What you should know before transporting an abnormal load


When carrying an abnormal load, you also carry a responsibility. According to the UK government website, transporters are required to follow protocol when shipping an abnormal load, which includes giving warning to police, highway authorities and bridge and structure owners such as Network Rail – some even up to ten weeks before the scheduled date. We have put together a few tips and tricks to keep in mind before transporting an abnormal load. After all, you don’t want to be carrying a heavyweight load as well as a hefty fine.


Notify authorities

As aforementioned, it is required that you notify the appropriate authorities before you start your journey. Be careful, because some loads require notification weeks in advance – in some cases, it can be up to 10 weeks beforehand. Should you not complete these requirements before the date of transportation, you can be fined up to £220. Generally, police have to be notified at least 24 hours before the journey takes place, however, the timeframe of notice may change depending on the abnormal load being carried.

Those who are moving loads even short distances must comply with these rules. For example, farmers that are moving ‘abnormal’ loads at the time of harvest. If your vehicle is wider than 3m wide and is travelling on roads for less than five miles, or at a 40mph speed limit or less.


Be aware of restrictions

 Some areas may have stricter regulations and zones than others. Make sure you are aware of this, whether it is your destination or you are passing through. London is a prime example of this.

As you can imagine, moving an abnormal load through built-up areas such as London is much more difficult than usual. Between the hours of 0600 and 1000, and 1530 and 2000 hours Monday to Friday, abnormal loads are banned from entering most of London. During the weekend, abnormal loads are also banned between 1030 and 2000 hours. Furthermore, trucks may face difficulty passing through some areas of London, such as the Low Emission Zones in Central London. Alternative routes may have to be planned.

Furthermore, some abnormal loads (above the size and weight requirement) are banned

within a three-mile radius of Charing Cross Station between the hours of 0600 and 2000 Monday to Friday, and between 1030 and 2000 during weekends and bank holidays.


Registering your trailer

If you’re transporting an abnormal load to another country outside of the UK, there are a few other things you need to be aware of. If your trailer is over 3,500kg, or it is a commercial trailer over 750kg, you must register your trailer before you can drive it through Europe.

To notify your abnormal load under any circumstance, your load must be:

  • a weight of more than 44,000kg
  • an axle load of more than 10,000kg for a single non-driving axle and 11,500kg for a single driving axle
  • a width of more than 2.9 metres
  • a rigid length of more than 18.65 metres

When transporting abroad, further actions may be required, such as obtaining a keeper’s certificate. One last thing to remember: different countries may have different abnormal loads requirements, so make sure you find out your specific countries as opposed to a general search, e.g. Europe as a whole.

If you are unsure whether your load requires notification to authorities, you can find more information on Gov.UK.