How to get a forklift licence

If you’re looking for a career as a forklift driver, getting a forklift licence is a good way of improving your job prospects as it will immediately attract potential employers. It also ensures you’re able to operate the machinery safely and efficiently. For any future forklift drivers, here’s everything you need to know about how to get a forklift licence.

What is a forklift licence?

A forklift licence is a document which proves that you are able to operate and drive a forklift safely. Receiving the right training before working as a forklift operator is extremely important for health and safety. Receiving your forklift licence means you understand how to keep yourself and others safe from harm whilst operating a forklift.

What is a forklift operator? 

Forklift operators are responsible for transporting a variety of heavy goods using industrial machinery. Operators usually work under the supervision of a warehouse manager or supply chain manager and work in warehouses or on construction sites. In order to operate forklifts, drivers must be trained and qualified with a valid forklift licence.

How hard is it to get a forklift licence?

If you receive good forklift training, it’s not hard to get your licence. Of course, it can be daunting to take your exams, but even if you fail, you can always retake the test or the course. 

How can you get a forklift licence?

Decide which forklift certification you’re interested in 

There are different types of forklift training courses so it’s important to consider your ability and the type of forklift you’re intending to drive before signing up.

Types of forklifts you may consider driving include:

  • Industrial Counterbalance: the most popular type of forklift utilised in many workplaces. 
  • Rider Operated Fork Truck: these versatile machines are primarily used indoors and have the ability to be driven in narrow aisles.
  • Side Loader: these machines are used to handle long materials such as timbers and cylinder tubes.
  • Narrow Aisle and Order Picker: these vehicles are primarily used in retrieving and picking pallets. 
  • Rough Terrain Forklift: these forklifts are used on muddy or uneven surfaces where pneumatic tires cannot operate. 
  • Telescopic Handler Truck: these forklifts are commonly found in agriculture and construction sites.
  • Multidirectional Fork Truck: these machines are used to carry large and bulky materials such as lumbers and metals sheets. 
  • Container Handler Forklift: these forklifts are often found in ports and are used to move and remove containers.

Enrol in a  forklift training course 

Research available accredited courses that are of interest to you. Training centres tend to be the ideal as they have complete facilities, high quality machinery and a qualified instructor to deliver the training. You may also be able to find forklift training courses through your employer or local community colleges.

Attend classroom lectures 

Once you’re enrolled, you’ll attend classroom training sessions where you’ll be introduced to different forklift operating elements including safety codes, driving techniques and vehicle loading. Specific modules will vary depending on the course. Classes usually last 6-8 hours and include a mix of videos, written materials and lectures.

Pass a written and practical exam 

Once you’ve completed training, there will be two exams. A written exam takes place first where you often have to pass with a score of at least 75%. Next, your physical skills will be tested in a practical exam where you’ll have to operate the forklift. Various other practical skills may also be tested including loading and unloading, navigating tight spaces and forklift inspections.

Receive your forklift licence 

When both exams are complete, you’ll be evaluated by the instructor on your overall performance. If you’ve passed the satisfactory requirements, you’ll be awarded your official forklift licence. 

What are the requirements for applying for a forklift licence? 

To apply for forklift training courses, you must be aged 17 or over. This is the minimum school leaving age which is allowed to work as a forklift operator in the UK. However, in more dangerous workplaces such as ports, the minimum age increases to 18 due to the inherent nature of work. 

A driving licence isn’t required to operate a forklift, unless the truck is to be driven on public roads. If this is required on a project, the responsibilities would need to be given to an operator with a valid UK driving licence. 

Operators are also expected to be in optimum physical and health condition due to the strenuous and physically-demanding nature of the job. Therefore operators may be required by employers to undergo a medical exam to determine their physical ability.

How much do forklift licences cost? 

The cost of forklift training varies depending on the type of program. Novice training courses which are aimed at beginners tend to be more pricey. As they last between 3-5 days, they can cost between £600-700. Other courses of various experience levels do tend to be shorter and can cost between £100-300. Accurate pricing will be determined by course providers.

How long will your forklift licence last? 

Whilst there is no official expiry date on forklift licences, it is recommended that they are recertified every three years. In some cases, licences may need re-evaluating sooner. This may happen if the operator has been involved in an accident, if they have been seen operating in an unsafe manner or if they’re looking to change vehicle type. 

Used by properly trained and certified drivers, forklifts can be incredibly reliable and useful tools. Take a look at our range of forklifts for hire to find the right one for your job.


Read our latest articles: