The Lowdown on LGV’s, HGV’s And Licensing

The term LGV and HGV are sometimes thrown around almost at random and their use will vary depending on who you talk to. Many of the older drivers will still refer to LGV driving, while newer drivers will exclusively say ‘HGV’. But what caused this fracture in terms, and what do they mean anyway? Today we dig into the reasons behind both of these terms, what the differences are and what that means for licensing.


What’s A LGV?

In the beginning, there were LGV’s. Unfortunately, the term LGV meant 2 different things. It meant:


  • Light Goods Vehicles –

    Any commercial vehicle weighing under 3.5 tonnes gross. Includes vans and pick-up trucks, and can be operated under a standard license.




  • Large Goods Vehicles –

    Any vehicle with a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes or more. This includes vehicles such as flatbed lorry’s buttons, refrigerated trucks, curtain side lorries, box vans, drop sides, tippers, ADR, HiAb & Moffett.


In other words, any commercial vehicle that wasn’t a car was considered an LGV. And for a while, that was absolutely fine.


So What’s A HGV Then?


But then road tax came along and complicated everything. They wanted to split everything into neat little boxes so that it would be easier to tax people on. Light goods vehicles were put into one bracket, and their tax discs were printed with a little ‘LGV’ to denote the difference. But now they were in a dilemma – what do they call the other category? They picked out the key difference factor – weight- and called them ‘Heavy Goods vehicles’ instead. And that’s how the term HGV was born. It caught on pretty quickly too, as it allowed people to differentiate when people were talking about LGV’s, as opposed to LGV’s (see how confusing It got?)


And How Does the Licensing Work?


As we mentioned before, LGV’s don’t require any sort of specialist license to drive. You just need to be over 18 and have a standard driving license. But HGV’s are a different ball game entirely. For these, you will need to have a specific license depending on what kind of HGV you want to drive. The main categories of the license can be broken down into:


C1 –

Category C1 is the very first, basic level of HGV training and licensing that you can achieve. This license is essentially a step up from a regular UK driver’s license and allows you to drive a vehicle of 3,500 kilograms, as long as that vehicle is under 7.5 tonnes in gross weight. There are very few limits to what the form of that vehicle can be – it can be set up as a lorry, truck or a tractor-trailer setup in which you tow a trailer. Anyone who passed their drivers test before 1997 automatically has a C1 license as well, so it’s worth checking to see if this applies to you.


C1 + E –

his license is also commonly known as a 7.5 tonne + trailer license, and pretty much does what it says on that tin. It allows the driver to operate a vehicle with a gross weight of up to 7,500kg, with an attached trailer of over 750kg authorised mass. This is provided that the maximum authorised mass of the trailer is not more than the unladen weight of the vehicle being driven and that the combined maximum authorised mass of both the vehicle and the trailer doesn’t exceed 12,000kg. not complicated at all, right? It’s basically an upgrade on the standard C1 license, which means it can only be taken once the driver has already completed their C1 test and got the license.


C –

A Cat C license allows drivers to drive vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, but must not exceed 32 tonnes. Category C (or Class 2 as they are otherwise known) licenses typically cover a vehicle with a cab and trailer fixed permanently together. In other words, what we would consider a ‘standard lorry’. While you have this license your vehicle weight must not exceed 750 kilograms. This license is a stepping stone within HGV training – a way to move on to the category C and E license. You must be over 18 to have this license.


C + E –

A Cat C + E license is the most comprehensive HGV license you can hold. With this license, drivers can drive and handle a drawbar or articulated vehicle. The E part of the category C and E license stands for entitlement and means that the bearer can go up to or over 750 kilograms in weight. This particular license is also known as Class 1, allowing the driver to drive any large goods style vehicle needed, including a double trailer.


At HGV Training Cost, we are experts in providing bespoke training in all areas of HGV driving. From career options and logistics to basic maintenance skills and, of course, driving. You will get plenty of real-world driving experience as well as a healthy dose of theory to make sure you are the best HGV driver you can be. To find out more about how we can help you, just get in touch with us today.