In order for you to use your vocational licence for work purposes, you may need to hold an additional qualification called drivers CPC. CPC stands for 'Certificate of Professional Competence and it is an ongoing training programme.
There are some exemptions to requiring a CPC card but in most cases, driving lorries or buses for work purposes involves you holding this qualification.
Your card will be valid for 5 years and within each 5 year period, a driver must complete 35 hours of periodic training to qualify for a further 5-year card. As most periodic training courses are 7 hours in length, in reality, this means each driver should complete ONE 7 hour course per year to accumulate the 35 hours and qualify for the next 5 years.
Once you hold a CPC card, you MUST carry it with you each time you drive for work to avoid penalties.
Penalties are severe if you are caught driving for work either without holding the card on your person or if you have not completed the CPC qualification at all.
If you passed your car (Cat B) Driving test after January 1997, there is only one way to gain your first driver CPC card. This is called 'Initial CPC'. It involves you taking a theory multiple choice test called 'Case Studies', followed by a practical test whereby you show the examiner a practical demonstration of your knowledge on how to complete a daily walk around check or how to deal with emergency situations such as an engine bay fire whilst driving on the motorway. There are separate CPC qualifications for HGV and PCV so if you want CPC in both categories, you must complete the case studies and practical tests separately. Once you hold your first CPC card, you then fall into the same category as other drivers whereby you must complete 35 hours of periodic training to maintain your driver CPC.
If you passed your car (Cat B) Driving test before January 1997, you have the choice to either complete the initial CPC as above to gain your first CPC card or you can go straight into the 35 hours. You will not receive your CPC card until you have completed the 35 hours or the initial CPC so you still can not drive for work purposes until you actually hold the qualification. The bonus about completing in this way is that it is not test based at all. The periodic CPC is an attendance course and unless the course you have picked involves a test, the CPC completion should not involve any form of testing. The downside is that it takes up 5 days of your working week to complete.