Vehicle Operator Licence Applications – How Long Do They Take?

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Vehicle Operator Licence Applications – How Long Do They Take?

The Office of the Traffic Commissioner (“OTC”) has recently issued its latest performance statistics for the processing and granting of both HGV and PSV Operator Licence applications by its Central Licensing Unit. 

Due to market conditions, there has been an overall reduction in the number of applications being made and we suspect that this has contributed to the improved performance now being reported by the OTC. 

For the quarter ending 31 January 2024, it is reported HGV applications were taking on average just over 6 weeks to be granted (including any interim grant of a licence) and if the application required determination at a Public Inquiry, the process was taking, on average, just over 19 weeks.

During the same period, PSV applications were taking on average just over seven weeks to be granted and, if a Public Inquiry was required to determine grant, the lead time was over 16 weeks. 

Setting aside applications that end up at a Public Inquiry, the performance of the OTC in determining applications has vastly improved and indeed the latest quarter’s figures show that applications are being dealt with faster than at any other time in the published records. We suspect that this is helped by the fact that those making applications are increasingly familiar with the Vehicle Operator Licensing (VOL) online system for digital applications, so more applications are complete when first submitted. 

The OTC continues to stress that it is incredibly important that applicants read the applications forms thoroughly and supply all the correct supporting information the first time around. If they don’t, the OTC will write to the applicant requesting additional information/documentation and the application essentially goes to the bottom of the pile. 

Operators can try to identify for themselves whether any potential application is going to go through the process smoothly or might be delayed by checking their Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) and previous enforcement or Public Inquiry history it tends to be the case that where an operator is “red” for OCRS or has an open compliance event (such as an ongoing DVSA investigation), it is unlikely that the OTC will be able to grant any application until that matter has been resolved. 

In such circumstances, we would suggest commissioning an independent audit of your compliance systems before submitting any application and, if the audit is satisfactory, supplying a copy of the audit report with your application along with an explanation as to why you are “red” for OCRS and what you are doing to improve your rating.

Our Commercial Road Transport team completes and advises in connection with countless applications on behalf of our clients, some of which are being made in the most tricky and urgent of situations. Only last month, through a combination of our advice and engagement with the OTC, one of our clients was granted an interim licence within just two working days. 

Talk to us

If you would like specialist advice regarding making an operator licence application or a variation to an existing operator licence, please contact on 0345 872 6666 or fill in our online enquiry form to request a callback.

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