How to move goods by road

Licences for international road transport


If you are using couriers or hauliers, you don't need to apply for any licences to transport your goods by road. However, you should make sure that anyone transporting goods for you is properly licensed.

Anyone operating a goods vehicle must have an operator's licence - sometimes referred to as an 'O Licence'. These are required for any vehicle with a gross plated weight of more than 3.5 tonnes. Drivers who transport dangerous goods need to hold an ADR training certificate, unless they are transporting small loads.

Three kinds of operator's licence are available, and you should make sure that hauliers you use have the appropriate licence for your needs. The three categories are:

  • restricted - the licence holder can carry their own goods within the UK
  • standard national - the holder can carry both their own goods and goods for others within the UK
  • standard international - the holder can carry their own goods and goods for others both in the UK and on international journeys

For international trade, you need to ensure that your operator has a standard international licence. If you are using your own vehicles to begin a journey in the UK, special licensing arrangements allow you to drive larger vehicles without having to hold a higher large-goods vehicle driving licence entitlement. When driving larger vehicles, the maximum weight of the vehicle plus its load determines the driving licence the driver needs.

Bear in mind that there's a wide range of other regulations and requirements that road hauliers must comply with. These include rules on the numbers of hours that drivers are permitted to work. For example, all goods vehicles must be fitted with a tachograph to monitor drivers' working hours.