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What Is A Dangerous Goods License, And Do I Need One?

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As an HGV driver, your days will be filled with changes and challenges. Often no two days are the same, and you can find yourself transporting clothing one day and building materials the next. If you’re a freelance driver, or you belong to a driver agency, then your jobs will be even more varied to fit in with your client needs – and the more qualifications you hold, the more jobs are open to you. One of the things we don’t talk about a lot of is the transportation of dangerous goods, which can be a lucrative career option for HGV drivers if you hold the right licenses.


The ADR License

Moving dangerous goods by road is pretty heavily regulated for the safety of all road users. So if you’re driving a vehicle carrying dangerous goods, then you have to hold an ADR license. ADR stands for the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road and covers any vehicle of any size carrying dangerous goods. Before 2007 this only applied to vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, but now it doesn’t matter if you’re driving a tanker or a Ford Transit – if your cargo is dangerous, you need the ADR license. Once you’ve gained your ADR license, it stays valid for 5 years and will need to be renewed with a refresher course if you want to keep it.


The 9 Classes of Dangerous Goods

  • Explosive Materials (Class 1) – Including any substance with an explosion hazard, explosions that may project fragments and firebrands, and fire hazards.


  • Gasses (Class 2) – Including flammable gasses, toxic gasses, and gasses that are neither flammable nor toxic, like helium and
  • Flammable Liquids (Class 3) – Including liquids or mixtures of liquids that will give off flammable vapours at specific temperatures, and have a flashpoint of not more than 60.5 degreed Celsius.
  • Flammable Solids (Class 4) – Including highly flammable solids, solids that are likely to spontaneously combust, and substances that, if they come into contact with water, emit flammable gasses.
  • Oxidising Substances and Organic Pesticides (Class 5) – Including agents that react with oxygen and organic pesticides.


  • Toxic and Infectious Substances (Class 6) – Including cyanide, arsenic, vaccines and pathology specimens.
  • Radioactive Materials (Class 7) – Including materials that have a specific activity greater than 70 kilobecquerels per kilogram.


  • Corrosive Materials (Class 8) – Including any corrosive liquids and solids that will cause severe damage on contact with living tissue, or materially damage other goods on leakage.
  • Miscellaneous (Class 9) – Includes any miscellaneous dangerous items.



Why Would You Need One?

Essentially, if you want to transport anything even remotely hazardous by road, then you need to have an ADR license. Anything on the above list is covered under the ADR, and while some are more common than others, each one needs to be transported at one time or another. HGV drivers that also carry an ADR license are harder to find than HGV drivers with standard, or any other category of license, making them more in demand and often better paid. So if you’re looking for a way to niche your career and increase your pay, getting your ADR license could be the way to do it.


All ADR training in the UK has to be approved by the Department for Transport, so it’s important to make sure you choose a reputable training provider before you start. Your training will likely be split into modules, covering all of the categories above, as well as core, packages, and the safe driving of tankers, which may not be covered in your standard HGV training.


At The HGV Training Centre, we partner with a number of specialist training companies that focus on ADR licensing. So if, while you’re undertaking your standard HGV training, you decide the ADR license would be a good upgrade, our team can guide you through the process and help connect you with a reputable training programme. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with us today.

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