Forklift licence in UK

Are you thinking about driving a forklift in the UK but not sure where to start? Getting your forklift license might seem a bit daunting, but don't worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds.

In this article, we're going to break it down into easy-to-understand steps, so you'll know exactly what you need to do. Whether you're looking to switch careers, add a new skill to your resume, or just curious about driving those cool, heavy machines, you're in the right place.

Keep reading to find out how you can get behind the wheel of a forklift and start moving things around like a pro! 


Getting Your Forklift Licence (Step-by-Step)

To get a forklift license in the UK, here's what you need to do in simple terms:

  1. Finding a Training Course: The initial step is to identify an accredited training provider. These are organizations certified by bodies like RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) or ITSSAR (Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register). Courses vary depending on the type of forklift (e.g., counterbalance, reach trucks, or pallet trucks), each requiring specific skill sets.

  2. Enrolment and Theoretical Learning: Once a suitable course is selected, you'll enroll and begin the theoretical component. This includes understanding the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998), and LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998). You'll learn about forklift mechanics, stability principles, load capacity (measured in kilograms or tonnes), and center of gravity dynamics.forklift

  3. Practical Training: Practical training involves hands-on instruction in maneuvering a forklift. This includes mastering control operations, navigation in confined spaces, stack height limitations (often measured in meters), and handling load weights appropriate to the specific forklift model.

  4. Assessment and Testing: After completing training, you'll undergo assessments. The theoretical test typically consists of multiple-choice questions covering legislation, safety guidelines, and operational knowledge. The practical test involves a series of tasks, such as safely navigating a course, accurately stacking and unstacking loads at various heights, and demonstrating proper start-up and shut-down procedures.

  5. Certification: Upon passing both the theoretical and practical tests, you will receive a certificate of training, often referred to as a forklift license. This document will detail the type of equipment you are qualified to operate, the date of completion, and the expiration date of the certification.

  6. License Renewal and Continuous Learning: Forklift licenses in the UK generally need renewal every three to five years, though this can vary. Renewal requires a reassessment of both theoretical knowledge and practical skills to ensure ongoing compliance with evolving safety standards and regulations.

Each of these steps is crucial in ensuring that forklift operators in the UK are adequately trained and certified to handle such equipment safely and effectively, in accordance with legal and regulatory standards.

Before you continue, you might want to read these FAQs:

Here's a Video Explaining How the Practical Training is Being Done:




Forklift Training Accrediting Bodies 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), being the regulatory authority in UK, set forth forklift training standards to follow. The HSE acknowledges only these six (6) accrediting companies, namely:

  1. Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT) -
  2. Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register (ITSSAR) -
  3. Lantra Awards -
  4. National Plant Operators Registration Scheme Ltd -
  5. Road Transport Industry Training Board (RTITB) Ltd -
  6. Construction Industry Training Board, (CITB) –

These accrediting bodies have created their own training standards. They accredit training providers such as companies, schools, individuals who want to become qualified instructors and employer training schemes. 

So when enrolling in a course, make sure the training center is accredited by one of these bodies.

Identifying the Skills You Already Have Will Determine the Training Course You Need to Take

  • Novice Training – as the name suggests, this course is proposed for an absolute beginner, for those who have no knowledge of driving a lift truck. It is meant to deliver the basic skills to operate forklifts and the capability to perform work with efficiency and safety.

    Because the trainees have no prior knowledge, this course is more thorough and it takes a longer time to finish the course and because it takes longer time, it is more expensive as well compared to other training courses. It takes about three to six days to complete and may cost you around £650 to pay for the course.

  • Semi-Experienced Training/Untested Forklift Operator Training– This course is for those individuals who know how to drive forklifts but have not taken any formal training in the past. It will cost you between £200 - £350 to take up this training and could last up to three days.

  • Conversion Course – If you want to expand your ability to drive other kinds of trucks you are not familiar with, then, a conversion course is the one you need. The cost to complete this course ranges from £200 and £350. You only need a day to take and finish the whole course.

