12 April, 2016

Regulations For Driving Old Service/Commercial Vehicles

When you go to classic car shows or events around the world, one of the most interesting sights is seeing old service and commercial vehicles restored to their former glory. Whether it is a vintage police car or transport vehicle, there is little doubt that having one of these vehicles is just as great to own as it is to see at a show. If you are looking to take the plunge and become an owner of an old service or commercial vehicle there are a number of laws and regulations you should consider.


Current laws on MOTs in the UK mean that vehicles that were made before 1960 can be exempt from periodic testing.

Classic commercial/service vehicles which don't require testing include:

  • Pre-1960 buses and public service vehicles with 8 seats or more that are used commercially (unless substantially changed)
  • Buses that are over 40 years old and are not public service vehicles when declared as a vehicle of historical interest
  • Large goods vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes) first used before 1960 and used unladen (unless substantially changed)

If any modifications have been done to your vehicle since 1960 then this is also something that may affect whether your vehicle is liable to be exempt from an MOT. Depending on how large the restorations or changes, you may need to go through the process of registering your vehicle and applying for an MOT. The government has published a substantial change guidance document to help owners understand if their classic vehicle requires an MoT.


Though many standard vehicles are included in the conventional category B drivers’ license, there are a number of transport types that require a more advanced license.

It is worth checking this e-leaflet from the DVLA to find out what category your vehicle falls under, and what license is required.


If you are looking to drive your old commercial/service vehicle on roads then make sure you have a look through the government's road vehicle requirements, to make sure that it is safe and ready for road use.

As impressive as it would be to drive a fully functional classic police car or fire engine on the roads, there are a lot of regulations that make this difficult. If these regulations are ignored it could lead to a potential loss of license or fines.

If you are dead set on it, make sure that you make the fact that it is a classic or replica police car as obvious as possible. Remove any blue lights from the roof of the car, as well as any logos that may still be present. This may sound a bit excessive for prospective classic car collectors, but that is why many who choose to collect this kind of service vehicle use it purely for shows and demonstrations.


Most commercial and service vehicles have been registered before, but if your chosen transport is truly vintage and potentially hasn’t been taxed since 1983, it might not be. Make sure you check to see if your vehicle is registered with the DVLA before driving it and, if not, register it by following these steps on the government's website.

If it isn't registered, the process for new registrations isn't too difficult unless the vehicle has been heavily modified. If this is the case then an in-person inspection of the vehicle will likely be required.


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