HGV Medical: What you need to know

HGV Medical: What you need to know
HGV Medical: What you need to know

posted 26 May 24

Getting or renewing an HGV license has many obstacles, but one of the biggest is the HGV medical exam. This test isn't like a standard driving examination with a hazard perception test, and instead sits alongside the HGV Theory test.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) requires HGV drivers to be in appropriately good health to operate commercial vehicles on UK roads. But how is this determined and how do you ensure you make the grade?

In this guide, we’ll run through what’s covered in the assessment, the steps you’ll need to take to complete your HGV examination, and the costs associated with it.

A Comprehensive Guide to the HGV Medical Exam

New HGV drivers in the UK must complete an HGV medical exam with the relevant accompanying paperwork (D4). This needs to be submitted to the DVLA by the doctor who performs the examination. This exam isn't 

Drivers over the age of 45 must also complete the medical exam whenever their HGV licence is due for renewal, which is every five years in categories: C, CE, C1, C1E, D, DE, D1 or D1E. For drivers under the age of 45, you must sign a declaration to confirm that you still meet the medical standards to renew your HGV driving entitlement.

The HGV medical exam is made up of two aspects:

Discussion with a doctor

Firstly, you’ll be interviewed by an attending doctor. During the interview, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss existing medical conditions that may interfere with your driving responsibilities, whether they’re physical or mental health related. Your medical history will also be discussed in this stage of the medical assessment.

Physical examination

Next, the doctor will check your vital signs, vision, and other aspects of your physical health, with the entire exam taking around 30 minutes. The attending doctor will fill out the official DVLA form once the examination is complete which they will submit directly to the DVLA.

After your examination, you can request a copy of the form from the DVLA if you choose to do so.

HGV Medical Test Requirements

What are the Medical Requirements for HGV Drivers?

Every HGV driver needs to meet DVLA medical requirements to receive approval from an NHS GP or approved private physician. This is to ensure that HGV operators drive safely. Here are some of the conditions that are checked for:

Eyesight

All HGV drivers must be able to read a number plate from 20 yards, with or without glasses or contact lenses. If you do need glasses, your prescription needs to be no higher than +8, and your vision needs to be 160 degrees or above.

If you aren’t sure how strong your vision is, make an appointment to see your optician before you undergo an HGV medical examination.

Neurological Conditions

Neurological problems can have serious consequences for any driver, be it a car, motorbike, or van. However, since HGV drivers are at the wheel of such large vehicles, the effects can be even more disastrous.

To check for any neurological disorders, a doctor will examine you and ask questions about the following kinds of conditions:

  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Blackouts
  • Memory problems
  • Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
  • Narcolepsy and cataplexy
  • Stroke
  • Prior brain surgery
  • Multiple Sclerosis.

Mental Health

A standard requirement for HGV drivers is that they must be in good mental health. Doctors will discuss many mental health issues with you and ask if you have a history of depression, hospitalisation for psychiatric issues, dementia, cognitive impairment, and other conditions.

Heart Conditions

Heart conditions that aren’t being controlled and treated are going to be problematic during an HGV medical examination. These can include everything from heart attacks to angina, strokes, and atrial fibrillation.

However, if your condition is being treated and managed properly, there shouldn’t be a problem, but there are some exceptions your doctor may need to discuss with you. For example, you won’t be able to drive within three months of having heart bypass surgery, or within 12 months of a stroke or unexplained period of unconsciousness.

Diabetes

Diabetes is not something that’s going to stop you from becoming an HGV driver because unfortunately, it’s a common illness that affects around 9.5% of the UK population.

If you have diabetes, you’ll simply need to demonstrate that you can keep it under control. This usually means recording two glucose tests per day or if you have insulin-treated diabetes, you’ll need your most recent three months of glucose readings stored on a personal meter, ready to produce on request.

Sleep Disorders

A major cause of serious road accidents among HGV drivers is a lack of sleep. Because of this, the HGV medical examination will include checking for signs and symptoms of sleep disorders.

A sleep disorder doesn’t automatically mean disqualification, and since most can be managed effectively, you’ll probably be able to pass the medical exam if you have one. Because of this, it’s important to be completely honest with the doctor.

Alcohol and Drug Use

During the HGV medical, a doctor will look for any signs of chronic drug and alcohol use. This is because like with any vehicle, it’s illegal to operate an HGV with drugs or alcohol in your system. As a result, it’s almost impossible for a chronic alcoholic or drug user to hold down an HGV driving job.

How Much Does the HGV Medical Exam Cost?

The NHS doesn’t have to provide the HGV medical exam free of charge, so there may be a fee of around £56-£63, including VAT. Before setting up an appointment with your GP, check if there is a cost and what it is.

Also, be aware that your GP practice may have a backlog of appointments and waiting times might be longer than you expected. Since an out-of-date HGV medical exam will prevent you from working in the profession, you should book yours in advance.

Do you Need Support Renewing Your HGV Medical?

At Search Driving, we work closely with HGV drivers to support them as they undergo licence applications and renewals, keeping them informed of changes to HGV medical requirements. We also help establish flexible shift patterns and a schedule that suits our drivers, along with a competitive market rate and weekly pay.

Find out more about the benefits of driving for Search and apply to our driving jobs today.