How the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) earned recognition scheme works, how to apply, and what happens when you've joined.
Applies to England, Scotland and Wales
What is DVSA earned recognition
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) earned recognition scheme is a way to prove you meet driver and vehicle standards.
This means that you’re:
- continuously monitoring your own compliance
- using monitoring systems
- compliant with vehicle and road safety standards
It’s a voluntary scheme that’s designed to work for operators of all sizes.
How it works
You need to have a DVSA-validated IT system for vehicle maintenance and drivers’ hours. This will monitor whether you’re meeting a set of key performance indicators (KPIs).
Every 4 weeks, your system will tell DVSA if you’ve missed any of the KPIs by a set amount. If this happens, DVSA will work with you to fix any problems.
DVSA will not have direct access to any of your data or systems.
Monitoring systems you can use from 1 April 2022
From 1 April 2022, you can use one of these options for your vehicle maintenance monitoring systems:
- fully digital electronic reporting systems for maintenance and vehicle KPIs, approved by DVSA
- a mixture of manual maintenance and vehicle systems or a mixture of digital maintenance systems (both internal systems and external programmes), alongside digital reporting, all validated by DVSA
- manually send maintenance and vehicle reporting information to DVSA
What are the benefits
As a DVSA earned recognition operator you’ll:
- be an exemplary operator, and be able to prove this when you bid for contracts
- be less likely to have your vehicles stopped at the roadside for inspections
- be less likely to have DVSA enforcement staff visit your premises
- be able to use the DVSA earned recognition logo on your website and other publicity materials (but not on your vehicles)
- be recognised as a DVSA-accredited operator on GOV.UK
- have direct access to a dedicated earned recognition team in DVSA
Before you apply you need to make sure that you meet the following criteria:
- you’ve had a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) or public service vehicle (PSV) operator licence for at least 2 years
- the Traffic Commissioner hasn’t taken any regulatory action (other than a formal warning) on any of your operator licences in the last 2 years
- you have management systems for vehicle maintenance and digital management systems for drivers’ hours, which you can use to track the KPIs and report if they’re missed
- you meet the earned recognition audit standards
If you have multiple operator licences
The application can only be made for the whole business - not individual licences. You must report the data for all your operator licences.
If your organisation contains multiple legal entities operating under one group - using the same management systems - you can make a single group application.
The audit standards and key performance indicators would apply and be measured over the group as a whole.
An individual legal entity cannot be removed from the group accreditation unless it changes ownership or no longer exists.
You can apply for accreditation for extra modules that show you meet the requirements to work on certain projects. These are optional and require you to meet additional audit standards or to provide extra information to DVSA.
An application for any of the extra modules can be for the whole entity or at least one operator’s licence with all its operating centres.
You might have to share information related to the extra module – such as KPIs – with a third party.
You can currently apply for two extra modules on:
How much it costs
There’s no application fee to join the scheme.
Your systems and processes must be audited by a DVSA-authorised audit provider:
- once your application has been reviewed
- every 2 years after you’ve joined the scheme
You might need to pay for this, depending on the provider you choose. The providers set their own fees.
You need to tell your audit provider if you’re applying for extra modules.
Extra modules are audited every year.
You may need to pay to update your IT systems if they cannot measure and report on the KPIs.
The system suppliers set their own fees.
Earned recognition terms and conditions
As an operator, you need to meet and agree the DVSA earned recognition terms and conditions.
Apply to join the scheme
Fill in the DVSA earned recognition application form if you meet the eligibility criteria.
DVSA will check your application and get back to you.
Apply for extra modules
Existing scheme members
If you’re an existing earned recognition scheme member, you can apply for extra modules at any time.
You’ll need to fill in one copy of the application form for each module you apply for and say what operator licences you want to include on the extra modules.
The audit can be completed either before or after the application has been submitted.
Before you can be considered for the extra modules, the entity or group you’re applying for must pass all relevant sections of the audit standards.
- apply for extra modules at the same time as you submit your application for the earned recognition scheme
- have the audit for the extra modules conducted with your main audit
You need to send an application form for each extra module with the main application form.
Arrange an audit
You can have an audit up to 3 months before or 3 months after DVSA receives your application.
After DVSA has your reviewed your application, they may ask for more checks to be carried out. Or, if the application fails to meet the necessary requirements, it may be rejected.
Get an audit done by video call
You can choose to have an audit by video call rather than in person.
- a mobile phone, tablet or other device with a working camera and microphone that can run video calling software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom
- a stable internet connection
To set up an audit by video call, contact your auditor.
What the audit involves
The auditor will look at:
- the processes involved in your transport management systems
- how you manage them
You’ll be audited against the DVSA earned recognition standard for HGVs or PSVs, depending on which licences you have. There are different earned recognition audit standards for each.
You’ll be audited against HGV and PSV standards if you have both types of licence.
