Driver CPC- What you need to know

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In 2003, a Directive was passed which required professional drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with nine seats or more to possess a certificate of professional competence (CPC) designed to improve the knowledge and skills of drivers throughout their working life.

There are two parts to the legislation:

  • An initial qualification to get the Driver CPC for new drivers along with their passing their truck or bus licence, to enable them to use their licence professionally.
  • A periodic training programme of 35 hours of training every 5 years for all professional drivers to keep the Driver CPC.

Farmers are being reminded that it is necessary for drivers of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with over 8 seats, to undertake at least 35 hours of continued professional competence (CPC) training.

This must be undertaken by 9th September 2013 for minibus drivers, and 9th September 2014 for lorry drivers. Driver CPC is a requirement for lorry and minibus drivers who drive professionally throughout the UK.

Driver CPC does not apply to those towing a livestock trailer behind a tractor or a 4x4, as these are driven on a different category of licence. It also does not apply to tractor or trailer.


You are exempt if the vehicle you drive:

  1. is carrying material or equipment to be used by the driver in the course of his or her work, provided that driving the vehicle is not the driver's principal activity
  2. is used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods, for personal use
  3. has a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 45 km/h
  4. is used by, or under the control of, the armed forces, civil defence, the fire service and forces responsible for maintaining public order
  5. is undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, or is a new or rebuilt vehicle which has not yet been put into service
  6. is used in states of emergency or assigned to rescue missions
  7. is used in the course of driving lessons for any person wishing to obtain a driving licence or a Driver CPC
  8. Vehicles driven within 50km of the drivers base and not carrying passengers and goods.

VOSA have asserted that the 'material or equipment' would have to be used by the farmer or farm worker as part of their job and so this exemption couldn't be used for taking goods or livestock etc to market.  Only a court would be able to give a definitive legal interpretation.

The NFU has called for greater clarity as to when the exemptions in the legislation apply to agriculture. The Driver Standards Agency has stated that there is no flexibility to offer blanket exemptions for agricultural activities, or issue any guidance specifically aimed at agriculture. Similarly the minister for the DfT has clarified that whether an exemption will apply or not depends upon the particular circumstances at the time.

The DSA have issued generic guidance which can be found here.

Existing drivers

If you passed your bus test before the 10th September 2008 or your truck test before the 10th September 2009, you are exempt from the initial qualification. This is known as "acquired rights".

All existing minibus drivers who hold a full valid category D, D1, D+E or D1+E will need to complete 35 hours of periodic training by 9th September 2013. All existing professional drivers who hold a full, valid category C, C1, C+E, or C1+E license (all over 3.5 tonnes) will need to complete 35 hours of periodic training by 9th September 2014. New drivers holding the above license categories will have to complete the 35 hours requirement within 5 years of the date of their initial training.

If you hold both D and C category licenses then you will only need to complete one course of 35 hours periodic training every five years, not 35 hours for each category. If you drive in both categories you must have completed your 35 hours by 9th September 2013 to continue driving D category (minibuses over 8 seats).

If you do not complete enough training before this date, you will have to take undertake 35 hours of periodic training before you continue to drive.

You must have a DQC card with at least 35 hours of periodic training on it after the deadline of 9th September 2014 (HGV) or 9th September 2013 (minibus) if you are driving commercially.

Periodic training

Driver CPC requires all professional bus and truck drivers to complete a minimum of 35 hours periodic training every five years (or before the cut off date for acquired rights and then every five years) for as long as they wish to continue to drive professionally.

The minimum length of a training course is seven hours. Where a course of seven hours is split into two parts the second part must start within 24 hours of the completion of the first part.

Only approved courses taken with approved training centres will count towards periodic training. The approval process for courses is managed on behalf of the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) by the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training (JAUPT).

A list of approved training centres can be found through on their website here.

The DSA will provide a central database to keep records of the periodic training completed by each driver. It will be the responsibility of the training centre to enter records onto the database.

