds that will be acceptable.

The 2020 financial standing figures are as follows: 

Licence Type Goods Vehicles Public Service Vehicles
Standard First vehicle £8,000 £8,000
Each additional vehicle thereafter £4,450 £4,450
Restricted First vehicle £3,100 £3,100
Each additional vehicle thereafter £1,700 £1,700


For £99 +VAT per entity, we will calculate your financial standing.

Opposition and Environmental Issues – If your application attracts statutory objection, this could delay the application process. Representations and objections can only be valid in certain circumstances and the criteria is limited in this regard.  Applicants are usually required to provide information further about the site.  A solution then needs to be found which satisfies all parties. The same applies to sites where there have been previous environmental issues.

Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited Company – Quite a common issue for applicants of new Operator’s Licences, but for existing licence holders as well, is operating under the wrong entity. This commonly occurs where a sole trader or partnership incorporates into a limited company but does not make an application for a new licence and continues to operate under the existing sole trader or partnership licence.

Administrations & Liquidations – Applications made as a result of an Administration or a Pre-Pack can be more complicated. This typically occurs when a company – which is the holder of an Operator’s Licence – enters Administration and sets up a new company with either identical directors and shareholders, or common links and then makes an application for a new Operator’s Licence in the name of the new company. These are sometimes referred to as “phoenix companies”.

Some other key issues – Some other key issues are any previous licence and/or financial history, issues with the proposed transport manager and their working hours, lost repute and PMI frequencies.

Where can I get help?

We have a team dedicated to advising operators and preparing and making licence applications on their behalf. They understand the Operator’s Licencing regime and the expectations of the Traffic Commissioner.   Our team does this day in and day out and therefore has a wealth of experience to pre-empt and solve issues early and to make the process as smooth as possible and take the stress off the operator, so please feel free to give us a call for a no obligation chat about your business.

For all enquiries please contact our office on 01254 828 300 or email

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