There is some confusion within the equine community over the new regulations introducing Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). This is totally understandable, as some of the regulations seem to disadvantage horsebox owners and driver. I will endeavour to simplify things!

The Driver CPC is for all UK drivers who drive professionally, those driving for reward or commercially in vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. This includes towing horse trailers with a car if the combined weight is over 3.5 tonnes and you are a professional rider.

Officially –

  • CPC DOES NOT apply to those who drive their horsebox purely in connection with hobby, pastime or leisure.
  • CPC DOES apply if you drive a horsebox as part of your profession, e.g. A rider driving their own and/or other horses to a competition, or transporting horses/livestock as part of your profession.

Remember also: if you are a professional rider, and you carry goods (i.e horses) in connection with your business, and your vehicle is over 3.5 tonnes, you will need to have an Operator’s licence as well as your CPC.


To qualify for your CPC you must take a four part test: a theory test, a CPC case studies test (on PC), a driving ability test and a Driver CPC practical demonstration test (which includes loadimg/unloading horses). Once you have completed the initial qualification you will receive a Driver Qualification Card (DQC), which you must carry with you while driving your horsebox. You must do 35 hours of periodic training every five years to keep your Driver CPC. Visit to get further information.

If you compete as an amateur rider then you will not need a Driver CPC. You still must ensure that your licence is correct, and that you do not drive a horsebox which you’re unentitled to, or tow a trailer that is not compatible with your car or licence. (See the Trailer Towing information box underneath.**)

Sadly, I disagree with the CPC ruling and think there is some prejudice towards the equine world. The official exemptions include “Vehicles used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods, for personal use”. How then is a professional’s horse considered as commercial goods? And ultimately if you are a professional rider, then surely driving a horsebox is not your principal activity. Hence you could argue that as a professional equestrian, you don’t need Driver CPC.

According to one of the exemptions examples:

Driver B is a self-employed bricklayer and drives his lorry to a building site with a load of bricks. He unloads the bricks and uses them in the construction of a house. He doesn’t need to have Driver CPC because driving the lorry is not his main activity and he’s carrying materials for his use in the course of bricklaying.

Firstly, the case could be argued that the bricks are in fact “goods for sale”, as the builder is making money by building the house that gets sold. How then is there need to have CPC for a professional rider, that transports his horse to a show, rides the horse and then brings it back again. There is no potential ‘good for sale’ issue as in the case of the brick layer. Although the rider may get a reward, so does the brick layer in the form of a wage/earning/sale. There are certainly grounds for disagreement and I would recommend speaking to the DVSA prior to booking any tests.

As a member of the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders), SvTech will be querying this ‘grey’ area with the Department of Transport, and will report back accordingly in the coming weeks.