Van Driver

The Job and What's Involved

Van drivers transport a wide range of goods, including documents, parcels, furniture, domestic appliances, computers and food and drink.

The type and size of the van they drive depends on what they have to carry, the type of licence the driver holds, and the distance they need to travel. The majority of vans are up to 3.5 tonnes and can be driven by a driver with a full driving licence. Van drivers need a category C1 licence to drive vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes.

If transporting valuables or cash in a specially adapted van, a Security Industry Authority (SIA) Cash and Valuables in Transit Licence must be held by the driver.

A van driver:

  • Makes sure the correct items are ready to be loaded according to the paperwork.
  • Plans and times the route.
  • Loads, or supervises the loading of, the van and secures the load.
  • Carries out basic vehicle safety checks before setting off.
  • Sticks to the driving regulations that apply to their particular van and load, including speed and load limits.
  • Remains security aware - goods may have high value.
  • Makes sure they take the required rest breaks during journeys (if the van is over 3.5 tonnes).
  • Unloads, or supervises the unloading of, items at customers' premises.
  • Obtains signed receipts for the goods that are delivered.
  • May need to clean out or refuel the van after delivery, or at the end of a shift.
  • Keeps records of the goods delivered, hours worked and distance travelled.

A machine that is placed in vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, called a tachograph, records the number of hours spent driving and resting, the speed of the vehicle and the distance travelled.

Some van drivers may have to carry, or help to carry, goods into a particular room at a customer's property, collect any unwanted goods and/or packaging for disposal, set up items, such as flat-pack furniture, or move heavy or awkward items into place.

Some van drivers sell items from their van, as well as delivering goods that have been ordered. These may be milk, bread, fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, or general groceries.

Drivers can also work in fast food, selling food such as fish and chips, baked potatoes or ice cream. They may travel around an area, attend events or park on a regular pitch.

Some van drivers have responsibility for the maintenance and cleaning of their van.

They usually work alone, but some have a driver's mate to help them.

Working hours can vary and may include evenings and weekends. They may be required to work shifts. However, there are legal limits on driver hours, depending on the vehicle, that employers and drivers must adhere to. Van drivers are legally limited to a maximum of ten hours' driving per day. Van drivers usually work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Some companies operate a system where drivers can finish work as soon as they have completed their deliveries. Some jobs, such as milk delivery, require a very early start. Part-time work may be available.

Van drivers usually have to spend long periods in the van. They normally get in and out of the van many times during the day, and the work may involve lifting and carrying. They also have to drive in all weather conditions.

Depending on the job, they may drive one particular route, or they may have to find their way around new areas.

For some jobs, drivers wear a uniform. If carrying valuables or cash, they may wear body armour and a helmet.

Starting salaries may be around £11,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are over 200,000 van drivers in the UK. The rise in internet shopping has resulted in a large increase in the number of home deliveries. This is expected to continue and will lead to more opportunities for van drivers.

Van drivers may work throughout the UK for a wide range of manufacturing, parcel delivery, service and retail organisations. There are also jobs with specialist distribution companies. Some drivers, particularly those selling items from their van, are self-employed or run a franchise.

Vacancies may be advertised in local newspapers, Jobcentre Plus offices, specialist recruitment agencies and on websites such as

Education and Training

No formal academic qualifications are needed to become a van driver, but applicants should have skills in English and maths, an appropriate driving licence and a good driving record. A medical examination has to be passed for a large goods vehicle (LGV) category C1 licence.

Van drivers need either:

  • An ordinary driving licence (which can be obtained at the age of 17 years and which entitles the holder to drive category B vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, including their load - most vans fall into this category).
  • A category C1 licence if the weight of the vehicle and its load is between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes - this can be obtained by taking a further specific LGV theory and C1 practical test from the age of 18 years.

Van drivers transporting cash and valuables also need an SIA licence. This requires the successful completion of the National Open College Network (NOCN) Level 2 Award in Cash and Valuables in Transit.

Those with significant driving experience and experience of working with people may be at an advantage.

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Initial training is often provided via short in-house induction courses, covering company rules, paperwork and the types of goods handled. In-house or external training courses may also cover manual handling and health and safety. Drivers often learn routes and other aspects of the job from experienced staff.

Van drivers may work towards an NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Carry and Deliver Goods, or Levels 2 and 3 in Driving Goods Vehicles.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Van drivers need to:

  • Have safe and fuel-efficient driving skills.
  • Be security aware as loads may be valuable.
  • Be able to concentrate and stay alert at all times.
  • Be calm, with the confidence to work with minimal supervision.
  • Be reliable.
  • Have good knowledge of the area, or good map reading and navigation skills.
  • Have an awareness of safety when loading and unloading.
  • Be physically fit.
  • Be able to work alone or with one other person.
  • Be polite to customers when picking up or dropping off deliveries.
  • Be able to complete paperwork and meet deadlines.
  • Be accurate and trustworthy, for example if dealing with money.

Your Long Term Prospects

Van drivers may move into related areas in transport, distribution and retail. For example, they may move to clerical, administrative or warehouse posts, or become road transport managers.

By taking a category C or C+E driving test, they may drive LGVs for a haulage or distribution company.

Get Further Information

Driving Standards Agency (DSA), Stanley House,
56 Talbot Street, Nottingham NG1 5GU
Tel: 0115 901 2500

National Open College Network (NOCN),
The Quadrant, Parkway Business Park,
99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield S9 4WG
Tel: 0114 227 0500

Security Industry Authority (SIA),
PO Box 74957, London E14 1UG
Tel: 0844 892 1025

Skills for Logistics,
14 Warren Yard, Warren Farm Office Village,
Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360

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