The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) is a qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. It has been introduced across Europe with the professed aim of improving road safety and helping to maintain high standards of driving. Legislation came into effect into the United Kingdom on 10 September 2009.
What is Driver CPC?
Under a new European Union Directive, professional bus, coach and lorry drivers need to hold a Driver CPC in addition to a vocational driving licence. Any drivers of lorries over 3.5 tonnes and minibuses with 9 seats or more must usually obtain a Driver CPC. See exceptions below.
New drivers obtain their Driver CPC by passing a series of initial qualification tests - theory and practical. This must then be followed by 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years if they want to keep their Driver CPC after that period.
Bus and coach (PCV) drivers who hold a relevant vocational licence (D, D1, D+E and D1+E) gained before 10 September 2008, (including restricted vocational licence D(101) issued after 1991 and D1(101) issued before 1997) and lorry (LGV) drivers who obtained their licence (C, C1, C+E and C1+E) before 10 September 2009, do not need to take the initial qualification. This is because they are deemed to hold 'acquired rights'. However, they will still have to complete periodic training to keep their Driver CPC.
New drivers who have qualified via the initial qualification route will receive a Driver Qualification Card (DQC), which they can show as proof that they hold Driver CPC.
Existing drivers with acquired rights will receive their DQC when they have completed their first 35 hours of periodic training; their DQC will be valid until 9 September 2018 for PCV drivers and until 9 September 2019 for LGV drivers. Drivers with licences for both PCV and LGV will be covered by one DQC which will be valid until 9 September 2019.
The initial Driver CPC qualification is split into four parts. These include the theory and practical tests drivers will need to pass before they can gain their full vocational driving licence.
The other two parts are optional, and only need to be taken if the driver wants to get the full Driver CPC that will allow them to drive buses, coaches or lorries professionally.
This gives drivers the flexibility to obtain their vocational licence only, or to gain full Driver CPC at the same time.
The two Driver CPC theory tests are:
- part one - theory test (this includes 2 separate tests - multiple-choice and hazard perception)
- part two - case studies
The practical tests are:
- part three - licence acquisition (practical test of driving ability)
- part four - Driver CPC practical test (vehicle safety demonstration)
To get the full Driver CPC qualification, drivers will need to pass all four parts. If they want to get a vocational licence, but will not be driving for a living, they will only need to take and pass part one and part three.
All drivers need to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years on an ongoing basis to keep driving for a living. Drivers can check their Driver CPC periodic training record online to see how many hours they have done.
Periodic training is delivered through courses that drivers attend over the five-year period for which their current Driver CPC is valid. There is no pass or fail element to these tests.
The minimum length of a training course is seven hours, although they may be longer. Where a course of seven hours is split into two parts, the second part must start within 24 hours of the first part ending.
Each new five-year period will begin from the expiry date of the driver's current Driver CPC qualification, and not from the date on which they reached the 35 hours minimum training requirement.
Drivers of PCV vehicles prior to 10 September 2008 need to complete 35 hours of training and have their Driver Qualification Card (DQC) issued and received by 9 September 2013. The DQC will be valid till 9 September 2018. Drivers of LGV vehicles prior to 10 September 2009 need to complete 35 hours of training and have their Driver Qualification Card (DQC) issued and received by 9 September 2014. The DQC will be valid till 9 September 2019.
The next period of training can start from 10 September 2013 for PCV drivers or 10 September 2014 for LGV drivers but must be completed before the expiry date of their Driver Qualification card.
Drivers of both PCV and LGV vehicles only need to do one set of periodic training every 5 years.
- has a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 45 kilometres per hour
- is used by, or under the control of, the armed forces, civil defence, the fire service and forces responsible for maintaining public order
- is undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, or is a new or rebuilt vehicles which * have not yet been put into service
- is used in states of emergency or assigned to rescue missions
- is used in the course of driving lessons for any person wishing to obtain a driving licence or a Driver CPC
- is used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods, for personal use
- is carrying material or equipment to be used by the driver in the course of his or her work, provided that driving the vehicle is not the driver's principal activity
Unless a driver has 'acquired or grandfather Grandfather clause rights', they will be issued with a DQC once they pass the Driver CPC initial qualification tests.
Drivers with acquired rights can use their existing driving licence as proof of their Driver CPC until the deadline by which they are required to complete the periodic training.
Drivers must always carry evidence of their Driver CPC status while driving professionally. If they are found driving while not in possession of a DQC - or a valid driving licence if they have acquired rights - they will be liable for penalties.
The Driver CPC is enforced in all European Union (EU) member states. If the driver is driving in another EU country, they must still hold a valid Driver CPC, unless they have an exemption.
- 'Driver CPC: the basics' video
- Independent Driver CPC Training Overview
- Driver CPC for lorry, bus and coach drivers - GOV.UK
- Check your Driver CPC periodic training hours - GOV.UK
- Find Driver CPC periodic training courses - GOV.UK
- Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency