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The 8 main steps to becoming a qualified commercial driver in the UK

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Commercial vehicles are designed for transporting goods or paying passengers. This includes lorries and other heavy goods vehicles, buses and large vans.

If you’re interested in becoming a commercial driver, there are various steps you need to take first. We’ve outlined the 8 main steps below to get you on your way to becoming a qualified commercial driver in the UK.

Step 1 - work out which commercial driving licence you want

There are various types of commercial driving licence in the UK: Class 1, Class 2, D1 and D amongst others. There are also different requirements to meet and tests to undergo to acquire one of these specific licences. Therefore, knowing what type of commercial driving licence is essential for determining your next steps.

Step 2 – have/acquire a full UK car driving licence

The first step in acquiring a commercial driving licence is to apply for provisional entitlement to the driving category. This is known as ‘staging’. However, before you can do that, you must first have a valid UK car driving licence.

If you do not currently have a car driving licence, you can find all the information you need on the government’s website.

Step 3 – apply for provisional entitlement

With a car driving licence, you can apply for a provisional licence to the following higher driving categories:

  • Category BE – for driving vehicles up to 3,500kg with a trailer
  • G – road roller licence
  • H – Tracked vehicles
  • C1 – for driving vehicles between 3,500kg and 7,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg)
  • C – for driving vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg)
  • D1 – for driving minibuses and other vehicles with no more than 16 passengers and up to 8m long (with a trailer up to 750kg)
  • D – for driving buses with more than 8 passengers (with a trailer up to 750kg)

It’s also important to bear in mind that you may need to apply for provisional entitlement again if you’d like to become a higher qualified commercial driver in the UK. For example, for a C+E (Class 1) driving licence, you will already need a category C (Class 2) driving licence.

Step 4 – the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) test Part 1: theory

After applying for a provisional lorry or bus licence, depending on which type of commercial vehicle you wish to drive, you will need to pass the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) test.

The first part of the Driver CPC is a theory test, which you can book as soon as you’ve got your provisional licence. The theory test is broken up into 2 parts:

  1. Multiple choice questions
  2. Hazard perception test

As you would have done when doing your car driving test, we recommend preparing properly. There are plenty of learning tools available that cover the contents of the test and allow you to do practice questions.

Step 5 – Driver CPC Part 2: case studies

You can also book the case studies part of the Driver CPC as soon as you’ve acquired your provisional lorry or bus licence.

This test is also carried out on a computer and it is comprised of seven case studies, with six to eight questions for each case study. The case studies are based on scenarios that you are likely to encounter in your everyday working and life and it takes about 1 and 30 minutes to complete all 8 of them.

Step 6 – Driver CPC Part 3: driving ability

The driving ability part of the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence test can only be booked once you’ve passed the theory test (part 1).

This test lasts for about 1 hour and 30 minutes and it includes vehicle safety questions, practical road driving and off-road exercises. There are various training providers available where you can train to drive a lorry or bus in preparation for this test.

Step 7 – Driver CPC Part 4: practical demonstration

The final part of the Driver CPC is a practical demonstration test. In order to book it, you will need to have passed the case studies test (part 2).

This test is made up of 5 topics from the Driver CPC syllabus and covers your ability to load your vehicle following safety rules, keeping it secure and stopping the trafficking of illegal immigrants, and others.

Step 8 - After you’re a qualified commercial driver in the UK

After doing the full Driver CPC, you will be sent a Driver CPC card, which you must carry with you when professionally driving coaches, lorries or buses. You will also need to undergo 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to stay qualified.

However, if you would like to drive artic lorries commercially, you will need to a book C+E driving test, which you can only do after passing the Driver CPC and qualifying as a Class 2 (category C) driver.


If you’re a qualified commercial driver or you’re on your way to qualifying and are looking for vacancies once you finish, head on over to our website and check out our current driving vacancies.

PPR Recruitment is a leading technical recruitment business providing contract and permanent staffing solutions. To find out more about working in one of the industries we support, give us a call on 01895 80 81 88 or contact us online.


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