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Changes to the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence regime – consultation outcome

13 December 2023

Following a consultation process, the Department for Transport (DfT) has presented proposals to reform the current Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) regime. The proposals aim to improve flexibility and reduce time and cost burdens. 

When do these proposals apply?

The consultation proposals will not affect how DCPC is initially obtained and, instead, will only apply to maintaining or regaining DCPC status.

The changes that are proposed are only focused on those driving within Great Britain. Those driving to the EU will still need to comply with the requirements of the existing regime which derived from EU law. This means that there will be two parallel qualifications for driving in Great Britain. The first is a national DCPC (N-DCPC) which was subject to the consultation. The second is an international DCPC (I-DCPC) which is the current regime. Both will permit domestic driving, but, only the I-DCPC will allow for driving in the EU.

Government response to consultation

The government responded to the following proposals that were contained within the initial consultation:

a)      The introduction of a pass/fail test as an alternative, parallel option, to N-DCPC periodic training, so drivers have increased choice

The consultation considered different options for implementation of a periodic test, which included a new periodic test or re-sitting of the initial test, or an initial test re-sit of modules 1 and 2 of the initial DCPC qualification.

After reviewing the consultation responses, the government has decided to consult further on testing and will produce another consultation on the format this testing will take.

b)      Removal of the current minimum duration for training courses, currently set at 7 hours, or 3.5 hours when completed over 2 consecutive days

In order to increase the flexibility of DCPC renewal training, the DfT proposed to remove the current minimum time limit for N-DCPC training courses set at 7 hours, and replace this with a new minimum limit of 3.5 hours.

The government has decided to proceed with these proposed reforms to DCPC training.

c)      Removal of the requirement to complete split courses, including where part of this contains an element of e-learning, over 2 consecutive days

The DfT proposed to remove the current requirement to complete split courses over 2 consecutive days. In addition, it proposed to remove the requirement that only 2 hours of e-learning is permitted per training led course.

The government decided to remove both these requirements as they were seen to reduce flexibility during DCPC mandatory training.

d)      The introduction of a new specific pathway for previously experienced drivers, or returning drivers, to re-join the sector

Currently, returning drivers need to complete 35 hours of DCPC training to regain their DQC before they can begin driving for commercial purposes.

The DfT proposed to change this and implement a 7 hour 'return to training' module for returning drivers. It was proposed that the remaining 28 hours would need to be completed within 12 months of the 7 hour return to training module.

The proposals were accepted and a new pathway for returning drivers will be available by Spring 2025.

The response to the consulation also considered (i) permitting short term extensions to existing DCPCs and short term exemptions in exceptional circumstances; (ii) introducing an exchange and recognition scheme for DCPC equivalent qualifcations earned outside the UK; and (iii) replacing physical DCQs with electronic DCQs. However, whilst these proposals were all supported by respondents, the government is taking time to consider the most appropriate legislative means of implementing these proposals.

What happens next?

As set out above, some of the proposals will require additional consultation but it is hoped that the required secondary legislation will be laid down in Parliament in the Spring of 2024, with the aim of having the new regime in place for August 2024.

The responses of the Department for Transport can be found in full here. If you would like more information on the results of this consultation, or have any questions about it, a member of the DWF Transport team below would be more than happy to discuss.

Authors: Neena Sharma with help from Shaun Marshall

Further Reading