Each standard has 10 sections plus optional modules.
|Section number||Audit area|
|2||Transport manager or responsible person|
|10||Dangerous goods (HGV operators) or services provided (PSV operators)|
- High Speed 2 (HS2)
- London Power Tunnels (LPT2)
You will not be audited on section 10 if you do not do these activities.
The documents provided here will explain the:
- standards you should achieve
- level of performance needed to meet the standards
The audit might need to be done at one or more locations, depending on your operating systems, the number of operating centres you have, and your fleet size.
On the day of the audit, you need to make sure that:
- all the information the authorised audit provider needs is available
- the transport manager or other responsible person is available
- any questions the authorised audit provider asks can be answered
- the completed audit document is signed
You’ll need to be able to:
- show the systems you have in place to meet the standards
- comply with any requests from the authorised audit provider
As part of the audit, a sample of your vehicles and systems will be checked.
The audit sampling will be based on these 3 areas of your business:
- operating centres
It will take into consideration:
- the type of management system and the area of responsibility
- whether DVSA wants to direct the audit, or ask for specific measures to be checked
- that audits should only be carried out at operating centres that have an administrative or management function
- that where the main site is non-operational, an additional operating centre should be included in the audit
- that the auditor check should include a minimum of one month’s operator analysis and subsequent actions
- that, in addition to the audit at the main operating centre, any audit checks at other operating centres must be rotated at the periodic audit
- that maintenance records should conform with the DVSA guide to maintaining roadworthiness for commercial goods and passenger carrying vehicles
- that the sample must be representative of your fleet and include all types of vehicles and trailers across your vehicle age range
- that audit checks must be sampled across all types of maintenance providers: for example, manufacturers, independents and in-house providers
- sampling from each operator licence
Vehicle fleet size and driver record sampling table
|Fleet size||Vehicle/trailer record||Driver records|
|1 to 5||all||all|
|6 to 100||2 checks per operator licence (minimum 5 checks in total)||2 checks per operator licence (minimum 5 checks in total)|
|101+||5 checks per operator licence (minimum 10 checks in total)||5 checks per operator licence (minimum 10 checks in total)|
Operating centres sampling table
|Number of operating centres||Operating centres|
|1 to 5||the main/controlling centre|
|6 to 20||main centre + 1|
|20+||main centre + 2|
After the audit
Make sure you’ve signed the completed report
The auditor will send you the results of the audit, and send a copy to DVSA.
DVSA will decide whether you’ve met the standard to join the scheme and will tell you its decision.
If there are issues that can be put right within a month, you’ll be given the opportunity to do so.
If you cannot deal with any issues in that timeframe, DVSA will reject your application and tell you the reasons why. You may reapply in the future and DVSA will reconsider their initial decision.
How to appeal
You can appeal an application and audit outcome by emailing:
You need to make the appeal within 14 days of the original decision.
When making the appeal you must include:
- detailed reasons for the appeal
- any documentary evidence that backs up your appeal
Any decision to refuse or remove earned recognition accreditation will be put on hold once DVSA have received your appeal.
DVSA will use all the information you provide when considering the appeal.
- request additional information
- ask you for clarify information
- ask you to complete certain actions
As an operator, you must cooperate with any requests made.
Your appeal outcome
DVSA will make a decision on your appeal within 28 days of receiving it. The appeal can take longer if there has been a delay in:
- providing additional information
- providing clarifications
- completion of required actions
You’ll be told the appeal outcome in writing within 7 days of DVSA making the final decision.
You cannot make any further appeals.
When you’ve joined the scheme
Marketing and publicity
As an earned recognition operator you’ll:
- be able to use the logo for marketing and publicity purposes
- appear on a list of approved operators on GOV.UK
Monitor your performance
Your IT system will automatically measure and monitor the KPIs, which will help you manage your business.
All KPIs are measured over 4-week periods, which start on a Monday and end on a Sunday. This is known as a ‘KPI measurement period’.
KPIs are reported at the end of the period and are sent to DVSA 4 weeks later. You can either do this manually or your system can send it automatically. When you become a member of the scheme, DVSA will send you a form to make manual KPI reports.
Example A measurement period runs from Monday 8 October 2018 to Sunday 4 November 2018. The KPIs are measured on Monday 5 November 2018 and are reported to DVSA on Monday 3 December 2018.
About the KPIs
You should be able to achieve the KPIs, no matter what size your fleet is.
To be sure that the KPIs are realistic, DVSA analysed over 1.5 million historical records on vehicle test results drivers’ hours infringements fleet size.
