Forklift Operation Do I need a License to Drive a Forklift?

forklift driver moving pallets
Whether you’re interested in working within the haulage industry or you’re just looking to take up a new job opportunity as a forklift driver, you may be confused about the requirements needed. In this article we discuss the necessary requirements to become a forklift driver as well as the additional qualifications and skills that will help you get noticed and increase your chances of getting employed.
warehouse forklift

Necessary Requirements

License – A driving license isn’t required to drive a forklift truck nor do you need a ‘forklift licence’. Acquiring additional training however will stand you in good stead when applying for a forklift driver role. It will also improve onsite safety standards and your confidence as a driver.

Health – As a forklift driver you will be in charge of operating a heavy piece of machinery safely, therefore you will need to meet the same standards of health as required for a full UK driving licence. Some employers may ask you to undertake a health and fitness screening before deeming you fit to drive.

Basic Health Requirements

As a forklift operator you will need to meet certain standards of agility which allows full movement of the neck, torso and limbs. If you are an experienced forklift driver and have lost a limb you may be re-employed after successful retraining.


Excellent eyesight is not essential for forklift operation but effective use of both eyes is typically required. However, people with monocular vision may be permitted to operate a forklift as long as they can meet basic standards of practice. If you are short sighted and require a prescription to correct your distance vision, you must wear your glasses or contact lenses at all times while operating the forklift.


Good hearing is a bonus but not a requirement of forklift operation. If you are hard of hearing and require the use of a hearing aid this is not likely to affect your performance however your employer should conduct a risk assessment to determine whether or not you can safely operate the forklift with limited hearing. You may also be required to consult your doctor before applying for a forklift driving role. As long as your hearing ability does not constitute as a hazard, you should be permitted to drive the forklift.

Other Medical Conditions and Disabilities


The requirements for driving a forklift truck as a person with epilepsy are the same as those for holding a standard driving licence. This means that if you are eligible for a UK driving licence then you should be permitted to drive a forklift.

High Blood Pressure

During medical screening, if you are found to have high blood pressure your employer should not permit you to use a forklift. Once your blood pressure is confirmed to be well controlled by a doctor, you should be allowed to drive again.


In accordance with the disability discrimination act 1995 and the equality act 2010, employers must assess your ability to safely operate and drive a fork lift as an individual, not based on your disability alone. Many disabled people have developed compensatory skills which allow the person to handle equipment and machinery safely. Your employer will need to consider your ability to operate and drive the truck safely and your competence in an emergency. Should you need it, your employer should also make reasonable adjustments to the truck and your working environment to so that you can handle and drive the truck safely.

Good Coordination and Dexterity

Operating a forklift requires good coordination and fine motor skills; some experience playing sports, playing an instrument or practicing artistic activities is worthwhile noting in your job application if you want to get noticed.

Age Requirements

The HSE (health and safety executive) states that to drive a forklift you will need to be at least minimum leaving school age (16). Many employers however will not employ people under the age of 18 due to age-related limitations in the workplace.
warehouse forklift driver

Additional Qualifications and Skills

Certificates and Training

Although not essential, acquiring additional training will help to improve your chances of getting the job you want. Your employer should provide you with adequate training for the job required. However, taking on training before applying for a role may help to increase your chances of getting it. If you are already experienced in forklift driving, there are refresher courses and advanced courses available. Alternatively, if you have never driven a forklift before you may want to take a beginners course before applying for a role.


Good Time Management and Organisation Skills

As a forklift driver you are likely to be responsible for locating, moving and unloading stock. You may also be responsible for keeping inventory records and activity logs. Unloading stock is a time sensitive task which requires good time management skills. In addition, keeping records of activities and logs of stock will also require good organisational skills.

Familiarity with a Warehouse Environment

Warehouses can be hazardous; therefore it is essential that all warehouse staff follow essential safety procedures and protocol. Experience in a warehouse may be something your employer will look for.