The periodic training you take is designed to complement your work and be relevant to your every day job. Courses can include fuel efficient driving style training, defensive driving techniques, first aid, health and safety, driver s hours regulations and tachograph. Courses will also enable drivers to keep up to date with changing regulations. A training program should broadly cover:

  • Safe and fuel efficient driving
  • Legal requirements
  • Health and safety, service and logistics

We would advise all members who drive trucks and buses as part of their business activities to assess where they stand with regard to these exemptions and consider periodic training for their drivers before the first two deadlines of September 2013 and September 2014, to avoid the potential for breaches of legislation.

If you have drivers with the above category equivalent from other EU Member States, the last 7 hours of periodic training must be completed in the country of employment or residence i.e. the U.K.

NFU Mutual in conjunction with RAC can arrange training for groups of farmers at a reduced rate. The NFU has also secured a deal with RHA to enable individuals to obtain their member rate. Read more here.

New drivers

Anyone who passed their driving test for a minibus or coach (D1, D1+E, D, D+E licence) after the 10th September 2008 or their lorry driving test (C1, C1+E,C or C+E licence) after the 10th September 2009 must also pass the initial Driver CPC qualification to drive for a living.

In addition to the theory and practical test to get your driving licence, you will also need to pass a computer based and another shorter practical test to gain your initial Driver CPC qualification.

The computer based test uses case studies to test your knowledge and how you put it into practice through multiple choice questions or by clicking areas on photographs/images etc. The test will take 1½ hours to complete, it can be taken at the same time as the basic theory test and has a maximum score of 50. You need to get 40 to pass the bus test and 38 to pass the truck test.

Drivers who already hold a Driver CPC for one category of vehicle (i.e. bus or truck) and wish to obtain a Driver CPC for the other category, will need to take a conversion test rather than the full test, however they will still need to complete a full practical Driver CPC examination.

The Driver CPC practical test focuses on vehicle safety and lasts ½ hour. It covers the following topics:

  • Ability to load the vehicle with due regard for safety rules and proper vehicle use
  • Security of the vehicle and contents
  • Ability to prevent criminality and trafficking in illegal immigrants
  • Ability to assess emergency situations
  • Ability to prevent physical risk
  • Demonstrate your ability through a physical, walk round vehicle safety check
  • LGV tests may also use a piece of equipment which will allow you to demonstrate your ability to secure loads.

The test consists of 5 topic areas which cover the Driver CPC syllabus and in order to pass you need to score 15 out of a possible 20 points in each topic area (75%) and an overall score of 80%.

After you have passed your driving test and both parts of the initial Driver CPC qualification, the DVLA will send you a Driver Qualification Card (DQC). You must carry your DQC whilst driving and there will be penalties if you are found to be driving professionally without one.

Following this initial qualification, you need to complete 35 hours of training every five years to retain your Driver CPC, as detailed above.

Further information

Read our Q and A briefing here.

GOV.UK Driver CPC - The Basics

JAUPT Driver CPC Homepage

Last edited on: 09:09:2014

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  • Posted by: Eric StephensonPosted on: 08/05/2013 05:03:05

    Comment: Surely it is policy of the government to eliminate overburdening red tape, Whitehall gold plating of EU legislation, and impediments which stifle business and make us less competitive. Is this new requirement not a prime example of yet another over-the-top burden keeping expensive bureaucrats in employment.
    Once a year, for 40 years, we move worn plough parts, as general farm scrap, to a local scrap yard. This takes 2 hours per year. If we have to train for 35 hours, the end will not justify the means.
  • Posted by: Chris Ireland-JonesPosted on: 10/10/2013 18:32:46

    Comment: we run a 7.5 T lorry taking plants to flower shows, about 8 shows a year. we probably only drive the lorry for about 100 hours each year getting to these, but because we have staff changeovers different people do the driving. Four are currently able and insured to drive the vehicle. The goods carried are our own for sale, but putting 4 drivers through 35 hours of training for about 30 hours each a year of driving is crazy. What is the definition of a 'professional' driver ?
  • Posted by: Simon CasePosted on: 02/02/2014 18:18:45

