https://movingon.blog.gov.uk/2018/03/27/vehicle-operator-licensing-a-digital-future/

Vehicle operator licensing: a digital future

In another of our guest blogs from the Traffic Commissioners, they explain why they're moving away from paper licensing applications.

Whether it’s buying vehicles, checking a bank balance, paying a tax bill or filing a Companies House return, practically every business transaction can be done online now.

And, as commercial vehicle operators, you’re just as savvy as everyone else in doing things digitally.

From 1 April 2018, our paper application forms won't be available to download on GOV.UK and we wanted to tell you why.

Your future's digital

When the new Vehicle Operator Licensing (VOL) service launched in 2016, it gave operators the chance to do more online.

For example, we’ve recently introduced GOV.UK Verify which allows you to sign an application digitally for the first time.

But, we want to get more people using VOL service. There’s lots of advantages if you do – especially if you’re trying to get some extra vehicles on your licence or pay your continuation fees.

You’ll also get quicker decisions if you’re a compliant operator. The average processing time for online goods and PSV major applications is currently 6 weeks. Paper applications take much longer to process (on average nearly 9 weeks).

Why people still use paper

Our paper application forms are still available online and we know lots of people downloaded them in 2017. In fact, there were over 27,000 views of the HGV application form alone on GOV.UK.

So, we’ve done some research to find out why people are still applying by paper when the digital service is available.

It’s been really interesting to hear about the ways you run your businesses and how you view the operator licensing service. We spoke to operators from different sectors, those running start-ups and existing businesses, as well as sole traders and larger firms.

What we’ve found is that you’re already using online accounts and working digitally in most areas of your business. But when it comes to operator licensing, people in the industry often recommend using the paper forms because that’s what they’ve always done.

It’s not that you don’t want to apply for extra vehicles or update your address details online. It’s just that, some of you still associate operator licensing with a paper application.

Getting the best service

We want you to get the best service as a compliant operator and this means encouraging more people to apply online.

That's why, from 1 April 2018 you won’t be able to download our paper forms from GOV.UK. They’ll still be available through the Contact Centre for operators who don’t have access to our digital services though.

The Traffic Commissioners perform a really important gatekeeper role in deciding who gets to run vehicles and how many they can operate. That won’t change, because more applications are made online and can be processed more quickly.

Find out more about VOL and sign up.

24 comments

  1. Comment by Mike Webber posted on

    Is there a date set in stone when paper applications will cease?

    • Replies to Mike Webber>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello Mike

      There are no plans to stop paper applications.

  2. Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner posted on

    Hello Jeremy- I can confirm that for applications lodged digitally (unless the application is subject to a standard audit check), applicants will not need to provide any paper documents, and will be able to upload their information digitally to the application. For applicants applying using paper forms however, they must still meet the same requirements.

  3. Comment by Peter Murphy posted on

    Going fully digital increases cyber risk, paper is a good "plan B". The incidence of cyber attack and hacking will only increase, what steps are in place to recompense operators who follow your edicts but come unstuck through no fault of their own?
    Over reliance on technology could paralyse the industry bringing great and immediate harm to the nation as a whole. I keep paper records of everything and will continue to do so.HMRC and Vat expect me to be able to prove my accounts and digital copies are not accepted.
    Remember what damage was done to the NHS and medical practices by cyber attack last year, it could well happen again.

    • Replies to Peter Murphy>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello Peter
      Thank you for your comments. I can confirm that VOL has measures in place to address security of the system but as I'm sure you'll appreciate I can't go into details.

  4. Comment by Adam Thomas posted on

    Surely this is simplification through obfuscation. The forms will still be available, just hard to get hold of. A manual application will still be acceptable, its just frowned upon. In a society of open information, hiding a form in the center of a maze seems perverse. Will the guidance forms (GV79G/TM1G) still be available online I wonder? I echo the concern regarding Ops CPC examination materials and look forward to finding out how SQA will address this development.

    This creeping 'webification' has already taken its toll with the demise of the pdf edition of GV262 - Drivers' Hours, and I fully expect 'Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness' and 'Enforcement Sanctions Policy' to follow. This publication was downloadable and searchable as a single document, thus making it a valuable resource for drivers and managers. Now it has been replaced with a suite of linked web pages that provide the same information and better formatting/graphics, but can only be accessed while online and cannot be printed as a document for those who wish to keep hardcopy to hand.

