The Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) is a new qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. It has been introduced across Europe with the aim of improving road safety and helping to maintain high standards of driving.
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 obtain a Driver CPC.
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 five years if they want to keep their Driver CPC after that period.
Bus and coach drivers who hold a relevant vocational licence gained before 10 September 2008, and lorry drivers who obtained their licence 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 have to complete periodic training to keep their Driver CPC.
Driver CPC is valid for five years. 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 will receive their DQC when they have completed their 35 hours of periodic training.
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 (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 will need to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years on an ongoing basis in order to continue to drive for a living.
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.
If a driver holds a vocational licence for buses and coaches as well as lorries, they only need to do one set of periodic training.
Drivers do not need a Driver CPC if the vehicle they drive:
- has a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 45 kilometers 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 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: Business Link
- Driver CPC training for lorry, bus and coach drivers: Directgov
- Example of a Driver Qualification Card
- Driving Standards Agency
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
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