With the national shortage of HGV drivers hitting an all time high, there has never been a better time to become a HGV driver. But what if you’re not a UK citizen? What if you know how to drive a HGV, and have been professionally in your own country, but want to move to the UK for a more stable role? You might want to apply for a work visa to allow you into the country. That might sound like a simple process, but in reality, there are a few things you need to bear in mind.
The UK Government is pretty strict – and clear – about the rules around work visas. And when it comes to work visas, you have a pretty big choice. There are 5 types of long-term work visas available for the UK, as well as 7 short-term work visa options. Unless you are being sponsored in by an employer (which would mean a different type of visa), you will probably need to apply for a General Work Visa (Tier 2), which means you’re a general worker looking to work in the UK, not in one of the specialised named fields with their own visas.
If you are applying for an industry that has a shortage of workers in the UK (like HGV driving), you can apply for a work permit for up to 3 years, your fees will be reduced. At time of writing, a work visa just for yourself will cost just £464.
The thing that’s going to cause a stumbling block is less likely to be the actual work permit, but the qualifications you need. Because to drive a HGV professionally in the UK you need:
You see, the rules around driving HGVs for a living are quite clear, and the rules around driving in the UK with a foreign licence are also quite clear.
If you just want to drive a small vehicle, like a car or a motorbike, then all you need is a valid licence for those vehicles from your own country. This will allow you to drive in the UK for 12 months from the date you last entered the country, for your own personal purposes. These rules very specifically don’t cover driving professionally, or driving larger vehicles like HGVs.
If you want to drive a HGV professionally in Britain, then you will need the 3 qualifications listed above, all trained for and issued in the UK. This means that, unless you are being sponsored in by an employers (who will then support you through the training as part of the visa), you are unlikely to be able to find a job as soon as you come into the country. You will need to train first, which means you might need to rethink your visa choice.
If you do want to come to the UK to work as an HGV driver, then it’s not impossible. It just means you need to do some training before you apply for your visa, or have it lined up ready for when you arrive. This includes studying and passing your standard UK drivers test (which should be simple if you can already drive, and can usually be fast-tracked in these cases). You will then need to take your Driver CPC. This stands for Certificate of Professional Competence, and proves that you are safe to drive a HGV in the UK. Every UK HGV driver has to hold one of these, and if you are a HGV driver already in your own country, it should be pretty simple for you to work through. After all that, the final step is to choose and take your HGV qualification. This will depend on what type of vehicle you want to drive. If you’re not sure what to choose, get in touch and we’ll be happy to talk you through the options.
At The LGV Training Centre, we believe that everyone as the right to become a HGV driver if they want to. That’s why we provide information, support and training to aspiring new HGV drivers, as well as experienced drivers who need to re-train in order to drive in the UK. If you need a training school that understands your circumstances with work visas, and will tailor our approach to suit you, we’d be happy to help. Just get in touch with the team today for more information.