  • Refresher Courses - are for trainees who want to get updated about present HSE regulations and safety best practices. This course is being supplied in certain circumstances as well such as when operators were seen driving the truck in a very unsafe manner that jeopardized their safety and when they were engaged in an accident. Refreshers are also given once every three years to make the operators’ knowledge current. 

Requirements Operators Must Have in Order to Get a Licence

  • Completion of a training course. This is the foremost requirement an operator must take in order to earn a forklift driving licence in the UK. Please refer to above information for the steps needed to take. The course consists of theory and practical training and at the end is the skills assessment.

  • For those who are new to this, you need to be at least 17 years old to be accepted in the training; This is age is the minimum school leaving age which is allowed to work as a forklift operator in the UK. In a more dangerous workplace such as ports, an operator must be at least 18 years old because of the inherent nature of the work area.

  • Even you have significant experience as a forklift operator, refresher training is needed in order to maintain qualifications and of course to keep licence. Refresher training is taken every three (3) years. But then again, there is no specific time in order to take the refresher training as there are many circumstances that prompt the operator to undergo refreshers such as involvement in a near miss or accident, learning of new skills, development of unsafe work practices, deficiency in operating skills, etc.

  • Due to the nature of the job, operators are expected to be in optimum physical and health conditions. Operating this potentially dangerous piece of equipment for a long period of time every day requires good stamina. Operators may be required by their employer to undergo a medical exam to determine physical ability.

  • Do you need a driving licence? There’s a lot of confusion about this. In reality, a driving licence in not required in order to operate a forklift truck. Not unless the truck will be driven on public roads. If such a circumstance arises, then the operator must have a driving licence issued in the UK and should comply with the road traffic rules.



Costs and Funding for Forklift Licence

Detailed Breakdown of Costs

  • Cost Range: The cost of obtaining a forklift licence in the UK can vary widely, typically ranging from £200 to £650. This range is influenced by factors such as the type of forklift you're training on (e.g., counterbalance, reach trucks, or pallet trucks), the complexity of the training, and the geographical location of the training center.

  • Course Specifics Affecting Cost:

    • Course Duration: Longer courses, like a 5-day beginner course, usually cost more than shorter refresher courses. This is to  Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 of the L117 ACOP
    • Forklift Type: Training for specialized forklifts, like telescopic handlers or rough terrain forklifts, often incurs higher costs due to the advanced nature of the machinery.
    • Accreditation Level: Courses accredited by bodies like RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) or ITSSAR (Independent Training Standards Scheme and Register) might have different pricing structures.
    • The duration can be affected by the skill level of the student. If the student has prior experience operating a forklift or has relevant skills, they may be able to complete the training in a shorter period of time. If the student is a novice with no prior experience, they may require more time to complete the training. Additionally, the type of forklift being operated can also impact the duration of the training. Some forklifts may be more complex to operate and may require more time for training. It is advisable to check with the training provider for more information on the specific duration of the training course you are interested in, taking into consideration your skills and experience.

Funding and Financial Support

  • Government Grants and Funding Schemes: There are instances where governmental schemes or local employment support programs offer funding for vocational training, which can include forklift licence training. These schemes might cover a portion of the training costs or, in some cases, the full amount.

  • Employer Sponsorship:

    • Formal Sponsorship Agreements: Some employers offer sponsorship for their employees' training. This is often seen in industries where forklift operation is a regular part of the job. Employers might fully fund the training or offer a subsidy.
    • Reimbursement Policies: In some cases, employers may reimburse the training cost after successful completion and certification. This arrangement usually comes with certain conditions, like a commitment to stay with the company for a specified period.
  • Educational Loans and Financing Options: Some private financial institutions or training centers themselves might offer loans or financing options to cover the cost of training. These options typically come with interest and need to be repaid over time.

