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Overview of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) requirements

Home > News > Overview of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) requirements

European legislation requiring a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification in addition to a driving licence applies to new drivers acquiring a PCV licence from September 2008 and for drivers acquiring an LGV licence from September 2009. Those who held a vocational licence on these dates have acquired rights for the initial qualification, however, all drivers must complete 35 hours periodic cpc course training every five years.

Drivers employed or used by undertakings established in a member state which use goods vehicles in categories, C1, C1+E, C or C+E are in scope, together with drivers of passenger vehicles in categories D1, D1+E, D or D+E. Pre-1990 licences with equivalent categories (such as HGV1) are also included, as are those driving vehicles on C1 entitlements obtained by passing a car test before 1997.

The legislation applies to the activity of driving the in-scope vehicles, so people who hold vocational entitlement but who do not actually drive those vehicles will not come into scope. Drivers of vehicles which may be driven on a category B licence are also out of scope

Summary of differences between initial and periodic drive CPC

Initial Driver CPC Periodic Driver CPC
Who? New drivers only. All drivers.
How? By test. By attendance.
What? Entire syllabus. Related to syllabus.
When? Once at start of career. Every five years throughout career.

The initial Driver CPC

The initial Driver CPC is the only one which involves a compulsory test, and applies to new drivers who obtain their vocational driving licence after 10 September 2009 (LGV drivers) or 10 September 2008 (PCV drivers). Drivers who already hold a vocational driving licence on the relevant dates have acquired rights – so did not have to take the initial test.

The initial qualification takes the form of additional modules that, for most drivers, will be taken along with their driver licence acquisition tests. The initial qualification tests cover the entire syllabus contained in the European directive and is only required once at the start of a driver’s career. Drivers who have a vocational driving licence and a Driver CPC can drive a lorry from the age of 18 years.

The periodic Driver CPC

The periodic Driver CPC is obtained by attending at least 35 hours of approved cpc training within every five year period of driving careers. There is no compulsory test element to this cpc training, so drivers cannot ‘fail’ periodic Driver CPC. The first five-year periods run from the following dates.

  • Existing acquired rights drivers – within five years from the date of last completion.
  • New drivers – from the date they obtain their initial Driver CPC.

The 35 hours can be taken at any time within the five year period or spread throughout it. The Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training (JAUPT) approves training providers and their courses. Courses must be at least seven hours’ long (excluding breaks) and during this time drivers must have direct contact with an instructor. However, there is no need to cover the entire syllabus and the cpc course training can take place in any setting which is suitable – classroom, cab, yard or workplace. This means there is considerable flexibility in relation to the subjects that can be covered and when and where they are delivered.

Drivers who complete their 35 hours of periodic training prior to the fifth year of the training cycle will have the DQC issued within the fifth year, on the anniversary of the completion of the periodic training. Once this card has been issued, it may be used immediately, and the old card does not have to be carried in addition to the new one.

If a driver does not complete the required 35 hours of approved cpc training modules within the allotted timeframe then they will not be able to drive a vehicle in scope of the CPC requirements until the training is completed.

Any approved training recorded to date will still count towards the 35 hours, however it must be noted that EU regulations require the training to be completed within a five-year window. This means that if a driver takes the final section of the training on a particular date, they must look back to the dates of previous courses to make sure they all fall within the five-year window. Any course(s) that took place over five years previously will not count and further course(s) will be required.

Acquired rights drivers returning to the industry

Drivers with acquired rights who wish to re-enter the industry can either undertake the 35 hours of periodic training or, to obtain their first DQC only, take modules 2 and 4 of the vocational licence acquisition test. These modules are the case study and the practical test for the initial Driver CPC. Please note that the choice to take modules 2 and 4 are to obtain the first DQC only and cannot be repeated for subsequent DQCs, the driver must continue by undertaking 35 hours of periodic training every five years.

The training record and driver qualification card

In the UK, the qualification is recorded on a driver qualification card (DQC) which must be carried by the driver when driving. It will be issued on successful completion of the initial test and when 35 hours of periodic training has been completed (subject to the issuing process outlined above).

Periodic training is recorded on a central database administered by DVSA. Every time a driver completes an approved course the approved cpc training provider must update the central database within five working days.

Drivers can obtain a statement showing the training they have undertaken from DVSA. This can be obtained by the driver at

Companies may wish to ask potential new drivers to provide statements of training as part of the driver recruitment process. The driver qualification card will be issued automatically by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) free of charge to drivers who hold a photocard driving licence on passing the initial examinations or the completion of 35 hours of periodic training.

A DQC may only be issued to holders of photocard licences. Exchanging a paper licence for a photocard licence may be done using the Government gateway website or by requesting a D1 form from the DVLA or a post office. The cost for exchanging a licence by either method is currently £20.

A £25 fee will also apply if card has been damaged, lost or stolen. A driver must apply for a replacement card with the competent Authority (DVSA in GB or DVA in NI) as soon as is reasonably practicable. If no card has been returned within 20 day (GB) or 15 days (NI) then call the relevant Agency to ensure that the application is being processed.

Offences and penalties

It is an offence to drive a vehicle without holding a Driver CPC (if required), and to cause or permit another person to do so. This means that, as with driver licence checks, transport undertakings must have systems in place to ensure that drivers are properly qualified.

The driver will also be breaking the law if he/she fails to produce their driver’s qualification card at the roadside, where the driver is required to hold a CPC.

The requirements will be enforced by the police and DVSA and the penalties are as follows.

Offence Maximum penalty
No Driver CPC held (by driver) when required. £1,000 fine.
Causing or permitting the above. £1,000 fine.
Driver failing to carry Driver CPC qualification card while driving. £1,000 fine.£50 fixed penalty may be offered.
Failing to notify of lost, damaged or stolen card, or failing to return lost card if found later. £1,000 fine.
Person guilty of forgery or false statements. Prison sentence of up to two years, a fine or both.

Information sourced from FTA Yearbook of Transport Law.

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