    Comment: As a livestock farmer with one 11 tonne wagon used for moving stock between our own farms and to market the CPC rule seems ridiculous. It is clearly designed for professional drivers and so farmers should be exempt. We face putting 3 drivers through the training. Would the government prefer us to sell our wagon and use a pickup and trailer which would always be overweight?
  • Posted by: Paul StephensPosted on: 15/05/2014 06:51:41

    Comment: We have a 44 tonne lorry which is only used to pick up feed from a mill 12 miles away. Reading the conditions for exemption, I take it we are exempt because the driver is my chicken manager who "uses the materials in the course of his work" and the driving is not his principal activity, which is managing the chickens. The goods that he is collecting are not directly for sale.
    The problem is that everyone we speak to says that he has to do the extra training, but I cannot see why. Maybe ours will be the court case needed to clarify the situation!
  • Posted by: Andrew Heaton Posted on: 18/09/2014 21:53:41

    Comment: The CPC system doesn't make sense. There are 5 syllabuses covered in the CPC training, however I have just learnt you don't need to do 5 different modules to complete your 35hours of training. You can do one module 5 times to make up your 35hours. Now to me this is not structured training and makes a mockery of the whole concept of CPC training. So this has become apparent it is only a money making scheme from DVSA. Can someone please explain to me how a training provider can charge you £500 for all your modules. Pointless
  • Posted by: Pam HillardPosted on: 07/10/2014 10:06:36

    Comment: I drive a 110 Landrover & triple axles trailer, I do livestock haulage generally on one day of the week, the rest of the time it is purely for my own transport of my own stock.
    I need someone to clarify where I stand & if I need to take my CPC?
  • Posted by: Tony HarperPosted on: 06/01/2015 18:45:20

    Comment: it is just another government scam to fill the coffers .. hitting the driver in the pocket yet again . its all governments . i say everyone should boycott driving these vehicles. and see what happens then . why dont the government do the tests for free. dont think so . easy money for them. well you will vote the tories in . thats what you get . and they aint finished yet
  • Posted by: Jonathan TuttPosted on: 13/09/2015 23:25:50

    Comment: My login will be performed tomorrow and updates on my CPC training. Over chiuffedpresently tohave been offered this position and just want to get module one passed hopefully successfully by Wednesday, one day at a time. Plenty of listening must be done and soaking in the information. Website very easy to understand and great video footage for easier explanations and litigation superb, case study information harder to find, finding practicing the theory test and hazard perception over and over again easier now, just want to perform it under test conditions to get over using the nerves to concentrate better over and done with. Will login using drivers license tomorrow. Not doing a political statement tonight but thank you op - all I can say there is Ive been listening to Radio4 for too long, and the Farmer weekly half hour is always good, for points of view,havent heard and up roar anywhere for CPC 35 hour training and off the bat I think change and any almost, free training is positive. Laws passed in the commons are always debated to almost death and so far the queens outlived many, many parliamentary people. Just a thought, have to walk for the bus to work sooner than I thought now. TTFN JT.
  • Posted by: AndyPosted on: 01/02/2016 20:00:12

    Comment: Any commercial use if only 1 hr needs cpc driver
  • Posted by: Tim WalmsleyPosted on: 12/02/2016 15:39:28

    Comment: ive recently joined a company which has a class1 tipper trailer which I have never operated (other driver does this job at pres) if I was to do tipper training would this be considered as part of the CPC training and if so how many hours would it stand for.
  • Posted by: KennyPosted on: 20/03/2017 13:39:21

    Comment: I completed my 35 hours training for my cpc I also completed extra courses to help me for the next five years why are these invalid
  • Posted by: Geoffrey. Elmes Posted on: 29/08/2017 13:55:37

    Comment: I wish to retire in 2020 can i increase my cpc licence for just one year

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