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Heavy Vehicle Licencing in Australia

To drive a commercial truck in Australia, you will need a Heavy Vehicle Licence. According to The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), any motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass exceeding 4.5 tonnes is classified as a heavy vehicle.

The Gross Vehicle Mass is the maximum weight of a vehicle when fully loaded as specified by the manufacturer, including the vehicle’s body, chassis, engine, fuel, engine fluids, driver, passengers, cargo, etc. You can learn quite a lot about any given vehicle’s manufacturer specifications from the dealer, as part of the heavy truck sales process. You can also learn a lot from finance brokers, like this one that offers best rate camper loans, as well as equipment and truck financing.

MINIMUM DRIVING EXPERIENCE

Before applying to drive larger, more complex vehicles, you need to drive smaller, lower-class vehicles for a specified period. The type of vehicle you wish to drive will affect the class on your licence and each class will require you to fulfill certain criteria.

Heavy Vehicle licences in Australia are issued in 5 different classes:

Light Rigid (LR)

These are a motor vehicle with a GVM exceeding 4.5 tonnes but less than 8 tonnes. Classic examples include: vans, special purpose vehicles, buses for more than 13 passengers and small trucks.

To apply for this licence you must have had a class C licence for more than 1 year. C class vehicles are motor vehicles designed to seat less than 12 people and weighing no more than 4.5 tonnes.

Medium Rigid (MR)

This category includes buses and trucks with a GVM exceeding 8 tonnes and having 2 axles. MR vehicles must not have any towed trailer weighing more than 9 tonnes. To apply for an MR licence you must have had a C class licence for an equivalent of 1 year or more.

Heavy Rigid (HR)

The HR class includes buses and trucks with a GVM exceeding 9 tonnes, 3 or more axles (whether or not the axles are on the road) and a trailer weighing no more than 9 tonnes. Bendy Buses, even articulated ones, are treated as heavy rigid vehicles.

To drive a heavy rigid vehicle, you must have had a C class licence for over 2 years. You can also be eligible having had a Light Rigid or Medium Rigid Vehicle license for at least 1 year.

Heavy combination (HC)

These are prime movers or rigid motor vehicles with a trailer combination of more than 9 tonnes including any unladen converter dolly. To apply for a Heavy Combination Licence, you need to have a medium rigid or heavy rigid licence for more than 1 year.

Multi Combination (MC)

The MC class includes prime movers with a combination of motor vehicles such as B doubles or road trains. To apply for this type of licence you must have held an HC or HR licence for at least 1 year.

Learner licence time is exempted but the time you spend on a P1 licence counts. Any duration in which you were disqualified from driving or that your licence was suspended is deducted in calculating your minimum driving experience.

All Australian states have the same licence classes. However, if you move to a different state and reside there for more than 3 months, you need to surrender your licence and apply for a new one.

BASIC REQUIREMENTS

In addition to holding licences of lower-class vehicles, other basic requirements include:

-Be at least 19 years of age
-Pass an eyesight test
-Complete and pass the knowledge test applicable to the class of vehicle you wish to drive
-Pass the driving test for an on-road heavy vehicle assessment
-Pass the driving test for an off-road heavy vehicle assessment
-Certificate of fitness to confirm that you meet the national medical standards to drive a heavy vehicle
-Licence variation fee

TRAINING

Your training for a heavy vehicle can be conducted under the supervision of:

-An accredited provider
-Driving school
-Licenced instructor
-Your employer or
-Any person with a current heavy vehicle licence for the type of vehicle you wish to drive

When learning to drive, you must always ensure that “DRIVER UNDER INSTRUCTION” plates are displayed at both the front and back of the vehicle.

During your training, read your learner’s handbook so you know what skills you are expected to learn and also update your logbook with progress you’ve made, until you pass your final test with an accredited provider.

Applicants for Heavy Combination (HV) and Multi Combination (MC) licences must complete and pass a formal training course.

COMPETENCY TEST

Contact an accredited provider to arrange a time and date for your competency-based assessment test. The competency test examines your knowledge about heavy vehicles road rules and your skills as a competent driver.

Only accredited assessors can conduct the competency-based test. Each accredited assessor is a licenced driving instructor so they can both train and assess applicants.

Your accredited provider should also provide you with information about the costs involved.

After you have completed your training and testing, you will be required to pass one final competency assessment. If you successfully pass the final competency assessment, your accredited provider will give you a Certificate of Competency.

You can choose any type of heavy vehicle to train in and be assessed with as long as it is roadworthy and belongs to the class of licence you are applying for. It’s important to note that if you are assessed with a heavy vehicle fitted with a synchromesh transmission, such condition will be added to your licence which means that you will only be permitted to drive a heavy vehicle with synchromesh or automatic transmission. If you have such a condition on your licence and you wish to drive non-synchromesh vehicles, or just to have the automatic/synchromesh condition removed, you will need to be retested using a vehicle with a constant mesh gearbox.

GETTING YOUR LICENCE ENDORSED

To have your licence endorsed, you need to provide the Certificate of Competency together with your current driving licence at a designated registry or service center in your state.

For instance, in the State of Victoria, you will visit a VicRoads Customer Service Centre; in Tasmania, you will visit one of the service Tasmania shops or designated police stations, and in New South Wales you will visit one of the NSW service centers.

The Certificate of Competency you provide must not be older than 12 months. You will also have your photo taken and be required to complete a license application form and provide proof of identity.

You can apply for an exemption from the minimum requirements if you have special circumstances such as hardship, previous experience in farming or transporting produce, etc.

Every Heavy Vehicle Licence holder must carry their license card or receipt with them at all times when driving heavy vehicles.