Wed, December 20, 2023
Different Lorry Licence Categories
If you're reading this post, chances are you're interested in obtaining your HGV license but may be uncertain about which lorry licence categories are most suitable for you. With a total of three different HGV types, deciphering the best option can be challenging. In this post, we delve into the various available categories and provide guidance on how to navigate the process to obtain what you need, not just what you want.
Understanding Lorry Licence Categories
Defining lorry licence categories and their importance
The DVLA, along with many other countries, categorizes HGVs into different types based on two main factors: weight and vehicle combination. The three types of HGV license entitlements are all prefixed with the letter C.
HGV/LGV Cat C1: This category encompasses any "goods vehicle" with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes. The C1 license is mainly required by individuals employed in the emergency services, with the majority of C1 driving tests undertaken by paramedics or the police service.
HGV/LGV Cat C: The most prevalent type of truck on the UK's roads is the Cat C, known in the industry as a rigid license or class 2. This category represents more than two-thirds of all HGVs. The term "rigid" signifies that the cab and trailer are permanently attached and do not separate, unlike a trailer combination. Cat C includes goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes (which also falls under C1) but with a permitted weight limit of 32 tonnes. The 32-tonne limit refers to the maximum gross weight, including the weight of the vehicle and the load it is legally allowed to carry. It is possible to tow a trailer with a Cat C license, provided the trailer does not exceed 750 kilograms.
Between January 1, 1997, and November 21, 2021, individuals seeking an HGV license were only allowed to obtain the Cat C license. Before 1997 and after 2021, legislative changes allowed skipping Cat C and going directly for the C+E.
This approach was introduced, in part, to address the HGV driver shortage, with Grant Shapps playing a role in its implementation. However, the success rate for passing the CE driving tests is notably low.
HGV/LGV C+E: The CE license, often referred to as the "daddy" of all categories, encompasses both C and C1 entitlements. It is commonly known as an artic or class 1 license. In this context, the C represents the prime mover (over 3.5 tons but not more than 32 tonnes), and the letter E denotes trailer entitlement over 750 kilograms.
Holders of a CE license typically command a higher rate of pay compared to Cat C drivers. However, this may vary depending on the employer and the nature of the work. Many new entrants opt for the Class 1 option, bypassing the C1 or Cat C. While this can be a viable choice for those aiming for a Class 1 license, transitioning directly from a car to a Class 1 can be a challenging endeavor. It is a steep learning curve, and new entrants might underestimate the difficulty of obtaining this license. The national pass rate for individuals transitioning from a car to Class 1 is just below 40%.
To increase the chances of success, it is recommended to obtain the Cat C first, gain some experience, and then consider pursuing the Class 1 license at a later date. Securing a position driving an artic immediately after passing the driving test from a car to Class 1 is rare. Employers are often hesitant to entrust newly qualified Class 1 drivers with the keys to expensive vehicles, considering the significant investment involved.
Common Lorry Licence Categories
Category C (Cat C): This license is classified as a Heavy Goods Vehicle with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) over 3.5 tonnes and not exceeding 32 tonnes. It is the most common type of HGV on UK roads and is often considered the best category for new entrants to choose.
Category C1+E (Cat C1+E): This category is best described as a 7.5-tonner with a trailer weighing over 750 kilograms. According to legislation, the Total Permitted Train Weight combination of the C1 and E must not exceed 12 tons combined. For instance, if the prime mover is plated at 7.5 tonnes, then the trailer weight may not exceed 4.5 tonnes. Individuals who passed their car test before January 1, 1997, have C1E through grandfather rights. However, there will be a restriction code 107 on their driving licence, indicating that the combination of the vehicle and trailer must not exceed 8,250 kilograms. Therefore, if towing with a 7.5-tonner, they cannot tow a trailer over 750 kilograms (if the 107 restriction is present).
Choosing between Category C (Cat C) and Category CE (Cat CE) depends on various factors, including the type of goods vehicles you want to drive and your budget for training. While both licenses open up opportunities in the HGV industry, opting for Cat C is often more cost-effective and manageable for new entrants.
Cat C is suitable for Heavy Goods Vehicles with a Maximum authorized mass (MAM) of over 3.5 tonnes and not exceeding 32 tonnes. This category covers the majority of HGVs on UK roads and provides a solid foundation for gaining experience.
On the other hand, Cat CE is for articulated or Class 1 vehicles, combining the prime mover (over 3.5 tonnes and not exceeding 32 tonnes) with a trailer weighing over 750 kilograms. Choosing Cat CE involves additional complexities, including mastering skills such as reversing, uncoupling, and recoupling. This route generally requires more training and can be more challenging for those with limited experience.
Considering the cost factor, obtaining a Cat C license is usually more affordable than going straight for Cat CE. The training for Cat CE often involves more hours of instruction, leading to higher costs. New entrants are advised to weigh the pros and cons carefully, considering their career goals, budget constraints, and the level of training they are prepared to undergo.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between HGV Class 1 and Class 2?
The primary distinction between Class 2 and Class 1 lies in weight and trailer capacity. A Cat C license allows you to operate a rigid vehicle with a trailer not exceeding 750 kilograms. In contrast, a Cat CE license grants you the ability to drive any goods vehicle with a trailer over 750 kilograms.
What is the HGV Category C licence?
The Cat C HGV license is categorically a rigid or Class 2 truck license. It is the most commonly utilized type of goods vehicle on the roads today. For new entrants, obtaining a Cat C license offers the most promising opportunities for employment as a truck driver.
What does the term LGV Category C mean?
The LGV Category C refers to a Large Goods Vehicle license that permits the holder to operate a rigid truck or goods vehicle with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) over 3.5 tonnes and not exceeding 32 tonnes. This license category is commonly known as Cat C or Class 2 and is crucial for drivers aspiring to drive medium to large-sized goods vehicles.
Understanding the different HGV licence categories is essential in determining which licence you will opt for and we hope this post has given you a clearer insight. Yes, parliament changed the rules in 2021 allowing you to go for the class without having to pass the cat C however as mentioned previously we don’t advise you to choose this option. If you want to get employment after passing then you will be in a much better position going for the cat C first. The main reasons for this are it’s cheaper than going straight to class 1, it’s less challenging to pass the driving test and this is where the work is. Like all things in life, before you hand over any money to a training company please do your research. The HGV industry is littered with “middlemen” and “shoddy” HGV training companies and you need to avoid these companies like the plague. We always recommend you find your nearest HGV driving test center and go and see which companies use that area, what their trucks are like, and whether are they genuine. Following these steps will save you a lot of time and money.