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Vehicle operator licensing: how we develop our services for industry

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Operator licence

A laptop showing vehicle details on the vehicle operator licensing service. Including option to filter by VRM and disc. Shows support number: 0113 245 3300. Displays a list of vehicles including gross plated weight in kilograms, date specified and disc number.

In another of our guest blogs from the traffic commissioners, we find out about the latest developments for online operator licensing services.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the countless vehicle changes you make online?

Or the variation application you submit digitally to open a new operating centre?

Or the updates you make to your licence record through VOL?

Our digital team work hard to make sure those online services are always available so your business can keep running smoothly.

And because we’re a service on GOV.UK, the team is constantly looking to improve the vehicle operator licensing (VOL) system.

We listen

To do this we listen to what you need.

That’s how we develop new services. Our team visit operators like you and find out how your business runs and what challenges you face when operating commercial vehicles.

With this information, we make VOL better and provide more efficient ways to manage your licence.

We recently introduced the Verify service to allow transport managers to use digital signatures. 83% of users said they’d be willing to use this service to sign applications.

Verify is already in place for new applications and licence continuations.

We build services

Our developers work out what you need to do as a user to carry out a task, such as completing a digital signature. Then they write down what’s needed to develop it.

Once it’s built and added to VOL, they test it to make sure there aren’t any problems. After that, it’s made available to you, our users.

At the moment, the VOL team is focused on introducing digital licence surrenders. This means you’ll soon be able to apply online to give up a licence you don’t need any more, instead of filling in the paper forms.

It’s one more step towards making all of our major transactions digital and part of continuously improving the service.

We support compliance

VOL’s not just a service used by operator licence holders and transport managers. The database behind the system actually helps DVSA examiners at the roadside.

When a vehicle’s stopped, they’re able to check if it’s properly licensed using their smartphones. Over 700 enforcement staff have access to live data from VOL at the roadside.

That’s because the traffic commissioners and DVSA have an agreement to share data which helps the agency to carry out its enforcement work effectively.

We want to make sure you’re happy

One of our most important jobs is to find out how you’re using the service and what you think of it.

Our user research shows 82% of you are satisfied with your experience of VOL and you’ve given us some really positive feedback.

Take up for our digital services is at 82% too. We’re delighted so many of you are using VOL.

If you want to be part of our user research in the future and help us improve our services, please email: or leave your comments below.

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  1. Comment by Toby Goldsmith posted on

    VOL is a great and easy to use system but it’s concerning that this error 20 message is still causing issues for some of us. Do we have any idea yet as to what the issue is and when it will be sorted?

  2. Comment by Mike Voyle - FTA instructor/auditor posted on

    It could be a major confidence boost to those who are considering using VOLs for the first time, if there was a simulation facility. Operators and applicants who may be nervous of tech, could familiarise themselves with VOLs operation without the perceived risk of commitment etc.

    • Replies to Mike Voyle - FTA instructor/auditor>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson posted on

      Hello Mike. Thank you for your comment. Example videos on how to apply for a licence and make changes to a licence are available on the DVSA YouTube channel (professional Drivers and Operators section) and we'd encourage anyone thinking about using the digital service to look at those.

      Applicants can also run through an application on GOV.UK at their pace as the application can be saved throughout prior to formal submission. There's also online guidance throughout to assist with that process.

      Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner

  3. Comment by Q Wilson posted on

    Do you still need to display a paper O license disc in the window?

    • Replies to Q Wilson>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on


      Yes. Any vehicle specified on a licence should display an operator’s licence disc.



    • Replies to Q Wilson>

      Comment by Q Wilson posted on

      Thanks Chris for answering my question.

  4. Comment by Wayne Wealleans posted on

    I would like to be able to print a properly formatted vehicle list. Currently it seems to print a bit like a screen print, including the side and bottom slides.

    • Replies to Wayne Wealleans>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner posted on

      Hello Wayne- thank you for your comment. If you click "More Actions" and select "Export" this will give you a CSV file with details of all your vehicles which can be easily viewed in Excel.

      • Replies to Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner>

        Comment by Wayne Wealleans posted on

        Thanks Ian
        That's most helpful.
        Kind Regards

    • Replies to Wayne Wealleans>

      Comment by P B Phillips posted on

      Export as a CSV file then you can print in any manner you want

  5. Comment by Peter Basnett posted on

    I have found VOL to be a very efficient service and quite easy to navigate the various screens. To date I have no negative interactions with the system.
    I would be happy to participate in user research in the future

    • Replies to Peter Basnett>

      Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner posted on

      Thank you Peter. We'll add you to our list and we'll be in touch soon!

      • Replies to Ian Atkinson VOL Service Owner>

        Comment by Ian Atkinson VOL Service owner posted on

        Hello Peter

        If you can send your contact details to we'll be in touch. Thanks

  6. Comment by Nicola Novak posted on

    We have been advised to add trailers onto VOL but there is currently no check to make sure there are no duplications or a search function, if this is a requirement for earned recognition can the facility be the same as for vehicles?

    • Replies to Nicola Novak>

      Comment by Chris (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Nicola

      The ability to search for trailers is not currently a feature of the VOL system. As we work to improve and develop the system to meet user needs and priorities, a search function for trailers may be examined.