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Professional drivers in the UK must get special licensing and adhere to specific guidelines when driving commercial vehicles. Thanks to a recent EU directive, new drivers will now have to earn an additional Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) as well.

What is CPC and what does it mean to you? That depends on when you earn your license and the type of vehicle you drive. CPC requirements will apply to lorries exceeding 3.5 tonnes as well as all buses and coaches. Drivers of smaller lorries and minibuses will be exempt.

Currently Licensed Drivers

Currently licensed drivers meeting certain qualifications will not be required to earn the CPC certificate, although they must still undergo the same periodic training – 35 hours, once every five years – in order to remain licensed. The qualifications for the exemption, also known as acquired rights, are as follows:

In a nutshell, the CPC program is a way of ensuring that drivers have the practical skills and competence to operate these commercial vehicles. The rationale behind the directive is to provide a standard means of measuring driver competence across the European Union.

Changing Licenses

When changing licenses, the new regulations apply equally to both new drivers and those with acquired rights. Once a license and CPC certificate have been earned, the driver is restricted to operating the specific types of vehicles listed on his or her license. If a driver wants to change their license or operate different types of vehicles, they’ll have to upgrade their license and undergo further CPC training.

In order to earn the CPC new drivers will still take their theory and practical test as normal. Once the commercial driver’s license is earned, it’s followed by 35 hours of CPC training and, at the conclusion of such training, a CPC certificate. That certificate is good for five years from the date of issue. Near the end of that five-year period, the driver will have to undergo an additional 35 hours training in order for it to be renewed.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest concerns with the CPC directive is the fact that it will cost drivers as much as £1,500 or more to obtain the necessary training. As we referenced in a blog post earlier, that additional cost is causing some drivers to think about finding a new career or retiring.

If you have the means, you are urged not to forgo professional driving simply because of the CPC requirements. It is still a great career choice with stability and decent wages.

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