So…You want to take the plunge and upgrade your licence to a heavy vehicle drivers licence? Grab a beverage, kick-back and dedicate the next few minutes to ensuring you’re up to scratch to meet the requirements needed to do just that.

Perhaps you’re a young driver, looking to upgrade to your first heavy vehicle licence or maybe you’re an old hand with many years of experience in the transport industry looking to take the next step.

Regardless of who you are, what licence class you currently hold or which licence you’d like to obtain, there are a multitude of opportunities out there for individuals with a heavy vehicle drivers licence in their skill-set.

“But how do you I even upgrade my licence? What are the minimum requirements expected of me? What fees should I be aware of?” – These are all valid questions so don’t stress if you’re a bit confused or overwhelmed at the process of updating or upgrading your licence, we understand it’s a lot of information to remember!

Movin’ On Up: Where To Start

Back To Basics:

As cliche as it sounds, the best place to start is at the beginning. Assess where you’re currently at and plan out where you’d like to be. Recognise which licence class you currently hold, which class you’d like to obtain and figure out your ‘why’. As in; Why do you want your licence upgraded? Are you a job seeker looking to expand your career opportunities? Perhaps it has been a personal goal you’ve wanted to achieve? Does your current employer need you to upgrade your licence?

Once you’ve figured out why you’d like to upgrade your licence, investigate the legalities of upgrading and what is needed from you as a base requirement (it must be your lucky day because we’ve outlined a few of them below).

Meet Minimum Licence Requirements:

You must have held a provisional or open licence for a period of one year (as a minimum). Unfortunately this means if you’re currently without a licence, on your learner’s permit or have not yet held those licence classes for at least one year, you won’t be eligible to upgrade to your heavy vehicle licence (yet!).

Important: If you’re chasing a HR licence or above, please be aware there are variations to these minimum requirements that we detail further down).

Seek Medical Clearance:

You’ll need to declare that you are medically fit to drive (some conditions such as epilepsy can impact your ability to obtain medical clearance so it’s best to pay your doc a visit if you’re harboring any possible conditions that you believe may impact your driving).

Ace Your Road Rules Test:

March on down to your local Department of Transport and organize to sit your ‘Learner Theory Test’. It’ll cost you $24.75 (as at February 2019) and consists of 10 multiple choice questions on the road rules as they pertain to heavy vehicles. To pass you’ll be required to answer at least 8 of the 10 questions correctly so we recommend brushing up with a practice road rules test here.

P.S. It’s important to note you can only sit the actual test once a day but don’t worry if you’re unsuccessful the first time around as you are permitted to resit the test during the next business day.

Bonus Tip: Regardless of which class ‘C’ licence you hold (automatic or manual), you will be eligible to learn to drive a manual gearbox transmission when upgrading to your heavy vehicle licence.

‘L’ is for Learner: What To Expect When Learning To Drive A Heavy Vehicle:

Ready. Set. Drive!

Once you’ve obtained your learners permit for a heavy vehicle, it’s time for the real work to begin (don’t worry, the excitement is real too as you’ll finally be able to climb aboard a heavy vehicle to start putting those theory skills to practice)!

That’s right – If you find yourself at this point, it’s time to give us a call to organize some heavy vehicle driving lessons! Lessons are available on an hourly basis, however, most first timers heavily benefit from at least 2-hours behind the wheel to kick proceedings off in order to familiarize themselves with the vehicle and shake off any nerves.

Booking in with a reputable driving school for your lessons is a great way to ensure everything you’re doing everything right (from a legal perspective) and alleviate some of the stresses involved to allow you the best opportunity to focus on nailing your driving. We’ll worry about the important details such as fitting each vehicle with the required yellow ‘L’ plates and matching you with one of our experienced industry professional driving instructors to show you the ropes and guide you through this journey.