    It is inevitable that this process will continue, creating web documents that can be edited and amended without the expense of re-formatting a whole publication. The difficulty will be tracking the changes to these virtual publications and knowing when the document has been 're-issued'. Winston Smith's work just got easier...

    • Replies to Adam Thomas>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello Adam
      Thank you for your comments.
      The Guidance forms you refer to will be available from the Contact Centres. If individuals are completing forms online, the guidance is part of the online process. We are promoting digital applications as it helps us deliver quicker decisions. As an example, digital applications for new licences and major variations are being processed against a 7 week target. Paper remains at 9 weeks. The reason for quicker decisions is because digital applications arrive in the office already input on our system and ready to be considered by our caseworkers. They are published automatically in statutory publications. which means statutory objection periods "end" sooner. Paper applications take time in the post, upon receipt require inputting onto VOL before the caseworker can consider and then manually publish which adds time. Current processing time for main digital applications is less than 6 weeks.
      The other forms you refer to are outside VOL's remit but I have noted your comments. Thanks again.

  5. Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner posted on

    Hello Jeremy- I can confirm that for applications lodged digitally (unless the application is subject to a standard audit check), applicants will not need to provide any paper documents, and will be able to upload their information digitally to the application. For applicants applying using paper forms however, they must still meet the same requirements. Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner

  6. Comment by Jerry Coulson posted on

    Does this include not having to send original copies of your CPC when completing TM1 online?

    • Replies to Jerry Coulson>

      Comment by Ian Akinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello Jerry
      If you are completing an application digitally you are not required to send in original documentation- however as part of quality audits a small number of applicants will be required to send in original documents after the application has been processed.

  7. Comment by A K TAYLOR posted on

    makes sense

  8. Comment by geoffc posted on

    Will this be the end of paper license discs also?

    • Replies to geoffc>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello geoffc
      Paper discs fall outside of these changes.

  9. Comment by Rich posted on

    Is there any further information on what forms are being withdrawn from GOV.UK ? TM1 / GV72 / GV81 ?

    • Replies to Rich>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello Rich

      From 1 April all forms (with the exception of surrender forms and transfer of operating centre forms) will only be available as paper copies by contacting the DVSA Customer Service centre or NI Direct for Northern Ireland. On 1 April the GOV.UK pages will change to reflect this new process.

  10. Comment by Andy Wing posted on

    'practically every business transaction can be done online now.'

    However, to buy your first digital tachograph card please send a cheque or postal order!

    • Replies to Andy Wing>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello Andy

      Tachograph cards are not part of VOL and therefore fall outsidethese changes

  11. Comment by Friendberry Limited posted on

    Candidates sitting the Operator CPC exam are still required, by the examination board, to know what information has to be included on the application form.
    Operator CPC is an open book examination and no electronics are allowed. So candidates take in copies of the forms - GV79 / PSV421 etc.
    How do you suggest this is addressed from the 1st of April 2018.

    • Replies to Friendberry Limited>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello, all VOL forms will be available as paper forms through the relevant Contact Centre.
      GOV.UK pages will change on 1 April to reflect this

  12. Comment by Trevor posted on

    It's progress! Most people are forgetting how to write anyway? Can't be long before we don't even need keyboards, bluetooth direct from the brain maybe?
    Transport seems to be carrying an ever increasing burden of legislation and regulation. Digital communication won't reduce that, in fact the increase in speed and precise location of documents is likely to enable the generation of even more! If going digital means more time is available to make the job and roads safer, great. Hopefully this will be reflected in future accident statistics?

  13. Comment by Robert posted on

    So I still have to send you a paper form to renew tacho cards, both personal AND company - where I also have to send you an old fashioned cheque - cant even pay online. Surely doing this online with the number of drivers should be a high priority.

    • Replies to Robert>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

      Hello Robert
      Tacho cards are not part of VOL and are therefore outside of these changes.

  14. Comment by Robert Rapson posted on

    I would like to concur with the previous correspondent regarding Bank Statements.

  15. Comment by Jeremy Hughes posted on

    But what happens when you are requested to provide financial information and the Dvsa refuses to accept copies of bank statements from online accounts unless there are stamped which banks will not or do not like doing.