HGV Licence or LGV Licence – Is There a Difference?

If you have been researching this topic for some time, you may have observed that the terms HGV and LGV are often used interchangeably. This might lead you to wonder what sets apart an HGV licence from an LGV licence, or if they are essentially the same thing. You might also encounter related terms such as HGV driver grandfather rights with regards to the Driver CPC. For individuals who are new to driving, navigating through these inquiries can be confusing. Thus, we aim to offer clarification, ensuring that you understand the specific licence requirement when seeking training providers.


The term LGV is generally used to refer to 2 different types of commercial vehicles. The first is ‘Light Goods Vehicles’, which includes any commercial carrier vehicle with a gross weight of up to 3.5 tonnes. If the weight tips over this, then it falls into the second LGV definition, which we’ll get to in a second. Light vehicles include vans, pickup trucks and even some three-wheeled commercial vehicles. You can usually drive this type of vehicle on a standard car licence.

In addition, the acronym LGV can also be employed to describe ‘Large Goods Vehicles’, which is the designated term used by the European Union for vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes. This category encompasses a variety of vehicles, including flatbed trucks, refrigerated trucks, curtain side lorries, box vans, drop sides, tippers, ADR, HiAb, and Moffett. It is important to note that any vehicle surpassing this weight threshold requires its own distinct licence category. Therefore, if you intend to operate vehicles exceeding this weight, it is crucial to obtain the appropriate licence for the specific vehicle type.


Let’s discuss the term HGV, which stands for ‘heavy goods vehicles‘. It is often mistaken for the LGV licence due to their similarity in terms of licensing. However, The term HGV is primarily related to taxation rather than licensing. When tax discs were first introduced, vehicles were classified into different categories based on their construction, engine, weight, fuel type, emissions, and purpose of use to determine their appropriate road tax. The term ‘LGV’ was used for light commercial vehicles weighing under 3.5 tonnes, and it was printed on the tax disc. To avoid confusion, a new classification was needed for larger commercial vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes, which led to the use of the term HGV. This classification has since become widely accepted.

In essence, these terms refer to identical vehicles, albeit in various settings. It should not be perplexing for individuals seeking the appropriate licence type.

Licence Categories

In regards to licensing, there exist several notable distinctions. Due to the presence of various types of commercial vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes, licensing authorities have established distinct licence categories to assess drivers’ abilities. It is essential to possess the appropriate licence in order to operate specific types of vehicles, prompting drivers to make early decisions unless they intend to obtain licences for all categories. For your convenience, we have compiled a comprehensive list of all the categories below.

C1 –

The initial phase of HGV training and licensing, known as Category C1, is considered to be a fundamental level. It serves as an upgrade from a standard UK driver’s licence and enables the individual to operate a vehicle weighing up to 3,500 kilograms, provided that the gross weight of the vehicle does not exceed 7.5 tonnes. The specific configuration of the vehicle is relatively flexible, as it can be in the form of a lorry, truck, or tractor-trailer setup with a towed trailer. Additionally, individuals who successfully obtained their driver’s licence before 1997 are automatically issued a C1 licence, making it worthwhile to verify if this applies to you.

C1 + E

The licence commonly referred to as a 7.5 tonne + trailer licence allows drivers to operate a vehicle with a gross weight of up to 7,500kg, along with an attached trailer weighing over 750kg authorised mass. However, it is important to note that the maximum authorised mass of the trailer should not exceed the vehicle’s unladen weight, and the combined maximum authorised mass of both the vehicle and trailer must not exceed 12,000kg. This licence is an upgrade from the standard C1 licence and can only be obtained once the driver has successfully completed their C1 test and acquired the licence.

C –

If you possess A category C licence, you have the authority to operate vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes, but it is important to note that they should not exceed 32 tonnes. Commonly referred to as Class 2 licences, category C licences pertain to vehicles with a permanently attached cab and trailer. In simpler terms, this refers to a standard lorry. However, it’s crucial to bear in mind that while holding this licence, the weight of your vehicle must not surpass 750kg. This licence serves as a transitional phase in HGV training, allowing individuals to progress towards obtaining a category C and E licence. It is worth noting that candidates must be 18 years or older to qualify for this licence.

C + E

The category C + E licence is considered the most extensive HGV licence available. It grants drivers the ability to operate drawbar or articulated vehicles. The E component of this licence signifies entitlement and permits the driver to handle vehicles weighing 750kg or more. Commonly referred to as Class 1, this licence authorises drivers to operate various types of large goods vehicles, including those with double trailers.