If you’re involved in the transportation industry, specifically as a commercial vehicle operator, you may wonder about the rules and regulations surrounding the inclusion of hired trailers on your operator licence. Operating within legal boundaries is essential for any business, and understanding the legalities of trailer usage can save you from potential fines and penalties.
Short-Term Hire and the 28-Day Rule:
One key aspect to consider is the short-term hire of units and trailers. Surprisingly, short-term hire units and trailers are exempt from being added to your operator licence for a certain period. According to the 28-day rule, you can operate these hired trailers without adding them to your licence for up to 28 days. This provides some flexibility for businesses that occasionally require additional trailers for short periods.
Maintaining a Margin:
When you obtain your operator licence, you declare the number of vehicles and trailers you intend to operate. For instance, you might indicate that you plan to operate 10 vehicles and 5 trailers. However, owning the exact specified number of vehicles and trailers is not mandatory. You can have a margin, meaning you can own fewer vehicles and trailers than what’s authorised on your licence.
Let’s say you purchased 9 vehicles and 4 trailers. This leaves you with a margin of 1 additional vehicle and 1 additional trailer. This margin is significant because it allows you to hire in an extra vehicle or trailer when needed without violating your licence’s conditions.
Trailer Registration Number:
One essential difference between vehicles and trailers lies in their registration numbers. While vehicle registration numbers must be declared on the operator licence, this requirement doesn’t apply to trailers solely used within the UK. So, if your trailer is exclusively utilised in the UK, there’s no need to declare its registration number on your licence.
Compliance is crucial when it comes to operating commercial vehicles and trailers. If your operator licence authorises a specific number of trailers, you must adhere to this limit. Exceeding the authorised number of vehicles or trailers is an offence and can lead to severe consequences, including a Level 4 fine of £2,500.
Adding or Removing Vehicles:
When your licence is first issued, it specifies the maximum number of motor vehicles and trailers that can be operated under the licence. You can only add additional vehicles and trailers up to the maximum authorised number specified on your operator licence. Additional vehicles can be added to a licence at any time by recording their registration number on the vehicle operator licence system. this must be done within 28 days of the vehicle coming into your possession. Adding or removing vehicles does not incur a charge.
Operating commercial vehicles and trailers under an operator licence requires a clear understanding of the rules and regulations. The 28-day rule provides some flexibility for short-term hire trailers, and maintaining a margin allows you to hire additional vehicles or trailers, when necessary, without violating your licence’s terms. However, it is crucial to stay compliant and adhere to the authorised number of vehicles and trailers, as exceeding this limit can lead to significant fines and penalties. If you plan to make any changes to your licence, ensure you apply for a chargeable variation well in advance to avoid any disruptions to your operations. Being informed and following the proper procedures will keep your business running smoothly while staying on the right side of the law.
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Remember, adhering to the regulations not only keeps you on the right side of the law but also ensures that you are adhering to the undertakings on your operator licence.