Road Transport Operation United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is located off the north-western coast of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom comprises the whole of the island of Great Britain, which contains England, Wales, and Scotland—as well as the northern portion of the island of  Ireland. The UK population is circa 68 million with London being its capital city.  

Cabotage 

European operators may carry loads to, from or through the country. Loads carried between third countries can only be undertaken under a bilateral agreement. Cabotage is permitted. 

Dangerous Goods 

The UK is a party to ADR. It is essential that fully completed ADR documentation is prepared for the movement of dangerous goods. 

UK Tunnels & ADR 

All vehicles carrying Dangerous Goods have to be checked and may either be allowed through unescorted, accompanied or turned away. For information as to the UK tunnel codes and the separate table of codes for the dangerous goods being carried see below.  

 

Dangerous Goods and Tunnel Codes allowable or restricted  

Code 

Information Applicable 

B 

Most restrictive 

The passage is forbidden through tunnels of category B, C, D and E 

 

B1000C 

A carriage where the total net explosive mass per transport unit  

exceeds 1000 kg: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category B, C, D and E;  does not exceed 1000 kg: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category C, D and E 

B/D 

Tank carriage: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category B, C, D and E; 

Other carriages: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category D and E 

B/E 

Tank carriage: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category B, C, D and E; 

Other carriages: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category E 

C 

The passage is forbidden through tunnels of category C, D and E 

 

C5000D 

A carriage where the total net explosive mass per transport unit exceeds 5000 kg: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category C, D and E; 

does not exceed 5000kg: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category D and E 

C/D 

Tank carriage: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category C, D and E; 

Other carriages: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category D and E 

C/E 

Tank carriage: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category C, D and E; 

Other carriages: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category E 

D 

The passage is forbidden through tunnels of category D and E 

D/E 

Bulk or tank carriage: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category D and E; 

Other carriages: Passage forbidden through tunnels of category E 

E 
least restrictive 

The passage is forbidden through tunnels of category E 

- 

 

Passage allowed through all tunnels (For UN Nos. 2919 and 3331, see also ADR 8.6.3.1). 

 

Tunnel Codes 

 

Tunnel  

Location 

Tunnel Code 

Ramsgate 

Ramsgate, Kent 

Code A 

Dartford 

Dartford – M25 Northbound 

Code C 

Limehouse 

London 

Code E 

Rotherhithe 

London 

Code E 

Blackwall 

London 

Code E 

East India Dock Road 

London 

Code E 

Mersey (Queensway & Kingsway) 

Liverpool 

Code D 

Clyde  

Glasgow 

Code D 

Tyne 

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 

Code D 

 

The potential harm caused by some dangerous goods is amplified when transported through a tunnel. A Tunnel Restriction Code indicates the classes of tunnels that a vehicle containing such a substance can pass through, and in what quantities (if applicable). 

For further information, visit the UNECE website at the link below & select the country name applicable - http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/adr/country-info_e.html 

Abnormal Loads 

For indivisible loads which exceed the maximum authorised weights and dimensions, special authorisation must be requested from regional police headquarters and from the Highway and Bridge Authorities of each region to be crossed. 

To simplify the procedure, the Highways Agency has set up the web-based ESDAL project (Electronic Service Delivery for Ab Loads) available https://www.gov.uk/register-with-esdal  

All abnormal load operators will require a keeper’s certificate to prove ownership of the trailer which must be carried as part of the vehicle documents at all times.
An application form can be downloaded below:

Taxation 

A full tank of fuel can be imported duty-free. 

Customs 

TIR Carnets are accepted. ATA Carnets are accepted for certain temporary imports. CMR notes are advised. 

Movement Restrictions

There are no driving restrictions throughout the road network for goods vehicles at weekends or Public Holidays. 

Road Tolls – Motorways 

The following are Motorway charges in the UK. 

Road Charging Schemes 

During peak times drivers will be charged to use roads covered by these schemes:

The Lorry Road User Charge  

The Lorry Road User Charge is similar to the Eurovignette and came into force in April 2014. The HGV Road User Levy is a time-based charge which applies to all vehicles weighing 12 tonnes or more using the UK road network.
Find out more about the charge here -
 https://www.hgvlevy.service.gov.uk/  

Bridge and Tunnel Tolls 

There are many toll bridges and tunnels throughout the United Kingdom, many of which (such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge) are only designed to take a maximum weight of up to 3 tonnes. Use the location map links to find out where each bridge is located. 

A road 

Bridge or tunnel 

Location map 

A4 

Batheaston Bridge 

Bath, Somerset 

A15 

Humber Bridge 

Hull, Yorkshire 

A19 

Tyne Tunnels 

Wallsend, Tyne and Wear 

A38 

Tamar Bridge 

Plymouth, Devon 

A41 

Mersey Tunnels - Queensway 

Birkenhead, Liverpool 

A57 

Dunham Bridge 

Lincoln, Lincolnshire 

A59 

Mersey Tunnels - Kingsway 

Wallasey, Liverpool 

A533 

Mersey Gateway 

Halton, Cheshire 

A3025 

Itchen Bridge 

Southampton, Hampshire 

 

The following bridges are on minor roads and which are likely to have a 3.5-tonne weight limit. 

