Restricted Operators Licences

With many types of licence available to businesses in the transportation industry there can be confusion about what licence type is the most relevant to a business. Here we focus on Restricted Operators Licences.

What is a Restricted Operators Licence?

Smart Tachograph - what you need to knowRestricted Operators Licence (ROL) allows a licence holder to carry their own goods, but not the goods of other people within and between the UK and the European Union.

The ROL was created to allow drivers to carry goods that they own and products that they have manufactured or equipment that they intend to hire and is relatively easy to apply for. It is crucial to remember that this type of licence does not allow a driver to carry goods for delivery that they do not own or for goods intended for hire or reward – this is strictly prohibited.

Tightly controlled by the Office for the Traffic Commissioner, Restricted Operators Licences are often applied for by businesses that do not have to have their own Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualified transport manager. These are typically smaller businesses that are engaged in the transportation of goods such as scaffolding and skip hire.

An attraction of the ROL licence is that less cash resources are needed to prove financial stability in the application process. However, it should be remembered that a business must still keep up to date with all compliance and training despite the slightly relaxed ROL criteria.

How to apply for a Restricted Operators Licence

The application for a Restricted Operators Licence must be made either via the GOV.UK website or by post. The decision can take 7 weeks if the application is made online or up to 9 weeks if it is made by post. The web address is

There are a number of conditions that must be adhered to when applying for a Restricted Operators Licence. The applicant will need to:

  • Pay a fee
  • Advertise their application for a licence
  • Advertise their proposed operating centre(s) – where the vehicles will be kept when not in use
  • Designate a transport manager if applying for a standard licence
  • Provide information about their financial situation
  • Draw up a maintenance contract with a garage or agent to carry out safety inspections and vehicle repairs if they don’t do this themselves

Interim licences are available if a licence is required urgently until a full licence has been issued, however the Traffic Commissioner will only consider interim licence applications upon receipt of a complete application for an operator’s licence.

What are the conditions that I need to meet?

As mentioned before, ROLs are strictly controlled by the Office for the Traffic Commissioner. There are a number of conditions that must be adhered to in order to ensure that your licence is not revoked. A ROL will remain valid as long as you pay your continuation fee every 5 years and operate within the terms of the licence. Licence holders will be contacted every 5 years to ensure that the licence shows the correct information.

Trucks must be well maintained – it is a good idea to have a forward planner to schedule the preventative maintenance inspections (PMIs) required for each vehicle, MOTs and roller brake testing. This is to ensure that vehicles operate effectively and efficiently.

Drivers must keep to their driver hours, must be professionally trained, and must drive your vehicles legally and within the scope of their licence. Drivers’ eyesight must be tested regularly to ensure it is adequate.

As the ROL holder you must have an adequate system in place to carry out disciplinary procedures in case you are faced with any infringements.

If there are any changes to your business or if your drivers receive any convictions, you must inform the Traffic Commissioner.

Don’t forget that if you neglect to ensure these conditions are met you could be called to a Public Inquiry before the Traffic Commissioner where you risk losing your licence. It only takes a tired driver or an ill-maintained truck killing or injuring someone to send the licence holder to prison.

Points to consider

As with all licences it pays to be organised and to make sure that you know that you are complying with the terms set out when your licence was granted. It is much easier to manage a transport operation if systems are not only set up but are properly implemented.

Could you outsource your tachograph analysis? Many companies exist that will carefully analyse your drivers’ cards and vehicle unit information for you. You will receive accurate records covering driver hours and working time directive compliance and will have a lot less hassle in the office.

Even though the law does not require you to have a designated Transport Manager under the rules for a ROL, it is worth considering appointing one. This person wouldn’t be designated on the licence and wouldn’t need to be fully CPC trained but they would be required to have a working knowledge of rules and regulations to ensure that they can competently oversee your operations.

As mentioned before, you should keep your forward planner up to date. Make sure that your vehicles are sent to their PMIs, MOTs etc and keep a close eye on the defect inspections that your drivers should complete on a daily basis. Faults and any necessary rectifications must be recorded properly. As the licence holder you are responsible for ensuring that the licence obligations are met – good records could save your licence.