What is an ADR Licence and Who Needs One?

Posted on 23rd June 2023 By Geoff_Leapfrog

HGV lorry with ADR signs on it

On its own, an HGV driving licence equips you to drive “heavy goods vehicles”, like trucks and lorries throughout the United Kingdom. Acquiring your HGV certification shows you have the skills required to manage the complex components and equipment in an HGV. However, the standard certification will only prepare you to drive certain types of heavy vehicles, with specific loads. 

For instance, as a standard HGV driver, you might be able to transport food and machinery, among other things, to different locations within the UK. However, some driving jobs involving HGVs might involve the transportation of other, more dangerous goods, such as flammable materials and chemicals. If you want to apply for one of these roles (and a potentially higher wage), you’ll need an additional form of certification, known as an ADR licence. 

Here’s everything you need to know about ADR licences, and why they’re so important. 

What is an ADR Licence?

An ADR licence is a certification which identifies a driver as being compliant with a set of EU regulations, known as the “Accord European relative au transport international des merchandises Dangereuses par Route”. The regulations are recognised by most European countries, as well as the United Kingdom. Each country that complies with ADR needs to implement specific safety measures, to ensure dangerous equipment is transported safely on the roads. 

With an ADR licence, professionals can safely and legally transport a wider range of goods both throughout the UK, and to other regions in the European Union. Without this licence, you wouldn’t be able to cross borders freely, and you could get into trouble for driving with certain cargo. 

An ADR licence is essentially an accompanying accreditation to your HGV certification. You’ll need to be qualified as a HGV driver, and have a Certificate of Professional Competency (CPC), as well as your ADR licence if you want to become an ADR driver

When you’re driving an ADR, you’ll also need to carry various documents with you alongside your ADR and CPC certificates, such as emergency instructions (in writing) and transport documents with information about each dangerous material. 

Who Needs an ADR Licence?

Any individual responsible for driving a vehicle which contains dangerous substances (such as flammable, toxic, or radioactive materials), needs an ADR licence. 

Once you earn your certificate (and the accompanying accreditations), you’ll be permitted to transport a wider range of potentially dangerous goods, such as:

  • Corrosive substances
  • Radioactive materials
  • Toxic substances
  • Flammable liquids or solids
  • Gasses
  • Explosives

You could even pursue a role which involves the transportation of petrol and diesel to fuel stations around the country. However, this does require you to apply for a Petroleum Driver Passport too. 

If you’re driving an HGV which includes loads of dangerous goods below certain volumes, parts of the ADR requirement might not apply, or may apply in a modified form. However, because the exemptions can be difficult to navigate, it’s often recommended for anyone planning on transporting any form of dangerous materials to get this licensure. 

How Do You Get an ADR Licence?

Getting an ADR licence involves first completing your HGV training and earning your CPC certificate. There’s no specific time period to wait between earning your HGV accreditation and taking ADR training – so you can get started straight away. 

The training process involves a training course which usually lasts at least a few days. During the training period, you’ll learn about the hazards involved in carrying dangerous goods, and how you can take steps before each journey to prevent incidents from occurring. You’ll also gain step-by-step instructions on the measures you need to take with your HGV to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of the environment and the public around you. 

ADR training courses are designed to ensure every driver in the transportation industry dealing with dangerous goods can operate securely on the road. Many courses are broken down into around 9 different classes, each representing different styles of “dangerous products” you might need to transport. There’s also a core class which ensures you get the practical experience you need to operate under the regulations implemented by ADR. 

After you’ve taken the training (sometimes alongside other people who have obtained the qualification, or people training for the test), you’ll be able to take an assessment. The assessment involves a number of multiple choice quizzes designed to test your knowledge of safe transportation. 

Once you’ve passed the test, you will be sent an ADR certification card. You’ll need to keep this with you whenever you’re driving a vehicle which contains dangerous goods. Additionally, ADR test graduates are required to update their qualifications every five years. 

Why ADR Licences Important?

ADR licences are important because they help to keep everyone on the road as safe as possible. In the HGV landscape, drivers can be responsible for transporting a huge range of different kinds of materials. While any HGV can be considered slightly more dangerous than a regular car, due to its size, those containing dangerous materials can be particularly problematic. 

ADR training and licences help drivers keep not just themselves safe, but the wider public too. Knowing how to avoid accidents and keep dangerous goods secure can reduce the risk of explosions, toxic gas leakage, and other disastrous problems around your vehicle. 

Aside from keeping you and other people safe, an ADR licence also opens new opportunities for you as an HGV driver. It ensures you can apply for a wider range of jobs and roles. Some companies requiring employees to transport dangerous goods will pay much higher wages than the standard HGV employer. This could mean you could access a better salary and more benefits. 

Additionally, your ADR licence will ensure you can travel further with the goods you’re transporting, so you could end up driving across European borders. 

Do You Need an ADR Licence?

An ADR licence is something any HGV driver should consider getting. If you’re planning on applying for a wide range of roles, transporting different goods throughout the UK and European Union, an ADR licence may provide you with access to more opportunities. 

Just remember, you’re going to need to get your HGV and CPC licence first, so you can operate the vehicles you’re going to be using to transport goods. To start on your path to ADR driving, contact the Surrey and Hampshire HGV training team today. 

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