What is a Commercial Vehicle?

A yellow commercial vehicle: What is commercial vehicle

Commercial vehicles are defined by HMRC guidelines. HMRC places vehicles into different categories, which often has implications for the amount of taxes paid on the vehicle.

Read this article to learn more about commercial vehicles used for business operations and the road tax for commercial vehicle benefits.

Commercial Fleet Vehicle Definition

HMRC definition is as follows:

  • Weighing at least 3.5 tonnes or more
  • Able to haul at least one tonne of cargo
  • For business purposes
  • Lorries, vans, tractors, pickup trucks, and “car-derived vans” are all considered commercial vehicles.

In other words, commercial vehicles are not meant for personal trips or else they will be subjected to benefit-in-kind taxes.

Requirements for a Commercial Fleet Vehicle

In order for a vehicle to fall under the category of commercial vehicle it must have a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes and must be designed to move goods or objects. It must not have windows and the loading area must be expansive.

However, the requirements for car-derived vans are a bit different. Car-derived vans have a design that makes them look like cars on the outside while they function like vans on the inside.

yellow commerical vehicle vans parked in car lot

For a car-derived van to be classed as a business company vehicle, it must:

  • Have a laden gross weight of 2 tonnes
  • Be built on a platform designed to build vans by the same manufacturer
  • Not have back seats or windows, to discourage human transport – if it must have windows, they must be opaque or tinted
  • Not have floor panels – they can only feature loading bays

These structural requirements are usually to ensure that owners do not use the vehicle for ferrying passengers. Once you use it for people transportation, it loses its ‘commercial vehicle’ status.

Aside from these structural requirements, there are other conditions that a commercial vehicle must meet. The most important is that no employee can use the vehicle for personal commutes. If you can meet the requirements, you will enjoy paying less road tax on your fleet.

Commercial vehicle definition; Employer calculating the tax for a commercial vehicle

Beginners Guide to Commercial Vehicle Tax


What Taxes Are Required for Commercial Vehicles?

commercial vehicle definition: company van on the road subjected to road tax for commercial vehicles

Compared to company cars, commercial vehicles pay lower taxes. While cars have different tax rates (based on emissions), all vehicles used specifically for commercial purposes fall in the same tax category. This makes tax calculations easier.

Before discussing road tax for vans and lorries, we must mention that HMRC charges no tax on vehicles used solely for work purposes. This means you won’t have to pay anything so long as the van sees no private use.

However, taxes will come up when your commercial-only vehicles enter the realm of private usage. This is the benefit-in-kind tax charged on company cars.

Read more: How to deal with vehicle depreciation on your commercial fleet vehicles

Man buying a commercial vehicle

Get A Free Checklist for Buying the Best Commercial Vehicle


How Are Electric Commercial Vehicles Taxed?

Electric vehicles used for business purposes, which include electric vans, are taxed a lower BIK in order to serve as an incentive for businesses to invest more into EVs. If you use an electric commercial van or pickup for work only, you could benefit from this tax cut.

However, if you use it outside work-related journeys, you have to pay a BIK tax. Fortunately, the road tax for commercial vehicles that are electric is around 60% of the regular runninng rate for non-electric vehicles.

Do Commercial Vehicles Have Any Benefits?

Fleet manager standing beside white vehicle

Unlike other vehicles, commercial vehicles can qualify for VAT relief under HMRC laws. You’ll need to keep proper records of mileage and fuel usage before HMRC can judge how much VAT relief your business qualifies for. Plus, the road tax for such vehicles is lower.

Read more: Claim Your Miles: Business Mileage Trackers Can Save You Money

Commercial vehicles can be used to claim capital allowance. Business vehicles like vans qualify under the annual investment allowance that permits businesses to claim tax relief on certain products.

When used for this purpose, business vehicles will be classed under “plant and machinery”. This allows your business to benefit from capital allowances on their purchase.

Conclusion on ‘What are Commercial Fleets’

Given the confusing nature of HMRC definition of a commercial-only vehicle, you should try to understand what it means before buying, to ensure that you don’t make the mistake of paying fees you incurred by mistake.

Using truck GPS tracking to track your vehicles’ miles is a great way to be sure you’re paying the right amount of taxes each year. Learn more about vehicle GPS trackers today.

Read more: tractor tracking for businesses

The Best Way to Insure and Finance Your Commercial Vehicles

As a fleet manager, you need to choose a simpler and cost-effective way to run your business. Let’s find out how you can run a profitable business while insuring and financing your commercial vehicles.

What is the Best Commercial Vehicle Insurance?

Protecting a commercial vehicle with insurance

You can insure your multiple fleet vehicles under one commercial vehicle insurance. This method can save you money and time as a fleet manager dealing with several vehicles.

When it comes to commercial vehicle insurance, insurance providers offer a variety of insurance packages. Most businesses choose among these three main types:

  • Third-party insurance
  • Third-party, fire & theft
  • Fully comprehensive

For your fleet business, fully comprehensive insurance can serve as the best option. This commercial vehicle insurance will cover your vehicles and drivers, theft, fire and third-party. You’ll end up saving time and money, using this option.

How Many Commercial Vehicles Do You Need to Get a Fleet Insurance?

The minimum number of commercial automobiles will depend on the insurer. For your business to get fleet insurance, you need to have three or more vehicles. Some insurers can insure small businesses with two vehicles only.

Is it Better to Lease or Buy a Commercial Vehicle?

Handing over a pair of keys

Businesses may opt to buy or lease vehicles depending on their goals, budget and needs. You can purchase a vehicle and become the owner out rightly. However, this method may heavily impact your budget. On the other hand, you can choose to lease a vehicle. Here, you can go for hire purchase and pay for the vehicle over a given period.

If you don’t want to own a commercial vehicle, you may go for a business contract hire. Here, you pay a monthly rate intending to return the vehicle after a given period. Leasing can be a better choice since the leasing company takes care of the vehicle maintenance, thus saving you time and money.


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