So what is an operators license
The operator licensing system in Great Britain is administered by the statutorily independent Traffic Commissioners.
Classification of operator licenses – there are three license categories:-
1) Restricted Goods Vehicle License ( this is the most common license for caterers)
A Restricted (R) license authorises the use of a goods vehicle on public roads in Great Britain for the carriage of the license holder’s own goods in the course of their trade or business, both nationally and internationally. There is not presently a requirement for such an operator to employ a Certificate of Professional Competence (Operator CPC) holder. The license holder cannot carry goods for other people for hire or reward;
First vehicle £3100
Each additional vehicle £1700
2) Standard National Goods Vehicle License
A Standard National (S/N) license allows the license holder to carry both his/her own goods and goods for other people for hire or reward, on public roads in Great Britain. He/she can also carry their own goods on journeys abroad, but not others goods on international journeys. It is a requirement that this type of operator must employ an Operator CPC holder with national entitlement;
First vehicle £6200
Each additional vehicle £3400
3) Standard International Goods Vehicle License
A Standard International (S/I) license allows the license holder to carry both their own goods and goods for other people for hire or reward. These activities can be undertaken both in Great Britain and on international journeys. An International Operator CPC holder must be employed by the company.
First vehicle £6200
Each additional vehicle £3400
Goods Vehicle Operator Licensing Scale of Fees and Charges
Application Fee for a License (GV79) or for a Major (Publishable) Variation (GV81): £277.00
Fee Payable for the Issue of a License: £336.00
Charge for the Continuation of an Existing License: £336.00
Vehicle fees are charged for each vehicle specified by registration mark on a license. When an application for a new license is first granted, or before a license is continued, the operator can chose to pay the vehicle fees for 5 years in advance, or on an annual basis.
Applying for an ‘O’ License
Application is made centrally to the Traffic Area Office, in Leeds.
Applications should be submitted at least nine weeks prior to the required commencement date of the ‘O’ license.
Each Operator’s License is valid for life, but is subject to five yearly reviews. A license can only be terminated if the operator surrenders it, if he fails to pay the correct fees on time, or if it is revoked by the Traffic Commissioner.
Before an ‘O’ license is issued, the Traffic Commissioner must be satisfied that the applicant is a suitable person/company to hold an ‘O’ license.
The operating centre is defined as the location where the vehicle is normally kept. Full details of each operating centre, including number of vehicles and trailers to be authorised plus “off street” parking available, must be given.
If an operator keeps his vehicles at his customer’s premises, the customer’s premises would be the operating centre.
The Traffic Commissioner can refuse the use of an operating centre on road safety, parking and environmental grounds.
When applying for a standard operator’s license, one or more CPC holders will be required. (No CPC holder is required for a restricted operator’s license.)
Finally the applicant is required to sign a declaration that he will observe the regulations regarding drivers’ hours of work and records, overloading, maintenance and adequate finance, and inform the Traffic Commissioner of any changes or convictions affecting the license criteria.
Showman’s goods vehicles & trailers.
Showman’s goods vehicles are exempt from operator’s licensing, if they are classed as showman’s goods vehicles for the purposes of
paying vehicle excise duty.
This is because the exemption from the operator’s licensing system is linked by para 3(2) to part 1 to Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995, to the definition of showman’s goods vehicle in Section 62 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.
This is defined as a goods vehicle that is permanently fitted with a living van or some other special type of body or superstructure, forming part of the equipment of the show of the person whose name is registered under the 1994 Act.
It must also be a vehicle registered under the 1994 Act, in the name of the person following the business of a travelling showman and where he is the sole user of the vehicle, for the purposes of his business and for no other purpose.
According to the paragraph at the top of this page the Traffic commnisioners do not see any vehicle used for catering puposes or towing a catering trailer as being exempt, so if you have been getting awy with iyt you have been lucky, but you may not in the future
There are other exemptions but they are unlikely to apply to caterers, for more information see www.opsi.gov.uk