Special Vehicle Orders - Section 44 RTA

Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA) allows for an order to be made by the Secretary of State authorising the use on roads of certain vehicles which do not comply with the requirements of regulations made under section 41. The Secretary of State may attach restrictions and conditions to the use of the vehicle.

The Secretary of State may make an order under section 44 in two ways:

  • The first is to make an order by statutory instrument
  • The second is to make an order which applies only to specified vehicles or to vehicles of specified persons

The first way may, for convenience, be described as a general order and the second as an individual order.

Vehicle Special Orders Section 44 requirement

The Secretary of State may by order (Section 44 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) authorise, subject to such restrictions and conditions as may be specified by or under the order, the use on roads of Special Vehicles not complying with Section 41 of the Act. The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (C&U) are made under Section 41 of the Act. Transport Technology and Standards (TTS) is the Secretary of States' delegated division within the Road Safety Directorate responsible for the maintenance and issue of Section 44 orders.

Section 44 orders may be either:

(1) Vehicle types contained within The Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003 (Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 1998) (STGO).

This can be viewed on-line at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2003/20031998.htm

(2) Individual Vehicle Special Orders (VSO) are produced for applicants by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

Please note that no individual order is required for vehicles meeting and operating under the permissive requirements of the Special Types General Order (1) above, as the conditions to be met are set out in the Statutory Instrument and any subsequent amendments.

Application for a Vehicle Special Order (VSO)

The Vehicle Certification Agency is responsible for granting and maintaining individual Vehicle Special Orders under Section 44 of the UK Road Traffic Act 1988.

When will an individual VSO be issued?

Individual VSOs (2) above, are not issued simply because a vehicle cannot comply with UK Construction & Use (C&U) Regulations. An order is only issued when:

  1. Suitable information has been provided by the applicant that sets out the processes that will be in place to ensure that appropriate safety issues and requirements are met; and,
  2. When and if the reasons for non-compliance with C&U regulations are justified and supported.

The applicant must provide full details as requested to enable VCA to make a valued decision. Individual VSO is required to allow the use on roads of a small number of vehicles, which are special by type or purpose. Most orders are made to allow vehicles outside the scope of the special types listed in the general order (1). These vehicles may, for example, be for tests and trials, abnormal load movements, or 'one-off' specials.

How to apply

Apply to Vehicle Certification Agency in writing with the following initial information.

  1. Name and address of person/organisation making the application
  2. Details of persons/organisations who will be using the vehicles, if different from (1)
  3. The number of vehicles involved
  4. Type of vehicles involved: make, model, registration and/or chassis (serial) numbers of motor vehicles or trailers. These will be listed on any order issued
  5. Details of the vehicles e.g. number of axles, individual axle weights, and gross vehicle weights (both in kg), plus dimensions (in metres)
  6. In the case of vehicle combinations, overall weights (in kg) and dimensions (in metres)
  7. Details of the C&U Regulations with which the vehicles do not comply and the reasons why they cannot comply. The Regulations are specified on an Order and it should be made clear that failure to comply with non-specified Regulations, or supplying incorrect data would invalidate an Order.

You may send this information as an Email, but be aware that email is not a secure medium, and as such, VCA cannot be held responsible for any loss of the data or subsequent misuse by a third party. Applications may also be submitted using surface mail, but this may introduce unnecessary delay.

Follow this link if you wish to.apply for a VSO to cover the use of a vehicle in the Longer Semi-Trailer trial

On receipt of your application

VCA will evaluate your application and contact you should further information be required. Various organisations including the Police, Local Authorities and other interested parties, both within and outside of the UK Department of Transport may be consulted, especially in respect of the conditions to be imposed. Following receipt of all information, and assuming that there are neither any technical reasons nor objections from any of the parties consulted, an Order will be prepared and dispatched by email. 

Once an order has been issued

Orders are issued for varying periods of time and at the discretion of the UK Department for Transport. Typically, they are issued for a period of up to 5 years. An example of an Order for a Land Train and associated guidance is below.

Please note that the Secretary of State may revoke an Order.

Address for applications:
Email: vso@vca.gov.uk 

Vehicle Special Orders
VCA Midlands Centre
Watling Street, Nuneaton
Warwickshire, CV10 0UA

Source – Vehicle Certification Agency