Construction and Use Regulations set out the maximum Length, Width and Height of motor vehicles. The exemptions to these requirements are also noted below and in cases where exceeding these dimensions is the case, the factor that dictates this concerns abnormal loads which is dealt with under STGO (Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003), which can be accessed here - STGO.

Overall Length of Vehicle
Regulation 7 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states that the overall length of a vehicle or combination of vehicles shall not exceed the maximum length specified below :-

Motor vehicles

Trailers (see Note 1 below)


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Maximum permitted length
The table below shows the relevant vehicle type and its maximum permitted length.

Vehicle Type Maximum Permitted Length
Rigid Vehicle 12 metres
Articulated Vehicle
(No set limit if designed to carry indivisible loads of exceptional length)
16.5 metres
Articulated vehicle with a low loader semi-trailer manufacturered on or after 1st April 1991 (excluding step-frame low loaders) 18 metres
Car Transporter semi-trailer:
Kingpin to rear
Kingpin to any point on the front
12.5 metres
4.19 metres
Other semi-trailers:
Kingpin to rear
Kingpin to any point on the front
(These dimensions include the thickness of any front or rear wall. If there is more than one kingpin position the measurement is taken from the rearmost position on semi-trailers manufactured before 1 January 1999, and from the foremost position if manufactured on or after 1 January 1999.)
12 metres
2.04 metres

Composite trailer 14.04 metres
Drawbar trailer (excluding length of drawbar) provided:
The trailer has FOUR or more wheels and the drawing vehicle has a maximum gross weight over 3,500 kgs.
(No set limit if designed to carry indivisible loads of exceptional length).
12 metres
Other drawbar trailers (excluding length of the drawbar) 7 metres
One trailer
(The distance from the foremost part of the loading area behind the cab to the rear of the trailer must not exceed 16.4 metres and this distance - less the distance between the vehicle and trailer - must not exceed 15.65 metres (this is the maximum length of the load carrying space).
The registration of new road trains with a load space length exceeding 15.65 metres was precluded under EU directive 96/53 with effect from 1 June 1998. The use of pre 1 June 1998 road trains with a load space length exceeding 15.65 metres was prohibited from 31 December 2006.)
18.75 metres
Road-Train: Two trailers
(Vehicle drawing more than one trailer is limited to 9.2 metres.)
  25.9 metres

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Other Considerations
Account must be taken of any part of the vehicle, including any permanent receptacle strong enough for repeated use, and fittings on or attached to the vehicle, with the following exceptions;

** The regulations define 'removable superstructure and standardised freight items such as containers' as being included in the vehicle dimensions regardless of whether or not they are empty. (Directive 96/53/EC Annex 1 1.4.)

Overall Width of Vehicle
Regulation 8 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 The overall width of a vehicle specified below shall not exceed :-

Motor vehicles


Other Trailers

Refrigerated vehicles are specially designed for the carriage of goods at low temperature with sidewalls, including insulation, at least 45 mm thick.This regulation deals only with the actual width of a vehicle not the load. Items such as mirrors are not included when measuring the overall width of a vehicle.

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Overall Height of Vehicle
Regulation 9 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 A bus shall not exceed 4.57 metres (15' 0") overall height. No other type of vehicle is restricted.

Height Plates
Regulation 10 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 - If the overall travelling height of a motor vehicle or its trailer, including load, exceeds 3 metres (9 foot 10 inches) (4 metres if an EC registered vehicle on an international journey) a notice clearly indicating the height in feet and inches (in characters at least 40 millimetres tall) must be displayed in the cab so that it can be clearly read by the driver, indicating :-

Height Plate Exemptions

Height Warning Devices
Regulations 10A and 10B Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 - A warning device, which gives a visible warning to the driver if a set height is exceeded, is required on the motor vehicle if high level equipment which exceeds 3 metre when extended (4 metre if an EC registered vehicle on an international journey) is fitted to a motor vehicle 1st used on/after 1/4/93 or a trailer manufactured on/after 1/4/93.

Exceptions include:

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Turning Circle
Articulated vehicles with an overall length exceeding 15.5 metres; articulated vehicles with an overall length of 15.5 metres or less where both the tractor and semi-trailer were first used after 31 May 1998 and all goods vehicles defined as heavy motor cars (see definitions page) first used after 31 May 1998 must be able to turn within concentric circles with radii of 12.5 metres and 5.3 metres.
A concession is allowed for car transporters so that any protrusion of the forepeak (for instance any part of the trailer forward of the kingpin) will be ignored.

The following vehicles are exempt;

Vehicles first used from 1 June 1998 which are fitted with a lift axle must now meet the turning circle requirements both with and without all the wheels in contact with the ground.

An articulated vehicle is deemed to meet the turning circle requirement if the distance from the kingpin (or front kingpin) to the centre line of the non-steering bogie does not exceed 8.135 metres for a 2.55 metre wide vehicle.

Maximum permitted overhang of the body beyond the wheelbase for cars and heavy motor cars is equal to either 60 per cent of the wheelbase or the maximum distance the rear of the vehicle may swing out when pulling away from a stationary position on a 12.5 metre radius is 0.8 metres or l metre for lift axles in an unladen condition.
In the case of a two-axled vehicle, or a three-axled vehicle with only one non-steering axle, the overhang is measured from the centre line of the rear axle.
In the case of a three-axled or four-axled vehicle with two non-steering axles, overhang is measured from a point 110 millimetres to the rear of a point midway between the centres of the two rearmost axles. The wheelbase is measured from the centre of the front axle to the point from which overhang is measured.

Case law has indicated that a demountable body or container which can be lifted on and off a vehicle is not a load but part of the vehicle and has to be included when calculating the vehicle's overhang.

Works trucks and certain specialised local authority vehicles are exempt as are tipper vehicles if the overhang does not exceed 1.15 metres. The overhang for a motor tractor must not exceed 1.83 metres.

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