It’s important to note that whomever the supervising driver in the vehicle, they must hold an open licence that is current and in the licence class you’re undertaking lessons for. They must also have held that licence status for a minimum period of one year (don’t worry – our heavy vehicle driver trainers have decades of industry experience to make the experience as seamless as possible and prepare you for your test with countless tips and tricks to nail it on the big day).

Don’t Forget To Remember These:

Whilst we endeavour to take as much of the burden off your shoulders as possible, there are a few responsibilities that fall into your hands to ensure you’re legally able to sit your driving lessons.

Firstly, you’ll need to bring your current driver’s licence with you to each lesson as you’re required under legislation to have it on your persons at all times whilst operating the vehicle.

Secondly (and critically), you must not be under the influence of any illicit or prescription drugs whilst undertaking lessons and your blood alcohol reading must be at zero (yes, zero!).

The final point does not pertain to every individual, however, if you’re an individual who has conditions attached to their licence, it’s important to ensure you’re obeying these as stipulated on your licence (e.g. wearing glasses if required to whilst driving).  You can learn about these conditions in further detail on the Queensland Department of Transport website here.

Get To Know Your Driver Trainer:

Feeling comfortable with your driver trainer is crucial to your overall outcome (not to mention you’ll be spending quite a few hours of your life with them!). They’ll be transferring decades worth of industry knowledge and skills to you and you’ll need to feel and build a level of mutual trust and respect in order to succeed. Whilst it’s difficult to determine exactly how many hours worth of lessons each individual will need to succeed (re: how long is a piece of string?) as competency is achieved at varying rates, ultimately you’ll decide (in conjunction with the professional opinion of your dedicated driver trainer) when you’re ready to take the leap and sit your practical driving test.

Please note: The Queensland Department of Transport requires a test fee of $57.90 (February 2019) to be paid upon the booking of a practical driving test (Please Note: SDS Training charges a small administration fee of $2.10). Unfortunately, test spots are often booked weeks (and sometimes even months) in advance and as a result, we will often endeavour to book your practical driving test as far in advance as possible to avoid prolonging the process of obtaining your licence.

Which Licence Is Which? Separating Your LR From Your MC (And Everything In-Between):

Light Rigid (LR):

What It Is:

  • A motor vehicle with a gross vehicle mass over 4,500 kg to a maximum of 8,000 kg (no axle limit) or which carries more than 12 passengers (including the driver) to a maximum of 8,000 kg.

Vehicles You Can Operate:

  • A class C vehicle
  • A bus or truck (including a prime mover or a mobile crane) not more than 8t GVM.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Must have held: a Car (C class) licence for at least one (1) year.

When You Can Start Learning To Drive:

  • On attaining your Car (C class) licence.

Medium Rigid (MR):

What It Is:

  • A motor vehicle that has 2 axles and a gross vehicle mass greater than 8,000 kg.

Vehicles You Can Operate:

  • A class LR vehicle.
  • A bus or truck (including a prime mover or a mobile crane) over 8t GVM with a maximum of 2 axles.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Queensland Transport requires that the student has held a car licence for a period of at least one year (1 year).

Heavy Rigid (Restricted):

What It Is:

A motor vehicle that has 3 or more axles and a gross vehicle mass greater than 8,000 kg. This vehicle licence class utilizes a 6 speed synchromesh gearbox (no double clutching). Trainees will receive a Heavy Rigid licence with a restricted (B) endorsement on it.

Vehicles You Can Operate:

  • More than 8 Ton GVM (must be more than 2 axles) plus trailer (Max 9 Ton GVM).
  • An articulated bus (a bus that can bend in the middle).

Minimum Requirements:

  • The Queensland Department of Transport requires that the student has held a car licence for at least two years (2 years) or a Light/Medium Rigid licence for one year (1 year).

Heavy Rigid (Open):

What It Is:

  • A motor vehicle that has 3 or more axles and a gross vehicle mass greater than 8,000 kg. This licence class is suited to individuals operating civil, earth-moving, cement, tipper, large school buses/coaches and local/interstate truck drivers. It is also suitable for those aspiring to enter the resources industry (gas and coal). It utilizes an 18 speed roadranger (crash box)

Vehicles You Can Operate:

  • More than 8 Ton GVM (must be more than 2 axles) plus trailer (Max 9 Ton GVM).

