At FLC, we’re often asked the question: do you need a driver’s license to drive a forklift? The answer is yes – kind of. Forklift operators don’t need a driver’s license, necessarily, but they do need to be formally trained and certified before they can begin working. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has strict requirements for equipment operator training and licensing. Fail to abide by these requirements and your employer may face expensive fines and penalties. 

OSHA research has shown that unlicensed forklift operators are more likely to be involved in workplace accidents. With a little training, you can learn to sidestep the most common types of forklift accidents and injuries. FLC’s convenient online courses allow for quick and easy certification training. In about an hour’s time, you can master forklift operation and avoid receiving a penalty for driving a forklift without a license.

Risks and Penalties for Driving a Forklift Without a License

So why exactly do you need a driver’s license to drive a forklift? The most common types of workplace accidents involving forklifts are turnovers and collisions, which are due primarily to operator error. But, many of these accidents could have been prevented if operators received proper training.

Unlicensed forklift operators lack the training needed to properly operate a forklift under conditions such as on ramps or slopes, rough or uneven terrain, and various other adverse jobsite conditions. They require skills only professional training can provide.

Without proper training, unlicensed operators:

  • Aren’t capable of recognizing and avoiding potential hazards that could result in accidents causing serious injuries or fatalities.
  • Won’t understand the importance of properly inspecting and maintaining forklift equipment.
  • Lack the knowledge and experience to safely work around overhead obstacles, avoid electrical hazards and operate the equipment when there are pedestrians present.

Training enables operators to earn a license that verifies they know how to safely use a forklift. The license is a must-have for all operators who use forklifts as part of their day-to-day work.

As an employer, you need to be aware that fines for unlicensed forklift drivers are substantial. According to OSHA, any employer who knowingly or repeatedly violates the forklift training requirements may be fined thousands of dollars for each day the violation continues beyond the “cure by” date up to a maximum of $136,532. Furthermore, any person who makes a false statement, representation, or claim of certification in any form may be fined up to $13,653, imprisoned for up to six months or both. Ignoring OSHA regulations, including not complying with their requirement for forklift operators to be properly trained and licensed before they’re permitted to operate the equipment, can have severe consequences on employers.

Consequences of Driving a Forklift Without a License

Is it illegal to drive a forklift without certification? Kind of! While you won’t be hauled away in handcuffs for violating OSHA regulations, your employer may face steep penalties. It’s up to the employer to provide forklift operator training for their workers. If your employer hasn’t offered you the chance to get formally certified, you may want to raise the issue with your safety manager.

It pays to get certified – and not just to avoid OSHA fines. Trained forklift operators tend to be safer, more efficient workers. Once you receive formal training, you’ll be certified for three years. Should you opt to train with FLC, you’ll enjoy a lifetime of free renewal training, too. Certification is one of the best ways to invest in your future career. Forklift operators will find no shortage of opportunities once they’ve earned their official certification.

Forklift License Training Courses 

Now that you know the answer to the question “do you need a license to drive a forklift,” explore the options for getting licensed. FLC offers three forklift license training programs. Here’s what’s covered by each:

Forklift Training and Certification Kit

In as little as an hour, this OSHA-compliant course will teach your drivers everything they need to know about safely operating forklifts in the workplace. FLC’s Training and Certification kit includes all materials needed to train and certify each of your current and future operators for a one-time payment of just $299.

Train a Trainer Program

FLC‘s Train a Trainer course was designed for companies that have a forklift operator training program in place, but need an-in-house trainer to train and evaluate their unlicensed drivers, and new workers as they come on board. The cost to become a Certified Forklift Safety Expert is only $149.

Bundle and Save Kit

This money-saving package includes both FLC’s Forklift Training and Certification kit and our Train a Trainer course for just $399. That’s a discount of $50 over purchasing the two courses separately. Can you drive a forklift without a license? The answer is no – but this kit will have you ready to operate lifts in no time!

Your forklift operators will receive everything they need to know to safely fulfill their duties and protect the lives of their coworkers and themselves while on the job. You, as their employer, will avoid the penalties and fines associated with allowing your workers to drive forklifts without being certified and licensed.

Frequently Asked Questions about Forklift Licenses

Do you need a driver’s license to drive a forklift? It’s one of many questions we’re asked about forklift operation best practices. Here are a few more, along with our answers:

How Old Must You be to Operate a Forklift?

All forklift operators must be at least 18. This isn’t just a recommendation – it’s the law. Break the law and your business could face expensive fines and penalties.

Can a forklift operator drive a lift if he or she has a driver’s license?

Many people ask us “what license do I need to drive a forklift?” The answer hinges on an important distinction: a driver’s license and a forklift license are different. Although someone may hold a driver’s license, he or she also needs a forklift license to legally operate a lift.

Can an operator drive a forklift without a driver’s license?

Yes. OSHA doesn’t require a standard vehicle driver’s license to operate a forklift, even on public roads while driving to and from jobsites! The driver must, however, have already received OSHA compliant forklift operator training and certification from an approved trainer such as

Can I operate a forklift without a license?

No, you need a forklift license to operate a lift and remain in compliance with OSHA regulations. OSHA doesn’t offer forklift operator training or issue forklift licenses, but rather requires operators to be properly trained and certified in accordance with their regulations by an approved trainer such as When the training has been completed, certifications and operator cards are issued, which serve as the workers’ license in the event of an audit or safety violation.

Do you need a license to drive a FLT?

FLT is a term sometimes used when talking about a forklift, so FLT operators are required to have OSHA-compliant operator training and certification in order to legally operate the equipment. See the question and answer immediately for more information on licensing and certification requirements.

Is it hard to get a forklift license?

Not at all when you choose to train and certify your workers! In as little as an hour, your forklift operators can complete our100 % OSHA-compliant certification training.

Is it possible to get a forklift license online?

Absolutely! Our online forklift certification training program offers unmatched convenience. It gives anyone the ability to access our program materials via their smartphone, tablet, or desktop or laptop computer. This ensures our program materials are accessible anywhere an internet connection is available.

Is it possible to fail a forklift certification test?

FLC’s pass rate is 100%. Although most trainees pass the class the first time it’s taken, if a student fails, the training can be repeated as many times as necessary.

How long does forklift certification last?

Forklift operators are required to recertify every three years. To do so, operators can complete an OSHA-compliant refresher course.

What happens if a licensed forklift operator causes an accident?

Despite a forklift operator’s best efforts, an accident may still occur. In this instance, the operator will need to complete forklift certification training once again.

Earn Your Forklift Certification Online Today

Do you need a driver’s license to drive a forklift? As mentioned above, you need to be certified to operate a forklift, but you don’t need a driver’s license. If you’re uncertain of how to proceed, allow to guide you through the next steps. In just a few moments, you can begin training from the convenience of your smartphone or laptop.

With the click of a few buttons, you can start learning about industry best practices and how to stay safe on the job. Most people complete our online training within an hour or so. With so much to gain, why not sign up and get started right away?

If you still have questions about our offerings, feel free to reach out to our team to learn more. Click here to connect with us online or give us a call at (888) 278-8896.