The cost of the forklift license and the length of the training depend on the type of forklift you want to be trained in. It will also depend on your skill level. Novice operators tend to have a longer training course that ranges from 3 to 5 days. If you are an experienced individual it only takes 2 days. For the refresher and conversion course, only takes a day to complete the course.

If you are an employer who’s looking for a better option, you can hire a trainer to conduct the training at your site. This is a much better option for you.

Training schools ensure that every individual receives much information and skill after the completion of the training. Commonly, the ratio of trainer to student is 1:3. You are assured of getting much education and the quality of training.



Renewal of the Forklift Licence in the UK

When to Renew Your Licence

  • Every 3 Years: Generally, a forklift licence in the UK is good for about three years. When it's getting close to this time, you should start thinking about renewing it.

The Renewal Process

  • Refresher Course: To renew your licence, you'll usually need to take a short training course. This is called a refresher course. It's not as long as your original training, but it's important to make sure you're still up to speed with all the safety rules and operating procedures.

Why It's Important

  • Staying Safe and Legal: Renewing your licence is crucial. It's not just about being allowed to drive a forklift; it's also about making sure you're doing it safely. The rules and ways of operating forklifts can change, so it's important to stay updated.

Technical Details

  • Certificate Validity: The certificate you get after your refresher course proves that you're qualified to operate a forklift. Make sure you keep this certificate safe because your employer might ask to see it.

  • Types of Forklifts: Remember, if you operate different types of forklifts (like counterbalance or reach trucks), you might need specific refresher courses for each type.

Costs and Booking

  • Cost for Renewal: The cost to renew your licence will probably be less than what you paid for your initial training. Prices vary, so check with your training provider.

  • How to Book a Course: You can book your refresher course through a training center. It's a good idea to do this a few months before your licence expires so you're not in a rush.

In simple terms, renewing your forklift licence every three years is a must. It involves taking a short course to brush up on your skills and knowledge. This keeps you safe and legally compliant. The process includes a bit of time and cost, but it's an essential part of being a forklift operator.

Job Requirements of Forklift Operator

When you receive your forklift licence, and you are off to get a job, it is better to have a clear idea of what would be your requirements in order to prepare for it and get accepted. In order to become a forklift operator, you need to have/be:

  • Physically robust and fit because operating forklifts demands strength and effort
  • An aptitude to follow the supervisor’s verbal and written instructions
  • Awareness that safety is the #1 concern. Always bear in mind that your safety and the people around you are in your hands.
  • A mature mind and mentality – driving forklifts is no joke, it should be driven responsibly and work should be finished professionally.
  • Basic math skills to make load calculations and estimate lifting height and cover distances
  • Able to work proficiently during production in full swing.

What is Your Future as a Forklift Driver in the UK

The future of forklift drivers in the UK, as with many occupations, is influenced by various factors including technological advancements, market demands, regulatory changes, and the overall health of the economy. Here are some insights into the potential future for forklift drivers in the UK:

  1. Tech Changes: Some warehouses might use robots or machines that work by themselves. But, there will always be jobs that need people to help or watch over these machines.
  2. Jobs Available: More online shopping means more warehouses. So, there might be more jobs for forklift drivers for some time.
  3. Learning: Forklift drivers should learn the latest rules and ways to do their job. This will help them get better jobs.
  4. More Skills: If you can do more things, like use different machines or manage items in a warehouse, you might get better jobs.
  5. Rules after Brexit: The UK left the European Union, so some rules might change. Forklift drivers should know these changes.
  6. Move Up in Job: Experienced forklift drivers can get higher jobs in warehouses. They can become leaders or teach others.
  7. Money Factors: If the UK's money situation is good, there are more jobs. If it's bad, there might be fewer jobs.

In short, even with more machines and robots, there will still be jobs for forklift drivers. But, it's good for them to keep learning and adding new skills. 


The HSE and BSC Have Their Own Requirement

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that “a person who operates a forklift truck on behalf of an employer must have received adequate training in its use”. The HSE also says that an operator must be “ competent”.

