Large goods vehicle

A heavy goods vehicle (HGV), also large goods vehicle (LGV) or medium goods vehicle, is the European Union (EU) term for any truck with a gross combination mass (GCM) of over 3,500 kilograms (7,716 lb).[1] Sub-category N2 is used for vehicles between 3,500 kilograms (7,716 lb) and 12,000 kilograms (26,455 lb) and N3 for all goods vehicles over 12,000 kilograms (26,455 lb) as defined in Directive 2001/116/EC. The term medium goods vehicle is used within parts of the UK government to refer to goods vehicles of between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes which according to the EU are also "large goods vehicles".[2]

Commercial carrier vehicles of up to 3,500 kilograms (7,716 lb) are referred to as light commercial vehicles and come into category N1. Confusingly though, parts of the UK government refer to these as "large goods vehicles" (also abbreviated "LGV"),[3] with the term LGV" appearing on tax discs for these smaller vehicles. Tax discs use the term "HGV" or "LGV" for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

HGV/LGVs must not exceed 44 tonnes' laden weight or 18.75 metres (61.5 ft) in length to cross boundaries in the EU, but longer and heavier vehicles (LHVs) known as Gigaliner, EuroCombi, EcoLiner, innovative commercial vehicle, mega-truck, etc., typically 25.25 metres (82.8 ft) long and weighing up to 70 tonnes are used in some countries, and the implications of allowing them to cross borders was being considered.[4]

Driver licensing

European Union

It is necessary to have an appropriate European driving licence to drive a large goods vehicle in the European Union. There are four categories:

  • Category C1 allows the holder to drive a large goods vehicle with a maximum authorised mass (gross vehicle weight) of up to 7,500 kilograms (16,535 lb) with a trailer having a maximum authorised mass of up to 750 kilograms (1,653 lb). This licence can be obtained at 18 years of age[5] and is the replacement for the HGV Class 3 in the UK [the old HGV Class 3 being any two-axle goods vehicle over 7,500 kilograms (16,535 lb)].
  • Category C1+E allows the holder to drive a large goods vehicle with a maximum authorised mass (gross vehicle weight) of up to 7,500 kilograms (16,535 lb) with a trailer over 750 kilograms (1,653 lb) maximum authorised mass, provided that the maximum authorised mass of the trailer does not exceed the unladen mass of the vehicle being driven, and provided that the combined maximum authorised mass of both the vehicle and trailer does not exceed 12,000 kilograms (26,455 lb).[5]
  • Category C allows the holder to drive any large goods vehicle with a trailer having a maximum authorised mass of up to 750 kilograms (1,653 lb).[5] This is effectively the new HGV Class 2 in the UK, the old HGV Class 2 being any rigid goods vehicle with more than two axles.
  • Category C+E: allows the holder to drive any large goods vehicle with a trailer having a maximum authorised mass of over 750 kilograms (1,653 lb).[5] This licence could only be obtained after 6 months' experience with a Class 2 truck, but more recently the law has changed so that it is now possible to take the tests back-to-back (Category C first then C+E the following week). This is the new Class 1 licence.


Drivers who passed a Category B (car) test before 1 January 1997, will have received Categories C1 and C1+E (Restriction Code 107: not more than 8,250 kilograms [18,188 lb]) through the Implied Rights issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) (more commonly known as Grandfather Rights).
All UK LGV licence holders must undergo a strict medical examination and eye test on application, at age 45 and every 5 years thereafter. On reaching 65 years of age, a medical examination must be performed on an annual basis. [6]


In the Canadian province of Ontario, drivers holding a Full Class A licence can drive Any truck/tractor trailer combination, A combination of motor vehicle and towed vehicles where the towed vehicles exceed a total gross weight of 4,600 kilograms (10,100 lb) and has air brakes, or a vehicle pulling double trailers.[7] Drivers holding a Class B (school bus), C (regular bus) or D (heavy truck) licence can drive A truck with a gross weight or registered gross weight exceeding 11,000 kilograms (24,000 lb) or any truck and trailer combination exceeding 11,000 kilograms' gross weight or registered gross weight provided the towed vehicle is not over 4,600 kilograms.

New Zealand

There are four classes of heavy vehicle licence: 2, 3, 4 and 5. Classes 1 and 6 are for light vehicles and motorcycles, respectively. The classes describe the characteristics of the vehicle, the weight limits and the maximum number of axles.

Drivers must begin with a class 2 (medium rigid vehicle) learner licence[8] before progressing to a class 3 medium combination vehicle licence or a class 4 heavy rigid vehicle licence. A class 5 (heavy combination vehicle) licence can only be earned after driving with a class 4 licence for a specific time-frame (depending on age), or completing an accelerated course.

As New Zealand has a graduated driver licensing system, drivers must pass a theory test before being allowed to drive on the road. They can then drive with a supervisor for six months followed by a practical test, or they can complete an accelerated heavy vehicle course.[9]


HGVs and their drivers are covered by strict regulations in many jurisdictions; for example, to improve safety, limit weight to that which will not excessively wear the transport infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.). The heavy weight of these vehicles leads to severe consequences for other road users in crashes; they are over-involved in fatal crashes,[1] and in a 2013 study in London, were found to cause a disproportionate number of the annual casualty toll of cyclists.[10]



ERF, Foden, Leyland Motors and its descendants

See also


  1. "Heavy goods vehicles". European Commission, Mobility and Transport, Road Safety. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  2. "Towing trailers with medium sized vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes". DirectGov.
  3. "The cost of vehicle tax". DirectGov. The cost of vehicle tax for cars, motorcycles, light goods vehicles and trade licences. Tax classes include: private/large goods vehicles, motorcycles and tricycles ... The cost of vehicle tax for buses and larger vehicles. Tax classes include buses, reduced pollution buses, general haulage, reduced pollution general haulage, recovery vehicles and private HGV
  4. "Position Paper: Longer and Heavier Vehicles" (PDF). European Transport Safety Council. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  5. "The vehicles you can drive or ride and minimum ages". DirectGov.
  6. "Applying for a provisional HGV licence". 23 January 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  7. "Licence Types". Government of Ontario - Ministry of Transportation. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  8. "Class 2 heavy vehicle licence". Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  9. "Approved heavy vehicle courses". NZ Transport Agency. Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  10. Lydall, Ross (26 April 2013). "Police stop and search lorries to cut cycle deaths". London Evening Standard. p. 1.

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