Which drivers have to prove their professional competence and how?

Do you employ drivers for freight or passenger transport? If so, you will probably be aware that, in addition to their C or D driving licence, they must obtain and retain their Certificate of Professional Competence. But what are the ins and outs?

The purpose of this certificate is to ensure that professional freight and passenger transport drivers maintain their driving competence. If you pass the test, code 95 will be added to your driving licence in addition to category C (C, C1, C+E or C1+E) or D (D, D1, D+E or D1+E).

How do drivers obtain and retain their Certificate of Professional Competence?

Drivers can obtain this in three ways:

  • together with the driving licence, via a combined test;
  • separately, via an  initial qualification test;
  • through a complementary initial qualification test, if the driver already has the professional competence for group C or D and wishes to obtain it for the other group as well.

The certificate is valid for five years. In order to renew this certificate after that period, drivers must take 35 hours of periodic training at an accredited training centre.

When is professional competence not applicable?

Drivers do not have to prove their professional competence when driving:

  • vehicles with a maximum authorised speed of 45 km/h;
  • vehicles for the armed forces, civil protection, fire brigades, maintenance or monitoring of public order, in the case of transport for professional purposes;
  • test vehicles, maintenance and repair vehicles, etc;
  • vehicles used in an emergency or for rescue missions;
  • vehicles used for non-commercial use for private purposes;
  • vehicles used to transport material, equipment or machinery, when driving the vehicle is not the driver's main activity.

Since 1 May 2020, the Certificate of Professional Competence has also ceased to apply to drivers of:

  • emergency medical transport services, in the case of transport for professional purposes;
  • non-commercial transport of passengers or goods;
  • non-commercial transport of humanitarian aid;
  • vehicles requiring a D or D1 licence, driven by maintenance personnel (without passengers) to or from a maintenance centre in the vicinity of the nearest maintenance base, if driving a vehicle is not the driver's main activity;
  • vehicles used for the transportation of goods by agricultural, horticultural, forestry, livestock or fishery enterprises, except if driving a vehicle is part of the driver's main activity or the vehicle goes more than 100 kilometres from the enterprise.

What is the difference between professional competence and driving aptitude?

The Certificate of Professional Competence is an addition to the driving licence. It shows that a driver is allowed to drive a vehicle for professional reasons.

A Driving Aptitude Test shows whether a driver is physically and mentally fit to drive a vehicle. If you have a C or D driving licence, you fall under category 2 and are obliged to obtain a Driving Aptitude Certificate. Here you can read more about the Driving Aptitude Certificate.

Just like the Certificate of Professional Competence, this is valid for five years. Both periods can coincide, but this is not a requirement.

Corona: extension of certificate validity

Due to the coronavirus, many employees were unable to renew their certificate of professional competence and/or fitness to drive in recent months. Therefore, concerning the validity, the government has decided:

  • certificates of competency that expire between 31 January and 1 September 2020 are automatically extended by 7 months (valid throughout the EU);
  • fitness to drive certificates that expire after 15 March 2020 are automatically extended until 30 September 2020 (only at Belgian level).