The British Safety Council (BSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works to raise standards of health, safety and environmental management. The BSC is accredited by the HSE to provide training and qualifications, including forklift operator training.

The BSC’s website has a searchable database of accredited training providers. The website also has a list of Frequently Asked Questions about forklift operator training, including information about conversion courses for foreign licence holders.

The HSE’s website has a factsheet about operating a forklift safely. The factsheet includes information about the legal requirements for training and competence, as well as practical advice on how to operate a forklift safely.



Are Foreign Forklift Licence Valid in the UK

If you're considering operating a forklift in this country, you might question the validity of your foreign forklift licence. The simple answer is "No." This country has its distinct requirements and standards for training forklift operators.

While you can use a certificate from another country as proof of experience when seeking employment in the UK, you will still need to undergo training from an accredited provider specific to the type of truck you plan to operate in order to obtain a UK forklift certificate.

Don't Believe These

If one of your buddies told you that you can use your foreign forklift certificate if you intend to move to UK, that might not be true. Don't immediately believe if you hear these from your colleagues:

  • The licence issued by a recognized and reputable organization will be valid in a new country - (This isn't true).
  • The licence is for the same type of forklift as the one being operated in the UK - (even if you intend to operate the same type of forklift, you still need to take separate training).
  • The licence is still valid and has not expired - (even if your foreign licence isn't expired, you still have to have a UK forklift certificate. The foreign licence you're holding is proof of experience operating the truck).
  • The holder of the licence is competent to operate the forklift and has the necessary skills and experience - (Yes, this is true, but again to work in the UK as a forklift driver, you need to have the certificate issued in this country).

Different countries have their own standards with regard to training forklift drivers. If you intend to move to another country and work there as an operator, the foreign license you have can be used as evidence of experience when applying for a job.

Overall, getting a forklift licence in the UK is a fairly simple process. You just have to register for a course offered by a training provider, you should be able to operate a forklift without any problems. The course only takes a day or two, depending on the skill level you have.



Understanding Different Types of Forklift Licences in the UK

Forklifts come in various shapes and sizes, each tailored for specific tasks and environments. The diversity in forklift types also means unique licensing requirements based on the specific nature and potential hazards associated with each machine.

  • Counterbalance Forklifts - These forklifts are among the most frequently seen, identifiable by their twin forks at the front. Designed with a counterweight at the back, they bear loads at the front. To obtain a licence for counterbalance forklifts, operators must be well-versed in the vehicle's controls, safe handling of loads, and understanding of the importance of weight distribution to prevent tipping.

  • Reach Trucks - Reach Trucks are warehouse specialists. With their compact design, they can navigate narrow aisles and are built to access high shelves. Licensing for reach trucks places emphasis on vertical load movement, precision in tight spaces, and understanding stability when elevating loads to significant heights.

  • Telescopic Handler (Telehandler) - Telehandlers are versatile machines often seen in agriculture and construction. They differ from conventional forklifts with their extending boom, allowing them to hoist loads to great heights. Licensing for telehandlers is comprehensive, addressing a range of tasks from basic loading to elevating materials. Given their adaptability, operators might also need to learn about various attachments, such as lift tables or buckets.

  • Other Types - Beyond these, there are side loader forklifts tailored for lengthy loads like timber, pallet trucks for short-distance pallet movement, and rough terrain forklifts built for uneven surfaces like construction sites. Each type brings its own set of safety considerations and specific training demands.

Obtaining a forklift licence in the UK goes beyond generic vehicle operation. It requires a deep understanding of the specific machinery in use, the risks involved, and the best practices to ensure both safety and efficiency.

Refresher Courses for Forklift Licence in the UK: Why and When?

In the fast-paced environment of logistics and warehousing, ensuring that forklift operators possess up-to-date knowledge and skills is paramount. In the UK, while obtaining an initial forklift licence is a significant step, periodic refresher courses are equally essential. Let's explore the reasons behind this need and the circumstances under which they become necessary.

