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 aim of improving road safety and maintaining high standards of driving.
What is Driver CPC?
Under a European Union Directive, professional drivers of lorries over 3.5 tonnes or Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCV) with 9 or more seats must usually obtain a Driver CPC in addition to a vocational driving licence.
New drivers obtain their Driver CPC by passing a series of initial qualification tests with both theory and practical sections. This must be maintained with 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years or the certificate will lapse.
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 as they are deemed to hold 'acquired rights'. They must still complete periodic training to maintain their Driver CPC.
New drivers who pass the initial qualification tests will receive a "Driver Qualification Card" (DQC), or alternatively community code 95 is added to the driving licence to show that they hold a Driver CPC.
Drivers who have acquired rights receive their DQC when they have completed their first 35 hours of periodic training. Their DQC is valid until 9 September 2018 for PCV drivers, and until 9 September 2019 for LGV drivers. Drivers with licences for both PCV and LGV are covered by one DQC which is valid until 9 September 2019.
Driver CPC theory tests
Part one - Theory test.
The theory test is made up of 2 parts
- a multiple choice test and
- a hazard perception test.
The multiple choice test lasts 1hr 55 minutes and contains 100 questions. The current pass mark is 85%. The hazard perception part of the theory test consists of 19 video clips, with a total of 20 score-able hazards. Every hazard is worth a maximum of 5 marks and a score of 67% is required to earn a pass.
The driver must take both tests separately and it doesn’t matter in which order the driver completes them. As long as both tests are passed within 2 years of each other the driver will get a theory test certificate. Once the driver has passed Driver CPC module 1 the driver must pass the Driver CPC module 3 driving test within 2 years, otherwise the driver will have to pass the module 1 theory test again.
Part two - Case studies
The test consists of seven case studies the driver works through on a computer. The case studies are basically short scenarios based on situations that are highly likely to happen in one's working life as a lorry driver. The test has been written by industry experts and uses realistic scenarios that a lorry driver may encounter when out on the road. The driver is asked between six and eight multiple choice questions on each of the seven case studies. The whole test lasts for 1 hour 55 minutes and the pass mark is 80%.
A pass letter is valid for two years and the driver must complete and pass the Driver CPC module 4 practical demonstration test within the 2 years, otherwise the driver will have to complete module 2 case studies test again.
Part three - Licence acquisition (practical test of driving ability)
The driving ability test is a practical test that lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes and includes:
- Vehicle safety questions
- Practical road driving
- Off-road exercises
Part four - Driver CPC practical test (vehicle safety demonstration)
The Driver CPC Module 4 is an interactive test where the driver is expected to demonstrate and explain a number of operations that are required by a lorry driver other than the driving itself. For this module, the driver is tested on being able to:
- Load the vehicle following the correct safety rules and ensure the load is kept secure
- Prevent trafficking in illegal immigrants
- Assess emergency situations
- Do a complete walk round vehicle safety check
To get the full Driver CPC qualification, drivers must 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 had to complete their first block of 35 hours of training and have their DQC issued by 9 September 2013. The deadline to complete their second block of training is 9 September 2018.
Drivers of LGV vehicles prior to 10 September 2009 had to complete 35 hours of training and have their DQC issued by 9 September 2014. The deadline to complete their second block of training is 9 September 2019.
Drivers of both PCV and LGV vehicles only need to do one set of periodic training every 5 years.
You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving professionally without Driver CPC.
You can check how many hours of training you’ve done in the current 5-year period.
You only need to complete one set of training every 5 years if you drive both lorries and buses professionally.
There’s a different process if you live in Northern Ireland.
You have to do the training in the country where you work or normally live.
Drivers with ‘acquired rights’
Having ‘acquired rights’ means that you did not have to take the Driver CPC initial qualification because of your existing driving experience.
