CPCS – A Quick Guide

CPCS – A Quick Guide

One of the most common questions that we get asked at FTS, is about the CPCS Card Scheme – Red Card? Blue Card? Theory Test? Practical Test?
What does it all mean?

Firstly, it’s very difficult to do a guide to CPCS which will cover all operators. People whose cards have expired may not fit into the same pigeon hole as a new entrant for example.
I will try to cover the masses with a simple guide. This guide will work for everyone who follows the path and doesn’t wander off it.
Check out CPCS- An Unofficial Guide for more information.

Ok, they say a picture paints a thousand words so hopefully this picture will save me a bit of typing!

Red Card

The is the route that a new entrant to the scheme would take.

To gain a red card, you need to complete a Technical Test. This consists of a theory test followed by a practical test.

As with anything CPCS/CSCS related, you need to have done the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (more commonly known as the CSCS Test) within the past 2 years before you can do this.

If you are fully experienced, you can opt to take the Technical test without any prior training. We will send you the theory questions and study notes in advance for you to revise. You can then choose to book the Theory Test and Practical Test on the same day, or book the Theory Test and pass that before you book the Practical Test. We recommend the latter unless you are supremely confident with the Theory Test.

Note: If you require training, we offer training from full novice courses, to a couple of hours test preparation training. Call us to discuss your options.

If you are successful with both parts, you will get a Red trained Operator card which lasts for 2 years.

Upgrade to a Blue Card

Within the 2 year life of your Red Card, you will need to complete the relevant NVQ to upgrade to a Blue Card.

Once you are registered with us, we will arrange to come out to your site to complete the NVQ.
The NVQ is NOT a Test.

We gather evidence in various forms: Witness Testimony from your management, photographs, observation, oral questions, written questions, videos – whatever evidence we can gather. We need variety! We want to see you busy at work, not in the canteen with your feet up and a coffee!
We then collate all of this evidence in a portfolio and match it against a list if given criteria. once you hit all of the criteria we are done.

It sounds more daunting than it actually is – in a nutshell, if you are putting the machine to work, we will hit the criteria.

The portfolio is then taken back to the office and compiled before going through our own internal quality assurance before we apply for your qualification.

Providing again you have passed the dreaded CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test within the past 2 years, we will apply for your Blue Competence Card which lasts for 5 years.

Renew Blue card

When you receive your Blue Card, a log book will follow within a few weeks. This will be needed when you come to renew your Blue Card in 5 years.

There are 3 requirements to renew a Blue Card.

The CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test within the last 2 years (obviously!)

A CPCS Renewal Test for each category – this is booked and taken at the same time as your HS Test. Each RT is 15 questions specific to the category of plant to be renewed. Fact sheets can be downloaded prior to taking this test.

Log Book or On Site Assessment.  You need to have record at least 300 hours per category in your log book. Until very recently, you needed to have your Log Book approved by a company Validator – the CPCS scrapped this in the Summer of 2019. CPCS will be stepping up their random Log Book spot checks so you will still need to keep a log book if you go down this route.
If you don’t have 300 hours recorded in a Log Book, you need to carry out a basic practical assessment for each category. This is a stripped down version of the Practical Test that you will have taken at Red Card stage.

Once all 3 parts are done, you can apply for your new 5 year Blue Card.

If you are struggling with any of the above, we will be happy to help you fill in the renewal form or assist you with any of the requirements.


Check out CPCS- An Unofficial Guide for more detailed information on each step of the CPCS process.

Call us on 0161 762 0834 if you have any questions or need to book any of the elements.



CPCS Red Card Blue Card


A09 – Forward Tipping Dumper
– Tracked
– Wheeled
A10 – 180 Excavator < 5t
A12 – 180 Excavator > 5t
A14 – Rough Terrain FLT
A16 – Counterbalance FLT
A17 – Telescopic Handler
– Industrial
– Up to 9m
– All sizes
– Suspended Loads
A18 – Reach
A21 – Wheeled Loading Shovel
A22 – Tracked Loading Shovel
A23 – Skidsteer Loader
A25 – MEWP Scissor
A26 – MEWP Boom
A31 – Ride on Roller
A34 – Dozer
A36 – Lorry Loader (HIAB)
A40 – Slinger Signaller
– Static Duties
– Excavator
– Knuckle Boom (HIAB)
A41 – Loader Compressor
A42 – Crusher
A43 – Screener
A56 – Arctic Dump Truck
– Up to 15t
– All Sizes
A57 – Rigid Dump Truck
– All Sizes (wheeled)
– Rear Tipping
A58 – 360 Excavator < 10t
A59 – 360 Excavator > 10t
– Tracked
– Wheeled

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