Forklift Licence Requirements

There aren’t too many requirements to drive a forklift but the following should give you a rough outline:


The HSC Approved Code of Practice and Guidance “Children under minimum school leaving age should never operate lift trucks” which implies that you can start driving a forklift truck from the age of 16, but it does stipulate elsewhere that forklift truck operators at docs must be at least 18 years of age.

In practice most trainers won’t train anyone under 17, and yet again most employers won’t employ people under 18 due t oother limitations in place due to the weight of forklifts and where they are operating. Road traffic legislation will apply when fork lift trucks are operated on public roads and this would be age 17 for trucks up to 3.5 tonnes, 18 up to 7.5 tonnes, and 21 for heavier equipment.

Driving Licence

You don’t need to hold a UK driving licence to operate a forklift truck and there is no legal requirement to do so unless you also wish to drive the forklift on the public highway. In this instance you and the vehicle would have to comply with the appropriate road traffic legislation.

Medical Fitness

Forklift Truck drivers are in charge of some heavy pieces of equipment and so it is important that operators have an appropriate level of medical fitness for the work they are expected to undertake.  These medical considerations are detailed on pages 8 and 9 of booklet HSG6 provided by the Health and Safety Executive which states:

“It is good practice for all operators and potential operators to be screened for fitness before employment and again at regular intervals in middle age. Examination at age 40 and thereafter at five-yearly intervals up to age 65 is recommended. Operators over 65 should be screened annually. Examination is also recommended in all cases after an accident or sickness absence of more than one month, or after a shorter period if it appears likely that the illness may affect fitness to operate.”

The standard of fitness required to operate a lift truck is generally the same as that required for a Group 1 Driving licence (i.e. a full UK drivers’ license) but applying the principle of individual assessment of fitness should ensure that people with disabilities are not disadvantaged. Some people with disabilities will have developed compensatory skills. Reasonable adjustment to work equipment, as can be required by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, may enable a disabled person to operate a lift truck safely. Competence in an emergency must, however, always be considered.

Points to be considered concerning the normal level of fitness required are:

  • General – Lift truck operators should usually have full movement of the trunk, neck and limbs, and normal agility. However, a very experienced worker who loses a limb may be successfully re-employed after retraining. A stable disposition is required, but a history of previous mental illness should not necessarily preclude selection. An individual who is dependent on alcohol or non-prescribed drugs should not be employed as a lift truck operator.
  • Vision – Proper guidance of the lift truck and its load depends upon good judgement of space and distance and this generally requires the effective use of both eyes, although some people with monocular vision can undertake certain kinds of lift truck work satisfactorily. Distance vision should be of the same standard as for driving a car on public roads. If distance vision is corrected by glasses or contact lenses these should always be worn while operating a lift truck.
  • Hearing – The ability to hear instructions and warning signals is important, but if a risk assessment specific to the job and the individual indicates that deafness does not constitute a hazard then it should not disqualify someone from operating a lift truck.
  • Epilepsy – This should not debar a worker from operating a lift truck if he/she is eligible for an ordinary driving licence (ie has been free from epileptic attack for one year) but any recurrence of seizures must always be reassessed medically. Flashing beacons may trigger epileptic fits.