What is a class c licence and how to qualify for one

Updated 31 July 2023

There are many jobs, especially in the transportation industry, that require the safe handling of a specific vehicle. If your role requires specialised vehicle control, it's likely you need a licence to do so. A Class C licence is one of the most common types of licence you can acquire. In this article, we answer the question, 'What is a Class C licence?', describe what it's used for and explain how you can get one.

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What is a Class C licence?

What is a Class C licence? It's one of the many types of licences you can acquire to safely and legally use a particular type of vehicle. In the case of a Class C licence, you are able to operate vehicles over 3,500kg with a trailer of up to 750kg maximum available mass, known as MAM. A Class C licence is different from:

  • a Category C1 licence, which permits you to drive vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg, plus a trailer up to 750kg MAM.

  • a Category C1E licence, which permits you to drive Category C1 vehicles with a trailer that exceeds 750kg. The overall weight cannot exceed 12,000 kg.

  • a Category CE licence, which permits you to drive Category C vehicles with a trailer of up to 750g MAM.

What does a driver with a Class C licence do?

If you're the holder of a valid Class C licence, it's likely that you work within the transportation or haulage industry. The daily responsibilities of those with a Class C licence include the end-to-end transportation of goods or parcels from supplier to client. Many industries require the reliable and consistent pick-up and drop-off of their deliveries, meaning there are ample job opportunities for Class C licence holders. In particular, industries such as the retail industry rely on those that are qualified to drive LGV vehicles through the possession of a Class C licence.

Related: How to become a delivery driver: A step-by-step guide

What are the requirements for a Class C licence?

To be successfully granted a Class C licence, there are some prerequisites you must meet first:

  • You must hold a valid UK car driving licence issued through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (the DVLA).

  • You must hold a provisional lorry licence, again issued through the DVLA.

  • You must be in good health, including having acceptable eyesight, mental health and no neurological conditions.

Related: How to become a transport planner

How to get a Class C licence

Once you meet the above conditions, you're ready to begin the process of applying for and being awarded a Class C licence to drive LGV vehicles. To get a Class C licence, you must pass all four parts of the Driver CPC. Review the four steps outlined below:

1. Pass the theory test

As soon as you have your provisional lorry licence, you can book the theory part of the Driver CPC. The theory test is comprised of two parts: hazard perception and multiple choice. You may take both parts of the test on the same day, but they must be booked separately. You must pass both parts of your theory test within two years of each other. If not, you're unable to get your theory test certification. The theory test includes:

  • Multiple choice: This test lasts for 1 hour 55 minutes and is comprised of 100 questions. The pass mark is 85 correct answers.

  • Hazard perception: There are 19 videos to watch in this test, with 20 in-progress hazards to identify. The pass mark is 67 out of 100.

If you're successful in passing your theory test for a Class C licence, your certificate remains valid for two years following passing either component of the test.

Related: What are class 1 drivers? (With FAQS)

2. Complete the case studies

The second part of the Drivers CPC test is the case studies. It's worth noting that you don't need to have passed the previous theory test to book your case studies test. The case studies test is based on a computer and is comprised of seven individual case studies. Each case study is based on a real-life scenario that you are likely to encounter as a holder of a Class C licence and an individual permitted to drive LGV vehicles.

For each case study, you are prompted to answer between six and eight questions. The test takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete, and the pass mark for the case studies component of the Drivers CPC is 40 out of 50. Following your pass of the case studies component, you must complete the other three sections of the test within two years. If you don't, you have to retake all components.

Related: Case study: Definition, types, elements and examples

3. Driving ability

Before you undertake the driving ability assessment of the Driver's CPC, you must have passed the theory test first. An important thing to note when booking your driving ability test is that you must also bring with you a lorry, coach or bus that meets the standards set out by the DVLA. The driving ability test lasts for 1 hour 30 minutes and is comprised of three parts:

Practical road driving

In the practical road driving part, you are expected to demonstrate a number of capabilities, including:

  • using the mirrors

  • dealing with hazards

  • selecting a safe place to come to a halt

  • doing a controlled stop

  • controlling the speed of your vehicle

  • giving the appropriate signals

  • anticipating the movements of other drivers

  • using the vehicle's controls

  • ten minutes of independent driving so that the examiner can assess your in-time assessment of hazards and your ability to drive correctly and safely.

Vehicle safety questions

In the vehicle safety questions part, the instructor asks questions about lorries, buses and coaches. Depending on the test you are taking, the instructor asks questions about towing trailers. These questions are necessary for commercial HGV driving with large loads in trailers.

Off-road exercises

You need to complete a number of off-road exercises, such as completing an S-shaped reverse into a bay. If you are taking a test with a trailer, Part of the test is to show the standard procedures for recoupling and uncoupling. Following the driving ability tests, your examiner tells you if you have passed. You achieve a pass if you cause fewer than 15 minor faults with no major errors made.

4. Practical demonstration

You must have passed the case studies component of your Driver's CPC before you can book the final part of the test, the practical demonstration. You or your trainer can book the practical demonstration. Like the previous part of the test, you must bring an acceptable lorry, coach or bus with you to your practical demonstration test. In the practical demonstration, you are tested on five topics from the Driver CPC Syllabus.

For each topic, you can score up to 20 points. To pass, you must score at least 15 points in each topic and have a minimum overall score of 80 out of 100. The purpose of the practical demonstration is to test your ability to:

  • assess emergency situations

  • complete a vehicle safety check

  • safely load a vehicle

  • prevent the physical risk of injury to yourself and others

Once you have passed all four parts of this test, you become a qualified driver of LGV vehicles and become a holder of a Class C licence. While driving an LGV vehicle, you must always have your Driver CPC card with you at all times. This card is also commonly referred to as a DQC or a driver qualification card. They send your Driver CPC card to the address registered on your driving licence, so make sure your details are up-to-date before beginning the process of getting a Class C licence.

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Maintaining your Class C licence

Once you have received your Driver CPC card that enables you to drive Class C vehicles, it's important that you renew your licence as and when required. The renewal period is every five years from your initial passing of the Drivers CPC tests. Alongside this, you must also undergo 35 hours of additional Driver CPC training. If you wish to complete additional training and testing to upgrade your Class C licence (for instance, to a Category CE licence), then the DVLA permits you to do so through a registered training provider.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

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