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  • Writer's pictureMartyn

Licence applications - how long does it really take?

Anyone visiting the public counter at Leeds Traffic Area office will no doubt have seen the statistics on the wall that over 90% of both online and paper applications being processed within the advertised 9 weeks.

Yet many operators applying for a licence to run trucks or PSV's are still complaining about the wait, with lurid stories of delays of over 6 months abounding.

So with the Senior Traffic Commissioner announcing in their strategic objectives the need to streamline to application process (and wait) for operator licences, let's look at the reasons it takes as long as it does, and the common reasons for substantial delays;

1. Legislation on processing of data dates back to the early 1990's in many cases, causing administrative delays.

2. The civil service is under-funded/overworked - dealing with the caseworkers at Leeds as often as I do, I know this is a fact, not just my opinion. Due to the government cuts, the workloads of staff at DVSA and the office of the traffic commissioner have steeply inclined in recent years, meaning delays all round.

3. Regulators typically work backwards from 'worst case scenarios' and attention to detail in getting it right means 'red tape' and due process consume time.

4. Money laundering legislation means many caseworkers have to go 'down the rabbit hole' with some inquiries around financial matters, despite the situation appearing innocent or self-explanatory, financial matters have to be adequately investigated to satisfy the standards the departments have to work to.

Common mistakes on the part of the applicant include:

1. Not completing the forms properly or answering questions incorrectly - your answers are checked against a wide range of databases and other inquiries where information is held about you or your company/associates. An incorrect answer may not necessarily be treated as an attempt to cover up the truth, but getting to the bottom of it causes delays. Failure to declare a previous bankruptcy, winding-up or liquidation of a company is a starter for ten!

2. Not getting the newspaper advertisement right - timing is everything here, it's my advice that this should be the first thing you do BEFORE submitting the application.

3. Discrepancies with finances - if some finances are not in the company name, large sums have been deposited shortly before applying or financial standing is not met, this will jeopardize the application.

4. Objections to the operating centre, including previous environmental issues listed can trigger a referral to the environmental team and delay an application by at least 3 months, so choose wisely!

This is not an exhaustive list, just a pointer to remind applicants of the pitfalls. Having processed over a dozen HGV O-Licence applications and variations in the last couple of years, I know full well what to look for when needing to get a client up and running soon, so the advice is available.

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