Having been through the entire process I have been asked by many people to share what I have learnt. This information is based on my assessment of our personal circumstances – if you are in doubt please contact a professional! Fortunately we have followed many of these procedures for many years. For us only the CPC and EU Type II were necessary.

It is no wonder people are finding it so confusing – not least of which because of the “in field” advice of so many people all of whom want to get away with doing as little as possible. Sometimes indeed, effectively breaking the law.

The concern here is accidents. If you are found to be not complying with the law you may well find yourself without insurance. And as is so often the case – its all fine until something goes wrong.

Operators Licenses

Something I know is a biggie in the horse world. And I know many are avoiding this for all manner of reasons – not least cost. Here is my understanding of the law. Putting “Not for Hire or Reward” on the side of your lorry if you are to all intents and purposes a professional rider just won’t work.

If you are involved in:

  • Teaching people
  • Riding other peoples horses and charging them livery
  • Taking and competition others, horses at shows
  • Winning prize money or prizes
  • Operating a livery business
  • Sponsored as a rider

Then you WILL need an operators license. The good news is that unless you are charging people to travel their horses to shows then this will only be a restricted one. If you do, then I suggest you find another way to work this because the conditions on a full operators license are onerous.

If you get caught operating without this then there will be a fine.

As part of this process you have to take several steps – most of which are good practise in any case. In addition to implementing these steps you will need to apply to the Traffic Commissioner for a license which involves some form filling, some newspaper adverts and paying some money (of course!) along with proving you have funds to maintain the vehicle

  • Pay full road tax on your vehicle not PHGV levels
  • Use your tacho properly regardless of the weight of your vehicle and download and analyse your records
  • Perform walk around checks prior to driving off and document this – good practise in any case
  • Have your vehicle inspected and reported on at least every 13 weeks – depending on mileage

So what examples of your circumstances lead to needing an operators license? There are lots but here are a couple I can think of – it might first be helpful to consider the industry standard example of the difference between operators licenses.

Restricted – A builder has a lorry which he uses in the line of his work. He carries materials from a supplier to site and uses these materials on site to build things. In this case a restricted license is all that is needed as the transport is coincidental to his work and not transport for transports sake.

Full – The builders merchant transports bricks to the above site for the builder to use. The merchant needs a full operators license as the purpose of travel is simply transporting.

A good horse equivalent example is VAT. If you have a horse on full livery who’s purpose on the yard is simply livery then you don’t charge VAT on that service. If you send your horse for rehab, retraining or to stud for example – for a specific purpose other than just keeping it somewhere then VAT is chargeable. That’s a slightly simplistic analogy, because depending on a number of factors various VAT principles come into play, but in rough terms you see the idea. Same thing (a stable) but different purposes = different rules – in this case on tax but in transport terms relating to the type of operators license.

Person A is a professional rider. They might not consider themselves that, however they are sponsored by a couple of companies and they are given rides on horses to compete. They charge the owners livery and also make a living out of training and teaching people. 100% any vehicle they own MUST have an operators license and regardless of the size of vehicle they must abide by driving hour rules and use a Tachograph..

Person B is a professional trainer. They do not have a yard or indeed anyone else horses at livery. The have a small lorry and just compete their own horse for fun. Personally I would say they would not need any operators license with the caveat that the lorry must not be part of their business, they must not pay for fuel or expenses on the lorry as part of their business – rather from their personal post tax income. I do stand to be corrected on this one but that is my understanding.

Driver CPC

Are you the rider or a groom driving the lorry? Then you will need Driver CPC. This amounts to 35 hours training every 5 years.

There is an argument that someone who is neither – such as a parent – not needing Driver CPC in a totally private vehicle. My only answer to that is – do you want to argue the point with the police on the side of the road somewhere Europe when they don’t speak English – for the sake of £180 and 35 hours of your life?

You should also give consideration to the working time directive – not more than 15 hours per day of work including travel to and from the show and riding or working time at the show. Again not likely to affect a parent but certainly will affect professional grooms and riders.

I do recommend doing the course now as its online and much easier to stomach than the classroom version. We used AG Training and I know a lot of other horse people are. Adrian makes it about as interesting as it is possible to be and you might even learn something – I know it certainly made me aware of things. As they say complacency leads to mistakes.

Type II Certifications

To travel in the EU you now require an EU issued type II certificate where the journey is over 8 hours – which is most to the EU.

I believe you will need this in ALL circumstances but that is not set in stone. Certainly you will need it if you are a “professional” rider or going to compete where prizes or money are on offer. I understand some people disagree with this but I am sticking to my guns unless categorically told otherwise by the EU!

Importantly you will also need a UK Type II as the journey originates within the UK.

Indeed it was always the case that a Type II UK issued certificate should have been present if transporting horses over 8 hours.

The good news is that the UK one is free so long as you have a vehicle approval certificate from an authority such as the FTA.

The bad news is that the EU one is not and you will have to take your vehicle to the EU to get it issued. Now in the current COVID climate this is one of those rare occasions where you will see a benefit of having an operators license and the correct DQC cards. As “commercial” truckers you’ll just take COVID tests and drive away – no need to isolate on your return. If you don’t have this then it is 10 days in the house and extra tests for you.

In order to get to this stage you must name drivers that have their human Type II certificate to show competence in traveling horses over long distances. It is a requirement that at least one person on the vehicle has this.

If you vehicle does not comply with the basics of this approval then you will likely incur expense. The requirements generally relate to the space available for the horse, the angle of the ramp (they were obsessed by this), the capacity of the fans, the temperature monitoring system in the horse area and the cameras on the horses.

Fortunately the human version of this Type II is only a 1.5 hour online course at present so I suggest you get booked in for this if you don’t have it. Even better news is that with the simple completion of a couple of forms the Irish EU version will get you a UK version free of charge. We used Gill group in Ireland – the price appears to be dependant on how they feel. It started at €175 but quickly went to €250 by the time we booked. I counted over 40 on our course so go figure the profit on that for 1.5 hours of powerpoint and a question paper a 10 year old could answer. But still it is required so you have to do it.

I know some people have popped over to Ireland with their lorries where the inspection appears (from reports) to be a little less extensive shall I say. Fine if you want to do that – but you should also be aware that there is a requirement to have an appointed EU representative for each year you operate within the EU – and as far as I am aware only EHS in Belgium offer this service.


I hear lots of versions but here are the facts

  1. If you have an HGV (over 7.5 tonnes) then you MUST use a tachograph and abide by drivers hours rules
  2. If you operate a non HGV and fall under operators license rules then you MUST use a tachograph

If you have to use a tachograph then it must be calibrated every 2 years.

If you fail to use it in accordance with the law (including calibration) and are stopped by DVSA then the fines may be up to £5000. A link to a useful guide is below


Good practise and sometime law to carry

  • your box file of certificates including
    • Human type II CPC
    • Animal transport certificates (UK and EU) Type II
    • Emergency Plan
    • Eurotunnel compliance certificate
  • Original V5
  • Original Insurance certificate and green card
  • Passports of horses (of course) and health papers
  • your driving license(s) and DQC cards
  • Make sure your plating certificate is in your vehicle
  • Make sure the accurate height of your vehicle is visible to the driver in the cab

There are other considerations such as Carnet – which is effectively a passport for goods such as your equipment and horses. That is a whole specialised area – just google it and you will find lots of help there.

If you have any questions Ill do my best to answer them. Just drop me an email or Facebook PM and if necessary I will update this.

Just to finish – as I said at the start, this is a belt and braces approach following guidance to the letter. If you do all of this you will be 100% compliant under most any circumstances. If I have missed anything then again just drop me a line.