Why Take Refresher Courses?

  • Safety Prioritisation: Over time, operators might develop complacency or adopt unsafe habits. Refresher courses help in realigning their practices with safety standards, preventing potential accidents.
  • Regulatory Compliance: The UK has specific regulations concerning forklift operations. Staying compliant is not just about adhering to laws but ensuring operators and their colleagues remain safe.
  • Boosting Efficiency: Apart from safety, these courses often introduce operators to new techniques or practices that can enhance productivity and efficiency in their daily tasks.

When is a Refresher Course Needed?

  • Regular Intervals: Industry best practices in the UK often suggest refresher courses at regular intervals, typically every 3-5 years, even if there hasn't been a significant incident or change in duties.
  • Post-Incident: If an operator has been involved in a forklift-related accident or even a near miss, it's a clear indication that a refresher course is needed to reassess and improve their practices.
  • Returning from a Break: Operators returning to work after a prolonged absence may find it beneficial to refresh their skills, ensuring they're still in sync with current methodologies and equipment.
  • Operational Changes: When there's a significant change in the work environment or if an operator is transitioning to a different type of forklift or a new operational setting, a refresher is advisable.
  • Legislative Changes: Whenever there's an update in UK regulations concerning forklift operations, a refresher course can help operators understand and comply with these new rules. 


How to Get a Copy of Forklift Licence, If It Is Lost

To obtain a copy of your forklift license, you may need to follow these steps:

  • Contact the training provider: If you received your forklift training and license from a training provider, you can reach out to them and request a duplicate copy of your license. They should have a record of your training and certification and can provide you with a copy of your license.

  • Request a copy from the issuing authority: If you are unable to obtain a copy from the training provider or your records, you can contact the issuing authority, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK, to request a duplicate copy of your license. You may need to provide some identifying information and pay a fee to obtain a duplicate copy.

It's important to have a copy of your forklift license, as it serves as proof of your competency to operate a forklift and demonstrates compliance with industry standards and regulations. Additionally, having a copy of your license can be useful for job applications and for demonstrating your qualifications to potential employers. If you have lost your license or it has been damaged, obtaining a duplicate copy is a necessary step to ensure you have the proper documentation to continue operating a forklift.




To Verify Your Credentials, Visit the RTITB Website

RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) is a UK-based organization that provides training and certification for forklift operators. If you have received RTITB certification, you can check the status of your certificate by following these steps:

  1. Visit the RTITB website: Go to the RTITB website ( and click on the "Check a certificate" link under the "Certification" section.

  2. Enter your details: On the "Check a certificate" page, enter your first name, last name, and certificate number. If you don't have your certificate number, you can also search for your certificate using your date of birth and postcode.

  3. Review your certificate: Once you have entered your information, the RTITB website will display information about your certificate, including the date it was issued, the type of certificate, and its expiration date.

If you are unable to find your certificate using the RTITB website, you can contact RTITB customer service for assistance. They can help you locate your certificate and provide you with the information you need.

It's important to keep your RTITB certificate up-to-date and to renew it if necessary. Having a valid RTITB certificate demonstrates your competence as a forklift operator and can be a valuable asset when applying for jobs or bidding on projects in the road transport industry.


To Wrap This Up

Getting a forklift licence in the UK isn't too hard and can really help you out in your job. First off, pick the kind of forklift you want to drive. Next, sign up for a course that teaches you all you need to know about driving a forklift safely and properly.

You'll sit in a bit of class learning the rules and then get to practice actually driving a forklift. After you've learned everything, you'll have to show you can do it for real in a test. Pass that, and you've got your licence to drive a forklift legally in the UK.

Don't forget, you've got to take a quick course every three years to keep your licence up to date. This way, you keep your skills sharp and know all the latest safety stuff. Getting this licence can really open doors for you in lots of jobs, making it a smart move for your career.

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