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Do you need a license to drive a telehandler?

The quick answer to this is: Yes, you typically do need a specific qualification to legally operate a telehandler in the United Kingdom. However, the issue is slightly more complex than just having a ‘license,’ per se. In this article, we will delve deeper into what qualifications are necessary, whether there are exceptions to needing a license, and how a forklift license relates to operating a telehandler.

What qualification do you need to drive a telehandler?

Driving a telehandler in the UK generally requires specialized training, validated by a qualification card, often referred to as a CPCS (Construction Plant Competence Scheme) card or an NPORS (National Plant Operators Registration Scheme) card. Let’s delve into each:


  • Most widely recognised within the construction industry
  • Endorsed by the UK Contractors Group
  • Covers various levels of expertise from novice to experienced operators


  • Flexible in training approach
  • Provides a record of achievements and a skills card
  • Recognised by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive)

Both types of cards signify that the operator has undergone training and assessments to competently operate a telehandler.

“Qualification is crucial in ensuring that the telehandler is operated safely and efficiently.”

Can you drive a telehandler without a licence?

Legally, it’s a grey area. While technically you do not need a ‘licence’ in the same way you would need a driving licence for a car, you are required by law to be ‘competent’ if you are operating a telehandler on a construction site. According to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all operators are adequately trained.

If you are caught operating a telehandler without proper qualifications, you and your employer may face severe penalties, including fines and possible imprisonment for breaching health and safety laws.


  • Non-commercial use on private land, though it’s still advisable to be trained
  • Supervised operation for the purpose of training

“Driving a telehandler without proper qualification is not just a legal issue; it’s a significant safety risk.”

Can you drive a telehandler with a forklift licence UK?

A common question is whether a forklift license can serve as a qualification for operating a telehandler. The simple answer is No. Forklift licenses are not interchangeable with telehandler qualifications. Forklifts and telehandlers are different types of machinery, designed for different tasks, and as such, each requires its own specific training.

Primarily for indoor usePrimarily for outdoor use
Designed for lifting palletsDesigned for lifting both pallets and loose materials
Not suitable for rough terrainSuitable for rough terrain

Additional Training

If you already possess a forklift license, additional training specific to telehandlers will still be necessary. Many training providers offer ‘add-on’ courses that build upon existing forklift skills to qualify you for telehandler operation.


  1. A specific qualification like a CPCS or NPORS card is generally required to operate a telehandler.
  2. Driving without a qualification is legally risky and poses significant safety hazards.
  3. A forklift licence does not qualify you to operate a telehandler.

Understanding these points is essential for both employers and potential operators to ensure not just legal compliance, but also the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the operation of these machines.

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