There are 2 sets of KPIs - maintenance and driving activity.
|1||Complete set of safety inspection records||100%|
|2||Safety inspection records are completed correctly. This includes all relevant sections being signed off as roadworthy||100%|
|3||Safety inspections are completed within the stated frequency||100%|
|4||Where there’s been a report of a road safety-related incident, driver defect reports are actioned||100%|
|5||Vehicle and trailer MOT initial pass rates||95% (if you only have up to 20 vehicles in your fleet, the KPI is no more than one failure in 13 rolling measurement periods)|
Driving activity KPIs
|Number||Measure||KPI (total number of infringements as a percentage of the total number of tachograph days)|
An infringement recorded on the tachograph analysis that would attract a band 1 fixed penalty under current legislation
An infringement recorded on the tachograph analysis that would attract a band 2 fixed penalty under current legislation
An infringement recorded on the tachograph analysis that would attract a band 3 fixed penalty under current legislation
An infringement recorded on the tachograph analysis that would attract a band 4 fixed penalty under current legislation
- total number of infringements found
- any infringement identified under current legislation
If you report less than 25 tachograph days in a measurement period, the KPI will be no more than one offence in the period.
Alerts you’ll get
When you’ve missed a KPI, but not by enough to send a trigger to DVSA, your digital systems will alert you. This will let you take action to stop it happening again.
There are 3 levels of alerts.
|Type of alert||Level||When it’s triggered|
|Yellow||Minor||Missing a KPI by less than 1% point|
|Amber||Moderate||Missing a KPI by 1% point or more|
|Grey||Major||Missing a KPI by 2% points or more|
Automatic triggers to DVSA
Grey alerts will automatically be reported to DVSA at the end of the measurement period.
KPI automated trigger to DVSA
DVSA will be automatically alerted when an operator:
- consistently fails to meet a KPI
- exceeds the KPI tolerance
DVSA will be alerted if any of the criteria for both maintenance and drivers’ hours are not met:
- over three rolling KPI measurement periods, the operator fails to meet any one of the key performance indicators three times by less than one percentage point
- over three rolling KPI measurement periods, the operator fails to meet any one of the key performance indicators twice by one percentage point or more
- during any KPI measurement period, any key performance indicator is exceeded by two percentage points or more
- over 13 rolling KPI measurement periods, any key performance indicator is exceeded more than four times
- a driver has infringed in three consecutive KPI measurement periods
Keeping your earned recognition operator status
The key performance indicators are used to measure your ongoing compliance.
The trigger points are used to indicate when you’re not meeting the key performance indicators.
The key performance indicators and trigger points are set by DVSA.
The system will notify DVSA when you miss a KPI by more than the acceptable amount.
The key performance indicators are measured on a 4 weekly basis.
As an earned recognition operator, your business must be audited every 2 years. This must be done by a DVSA authorised audit provider. But, if there are any issues with your performance, DVSA may ask you to arrange one sooner.
The DVSA authorised audit provider may charge for this service.
If you have a concession, you’ll need a partial audit every year.
As an operator, you need to make sure that the audit is carried out to the agreed timescales. It must be completed:
- no more than three months before the 2nd anniversary date of entry into the scheme
- no later than 2 years after the anniversary date of entry into the scheme
Example If you were accredited as an earned recognition operator on the 15 September 2018, the:
- earliest you can do the audit is the 15 June 2020
- latest you can do the audit is the 15 September 2020
The outcome of your audit will be one of:
- standards met
- standards part met
- standards not met
This means that you remain in the scheme as you’ve met all the standards set out in the audit and DVSA have agreed with the audit.
Standards part met
This means you’ll have to put an action plan in place. Your auditor will discuss what they found with you and send a proposed improvement plan and recommendations to DVSA.
Standards not met
This means that you’ve not met all the standards set out in the audit and DVSA have agreed with the audit.
What action DVSA takes next will depend on how far you’ve failed to meet the standards.
When you do not meet earned recognition standards
When you are not meeting the standards, such as:
- a key performance indicator has not been met and an alert is triggered
- compliance issues have been identified
- standards not met at periodic audit
DVSA will discuss the issues with you and consider all the known circumstances. They can use discretion when deciding what to do next. The action they take will depend on the seriousness of the issues.
In most cases, you’ll be given the opportunity to resolve any issues. The action taken may be:
- a desk-based assessment that may include a request for information
- a discussion at the operator’s request
- a discussion started at DVSA’s request - they will ask for more information, data and explanations
- an improvement action plan which may include a further audit
- removal from the scheme
Leaving the scheme
If you leave voluntarily
Membership of the DVSA earned recognition scheme is completely voluntary. You can leave at any time. All you have to do is give at least 7 days’ notice.
But, it does mean you’ll:
- be removed from the published list of accredited operators
- no longer be entitled to the benefits of being an earned recognition operator
If you’re refused entry to or removed from the scheme
DVSA can refuse entry to the scheme or remove membership if it thinks the scheme’s credibility could be damaged by:
- an operator
- anyone working for or on their behalf
Failure to meet the scheme standards
You may be removed from the scheme if you fail to meet standards. For example, if you:
- fail to complete a periodic audit within the timeframe
- do not provide access to your maintenance systems and data
- are not able to achieve the KPIs
- are continually non-compliant and do not improve
The removal process
If you’re removed from the scheme, DVSA will: give you 28 days’ notice and tell you the reasons why.
DVSA will not be liable for any of your costs resulting from your removal from the scheme.
You can appeal against the decision if you want to.