You have acquired rights if you got your vocational licence before the dates shown in the table.
|Type of vehicle||Vehicle categories included||When you got your vocational licence|
|Lorry||C, C1, C+E and C1+E||Before 10 September 2009|
|Bus or coach||D, D1, D+E, D1+E||Before 10 September 2008|
|Bus or coach (not for hire or reward)||D(101)||After 1991|
|Minibus (not for hire or reward)||D1(101)||Before 1997|
Training deadlines for drivers with acquired rights
You still need to take periodic training, but there are set deadlines.
|Training block||Lorry driver||Bus or coach driver||Dual-category driver (lorry, bus and coach)|
|First block of training||9 September 2014||9 September 2013||9 September 2013|
|Second block training||9 September 2019||9 September 2018||9 September 2019*|
|Third block training||9 September 2024||9 September 2023||9 September 2024|
*You have 6 years to do your second block of training if you have acquired rights for both lorries and buses and finished your first block of training by 9 September 2013.
If you did not do your first block of training
You can finish your training or take extra tests if you have acquired rights and did not finish your first block of training by the deadline.
When to take training
Your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification lasts for 5 years. To keep your Driver CPC you need to do 35 hours of training before your 5-year deadline.
The deadline to do your training is shown on your card.
It’s up to you when you take the training courses, as long as you do them within the 5-year period.
If you miss your training deadline. It’s illegal to drive professionally if you have not done your training by your deadline.
Finding training courses
Only approved Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) courses count towards periodic training. You can choose which courses to attend.
Different courses cover different parts of the Driver CPC syllabus.
You’re allowed to take the same course more than once in each 5-year period, for example you could take a first aid course in the first and last year of the 5-year period.
Driver CPC course costs
Training providers set their own prices for courses - there’s no maximum price.
Taking a training course
You must take one of these to your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) training course:
- a photocard driving licence
- a valid passport
- a digital tachograph card
- a Driver CPC card
Certificate of attendance
You’ll get a certificate of attendance at the end of the course. It belongs to you - your employer is not allowed to keep it.
Your Driver CPC training record
The training centre will put your training on your Driver CPC training record.
Contact the centre where you did your training if it is not showing on your record 5 days after the course.
Problems with a training course
You can email the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) if:
- you think the training provided was not to the right standard, for example the course did not last as long as it should have
- the training centre has stopped trading and they did not update your training record
DVSA Driver CPC complaints
Getting your Driver CPC card
You’ll get your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card when you’ve done 35 hours of periodic training. The card is sometimes called a ‘driver qualification card’ or ‘DQC’.
You must carry this card while driving a lorry, bus or coach professionally.
You can get a £50 fixed penalty for driving professionally without your card.
You must replace your card if it’s lost or stolen.
When you’ll be sent your card
You’ll get your new Driver CPC card straight away if you complete your training in the 12 months before your deadline.
If you complete your training more than a year early
You will not get your new Driver CPC card until nearer the time your current card expires.
You can check when you’ll get your new card.
How the card is sent to you
Your Driver CPC card will be sent automatically to the address on your driving licence. You need to change this address first if it’s wrong.
You only need to apply for your card if you did some of your periodic training in another EU country.
The Driver CPC card does not have your address on it, so you do not have to get a new one if your address changes.
The photo and signature on your photocard driving licence will be used on your Driver CPC card.
Waiting for your card
You can still drive professionally if you’ve done your periodic training and you’re waiting for your new Driver CPC card to arrive.
If your card does not arrive
Contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) if you do not receive your new card within 20 days of the date you’re due to get it.
Driver CPC card replacements
Telephone: 0300 123 7721
Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
You’ll have to pay £25 if:
- you take longer than 3 months to tell DVSA it has not arrived
- it’s sent to an old address because you have not updated your licence
Drivers do not need a Driver CPC if the vehicle they drive:
- 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 and/or goods or 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
- is on a technical road test (to diagnose a fault or validate after a repair)
- Unless a driver has 'acquired or Grandfather clause rights', they will be issued with a DQC once they pass the Driver CPC initial qualification tests.
- Drivers with acquired rights can not use their existing driving licence as proof of their Driver License 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.