The Driver CPC or Certificate of Professional Competence is a qualification needed by drivers of lorries, busses and coaches in Europe. It was born from a European Union Directive which affects commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and passenger carrying vehicles with 9 or more seats. There are exemptions but most drivers will need a Driver Qualification Card (DQC) or have licence code 95 depending on the country of licence issue, in order to drive these vehicles for a living.

The rules came into force on the 10th September 2008 for PCV drivers, at that point all holders of category D1, D and D+E licences received a five year DQC by acquired rights. A year later the same requirement came into force for holders of C1, C and C+E entitlement holders and they also received acquired rights.

Getting an Initial CPC

First and foremost, it’s important to note that if you’ve held C1 or D1 entitlements by Grandfather Rights, (you got the licence for mini-bus or 7.5 tonne vehicles with your car driving licence) you have already had a CPC. This is true of all holders of Grandfather Rights, if they used the CPC or not.

The same is true of anyone who passed a C1 or D1 test between 1997 and 2009, who received entitlement to drive before the CPC regulations came into effect. You will have received your first CPC by acquired rights, even if you were only using the licence to move the family’s horse around.

Drivers learning to drive LGVs and PCVs now who wish to drive for a living will need to undergo the Driver CPC Initial Qualification. Completed as part of your vocational driving lessons, there are two additional tests you will have to undertake. Note that if you do not intend to drive for a living, you may not need to take the Driver CPC Initial Certification.

If you are taking the Initial Qualification you will need to complete a case studies test and a Driver CPC practical test. That makes your truck or bus learning journey a four stage process:

Module 1 – Theory Test

The LGV or PCV Theory Test is the first step anyone wanting to drive anything bigger than a van or a people carrier. The test is taken at a DVLA Theory Test centre, which are usually run by an outside contractor like Pearson VUE.

There are two parts to the test, the multiple choice test which contains 100 questions on things like road signs, weight limits and the highway code. The pass mark is 85%

There is also the Hazard Perception component which is made up of 19 video clips with 20 scoreable hazards. That means that one of the clips will have two hazards in it. Candidates are scored based on clicking a mouse when you see a hazard developing, the faster you spot the hazard, the higher the score. Candidates with 67% or more of the available marks at the end of the test pass.

You have to pass both components in a single sitting and your pass letter is valid for 2 years. If you do not pass the Module 3 test before the letter becomes invalid in 2 years, you will have to sit the Module 1 test again.

Module 2 – Case Studies

This is a Driver CPC module so if you don’t need a CPC you don’t need to do it. If you do sit the test, its available at the same test centre you sit your Module 1 test at, but you will need a separate test booking. The test itself is comprised of seven case studies which give examples of situations you are likely to encounter as a vocational driver.

You will be asked six to eight questions relating to each case study. Correctly answering 80% will get you a pass letter, which is valid for 2 years. Again, you must complete Module 4 before your pass letter expires.

Module 3 – Driving Test

The Module 3 test is your driving test, where you are tested on your ability to operate your chosen class of vehicle. The test will include a reversing manoeuvre, show me or tell me questions and a through test of your driving ability. The test will take approximately 90 minutes to complete.

At this point you can legally drive the class of vehicle you are training for but you can’t work as a truck or bus driver without completing Module 4.

Module 4 – Driver CPC Practical Test.

The Module 4 test is a practical driving test and a vehicle of an appropriate class is needed to complete it. You will be asked to demonstrate that you can safely check the vehicle, secure it against illegal immigrants and assess emergency situations.


Driver CPC Periodic Training

Drivers who have held a Driver CPC, regardless of if they have used it or not, must undertake five 7 hour sessions of Driver CPC training every five years to maintain their entitlement to drive vocationally. If a driver has an expired CPC, they also need to take these five 7 hour courses.

The training has to be presented by an approved provider, the organisation that approves providers is JAUPT, the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training and there are two ways that a training provider can become approved.

The first is to become approved in their own right, submitting to a centre approval for a fee, and also submitting each course for approval. Each course approval also attracts a fee.

The other way a training provider can become approved is to join a consortium. RPS Driven Media Ltd has taken this route to become approved. Our consortium lead, Driver CPC 4U, has become directly approved by JAUPT and has submitted our trainers to JAUPT for approval. We also pay a licensing fee to Driver CPC 4U which allows us to deliver their approved courses to our customers.

Only approved centres can upload hours to the DVSA for crediting to a Driver CPC and for the issue of a Driver Qualification Card.

Training Courses

Drivers need to take five 7 hour courses in a five year period, these courses must be approved and they must be taken in seven hour blocks. The courses can be made up of two 3.5 hour modules and still count for seven hours. A seven hour block can be spread over 24 hours so you can take a module on one evening and another on the next.

Drivers and trainers also have a duty to ensure that the training isn’t repeated without reason. There are valid reasons to repeat a module in the same five year period which include ADR or Hydraulically Operated Lorry Loader qualification renewal or a demonstrable problem with compliance due to understanding the rules and regulations.

Once a driver completes all five courses, (or a combination of courses which count for a total of 35 hours training such as a Transport Manager CPC at 35 hours or a TM CPC refresher course at 14 hours) and their hours have been uploaded to the DVSA a new DQC can be issued. Its important to note that additional hours taken in the same five year period may not be accepted by the DVSA.

The DVSA will issue your new Driver Qualification Card just before your current DQC expires. If you cut it a bit late and there isn’t enough time to complete your training and get the card through, you can prove that you have a CPC by carrying the certificates with you and this may provide a defence against a Graduated Fixed Penalty Notice but this is not guaranteed.

Exemptions to the Driver CPC

Drivers are exempt from the need to have a valid CPC and carry a DQC if the vehicle they are driving meet the conditions below:

  • It has a maximum authorised speed of 45 kmh (28 mph).
  • It’s being used by the Armed Forces, in civil defence, the fire service or forces responsible for maintaining public order.
  • It’s being road tested for technical development, repair or maintenance. Or it is a new vehicle which hasn’t been put into service yet.
  • It’s being used during a state of emergency or is being used on a rescue mission.
  • It’s being used for driving lessons for any person looking to get an entitlement or CPC.
  • It’s being used for the non-commercial carriage of goods or for personal use.
  • It is carrying material or equipment to be used by the driver in the course of their work if driving the vehicle is not the drivers principal work activity.
  • It’s being road tested after being repaired.


Drivers who are caught driving without a valid DQC can face a Graduated Fixed Penalty Notice. The fine is £50 and it may affect the operators licence. Drivers who are also found to be driving without having completed the training can face a £1000 fine and prosecution. The operator will take a serious hit to their OCRS score and both may be called to answer for their actions to the Traffic Commissioner.

The regulations apply across all EU member states and Brexit hasn’t effected the requirement to carry a DQC in the UK. There are currently no plans to amend the regulations to end the Driver CPC.


After 10 years in the haulage industry, rising to running my own small fleet of vehicles, I left the cab behind to focus on training the next generation of drivers. I now run RPS Driven Media, give driving lessons as a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor and relate my experience of road haulage in Driver CPC courses throughout the year.

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