Road 

Bridge 

Location map 

B471 

Whitchurch Bridge 

Pangbourne, Berkshire 

B3129 

Clifton Suspension Bridge 

Bristol 

B4350 

Whitney-On-Wye Bridge 

Whitney-On-Wye, Hereford 

B4044 

Swinford Bridge 

Swinford, Oxfordshire 

B5159 

Warburton Bridge 

Warburton, Greater Manchester 

 

Aldwark Bridge 

Aldwark, North Yorkshire 

 

Kingsland Bridge 

Shrewsbury, Shropshire 

 

Cartford Bridge 

Preston, Lancashire 


Vehicle Documentation 

  • Green Card type insurance is required for all Foreign Operators
  • Original vehicle registration docs
  • A Nationality plate of the operator’s country of origin must be fitted to the rear of the vehicle/trailer. 

Maximum Weights & Dimensions 

Height 

There is no compulsory height in the UK 

Width 

2.55 metres (Fridges 2.6 metres) 

Length 

Artic 16.5 metres Road Train 18.75 metres 

Weight 

Artic 44 tonnes 
Road Train 44 tonnes 
There are also various maximum permitted weights on vehicles, trailers and road trains which are applicable according to the number of axles and type of suspension fitted. 


Safety Equipment 

It is compulsory to carry the following items of equipment and/or observe specific rules:- 

  • First Aid Kit 
  • Warning triangle 
  • Spare bulbs (advised) 
  • Seat belts must be worn 
  • Fire extinguisher 

It is not compulsory to carry snow chains onboard a vehicle, however, their use is not forbidden. Use of chains is controlled by general legislation: 'a tyre must not be unsuitable for the use or circumstances to which it is put' e.g. if there is no snow, or road damage is likely. 

Driver Legal Documents 

  • Full passport required for all foreign drivers/crew.
  • International driving licence.
  • Letter from employer giving driver permission to drive the vehicle or attestation letter and form.
  • EU Hours rules apply. 

If the UK fully leaves the EU on 31 January 2021, HGV drivers will require travel insurance with healthcare cover 

Speed Limits 

UK speed limits for buses, coaches and minibuses up to 12 metres long and goods vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tonnes:

  • Restricted road: 30mph 
  • Single carriageway: 50mph 
  • Dual carriageway: 60mph 
  • Motorway: 70mph 

Goods vehicles (not more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) are restricted to 60mph on Motorways if articulated or towing a trailer. 

UK speed limits for goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes in England and Wales:

  • Restricted road: 30mph 
  • Single carriageway: 50mph 
  • Dual carriageway: 60mph 
  • Motorway: 60mph 

UK speed limits for goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes in Scotland:

  • Restricted road: 30mph 
  • Single carriageway: 40mph 
  • Dual carriageway: 50mph 
  • Motorway: 60mph 
Trailers  

The types of vehicles not permitted to use the right hand (offside) lane on a motorway, which has three or more lanes open for use by traffic travelling in the same direction are:

  • A goods vehicle having a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes, 
  • A goods vehicle having a maximum laden weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes, which is required to be fitted with a speed limiter 
  • A passenger vehicle which is constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver the maximum laden weight of which exceeds 7.5 tonnes; 
  • A passenger vehicle which is constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver the maximum laden weight of which does not exceed 7.5 tonnes, which is required to be fitted with a speed limiter. 
  • A motor vehicle drawing a trailer 
  • A vehicle that is a motor tractor, a light locomotive or a heavy locomotive. 

There are exceptions to this rule, which are:

  • When it is necessary for the vehicle to be driven to enable it to pass another vehicle that is carrying or drawing a load of exceptional width 
  • For a vehicle to change lane during a period when it would not be reasonably practicable for it to do so without involving danger of injury to any person or inconvenience to other traffic 

Van Speed Limits 

The following speed limits apply to vans up to & including 3.5 tonnes:

  • Restricted road: 30mph 
  • Single carriageways: 50mph 
  • Dual Carriageways: 60mph 
  • Motorways70mph 

If the vehicle has a speed limiter fitted or is drawing a trailer, the van is not permitted in the outside (offside) lane of a motorway where 3 or more lanes are in use. 

Further Reading 

The following links provide guidance and further information

British Embassy 

Foreign & Commonwealth Office 
London 
Tel: 020 7008 1500  
Web: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office 

Transport Organisations 

There are two Transport Organisations within the UK which are:

Logistic UK (Freight Transport Association)  

Hermes House St John’s Road 
Tunbridge Wells 
Kent 
TN4 9UZ 
Tel: 03717 112222 
Email: [email protected]   
Web: https://www.logisticsuk.org   

Road Haulage Association  

Roadway House 
Bretton Way 
Bretton 
Peterborough 
PE3 8DD 

Help Desks 

Tel: 01274 863100 
Email: [email protected] (Michelle Byrom) 
Email: [email protected] (Joanne Priestley)  
Scotland & Northern Ireland 
Tel: 01506 414073
Email: [email protected] (Amanda Murphy) 
Web: www.rha.net