Minimum Requirements:

  • Queensland Transport requires that the student has held a car licence for at least two years (2 years) or a Light Rigid or Medium Rigid licence for one year (1 year).

Heavy Combination (HC):

What It Is:

  • A prime mover to which is attached a single semi-trailer plus any unladen converter dolly, or rigid motor vehicle attached to a trailer that has a gross vehicle mass greater than 9,000 kg plus any unladen converter dolly. This course is for drivers who wish to upgrade their driving skills from Medium or Heavy Rigid to a Semi-Trailer.

Vehicles You Can Operate:

  • A truck (including a prime mover or mobile crane) over 8t GVM with a trailer of more than 9t GVM.

Minimum Requirements:

  • The Queensland Department of Transport requires that the student has held a Medium Rigid or Heavy Rigid licence for a period of one year (1 year).

Multi-Combination (MC):

What It Is:

  • Any heavy combination unit towing one or more trailers, each having a gross vehicle mass greater than 9,000 kg. This licence class is for serious road professionals who need to upgrade or re-familiarize with modern day driving practices.

Vehicles You Can Operate:

  • A B-double (prime mover towing 2 semitrailers, with 1 semitrailer supported at the front and connected to the other semitrailer)
  • A road train (motor vehicle, other than a B-double, towing 2 or more trailers)

Minimum Requirements:

  • The Queensland Department of Transport requires that the student has held a Heavy Rigid or Heavy Combination licence for a period of one year (1 year).

Please Note: Multi Combination vehicle driver assessments are conducted by private training organisations – No Queensland Department of Transport testing is required. SDS Training is certified to deliver TLIC4006A Drive Multi-Combination vehicle and conduct Multi-Combination training sessions – both of which are designed to give you the very best driving experience and exposure to the skills you need to succeed in the modern transport industry.

Find The (Fun)ds With Government Funding:

Certificate 3 Guarantee Program:

Up-skilling can prove expensive – but it doesn’t have to be. Many people are surprised to learn of the plethora of funding opportunities available. Haven’t yet completed a certificate III qualification or higher? Why not check out the Certificate 3 Guarantee program (funded by the Queensland Government)?

The Certificate 3 Guarantee supports eligible individuals to complete their first post-school certificate III qualification and increase their skills to move into employment, re-enter the workforce or advance their career. It also supports school students to access training and Queensland’s Year 12 graduates to transition to employment by providing fee-free training in high priority qualifications.

Funded Courses:

Bonus Tip: This is an excellent way to obtain your heavy vehicle driving licence and a qualification simultaneously. Why not take a look at our Certificate 3 Guarantee eligibility check-list here to see if you’re a candidate for funding.

Broaden Your Horizons:

Cross-Skill To Your Hearts Content:

Another great way to expand your current skill-set, impress your employer or spark the interest of potential employers is to undertake a course that complements obtaining or upgrading your heavy vehicle driving licence. Check out a couple of excellent examples below:

  • TLIF0005 Apply a fatigue risk management system (designed for heavy vehicle operators/drivers)
  • TLIF0006 Administer a fatigue risk management system (designed for heavy vehicle schedulers)
  • TLID2004A Load Restraint/TLIA1001A Secure Cargo

Please Note: The National Heavy Regulator (the governing body for the Australian transport industry) has recently taken steps to improve the level of regulation in and around the transport industry with the hope to improve the safety of those employed. Only a handful on RTOs across Australia have the authorization to deliver training relevant to this issue (including the courses listed above). Being at the forefront of the industry, SDS Training is proud to be one of them. To find out more about these critical changes, please visit ‘Chain of Responsibility Legislation Changes & How It Affects You’.

Want To Learn More?

Give us a call on 1300 000 737 or send an enquiry to to discuss the best training options available to you.