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Taking your forklift onto public roads must be done in accordance with the current legislation.

Perhaps you think that offloading something at the side of the road or nipping across the street does not require your forklift have the appropriate registration, tax or insurance – this is not true, and you could be committing an offence without realising it. If you plan on operating a forklift truck on a public road, then you’ll need to adhere to certain requirements

forklifts on public roads

We’ve put together this short guide to the laws concerning forklifts on public roads and how you can adhere to them – helping you avoid any issues or fines in the future.

Can forklifts go on public roads?

Yes, forklifts are allowed on public roads, as long as certain requirements are adhered to.

  • If you’re planning to operate your forklift on a public road, or use it to travel along a public road, your vehicle must be registered with the DVLA, taxed and insured. The Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 specifies that all mechanically-propelled vehicles, when used or kept on public roads, must have appropriate registration and taxation, along with the display of registration plates.
  • Appropriate lighting is also needed for public roads, including an amber beacon that lights up (this is for occasions when the forklift will be travelling below 25mph). License plates will also be required, like any other road vehicle.
  • Drivers must also have passed a forklift operator course and have a full UK driving license. Depending on the different weights of the forklifts when fully laden, there may also be different age restrictions on the driver – this is worth investigating in case you assign a vehicle to a driver who is underage.

What about short distances?

Some people assume that if your forklift is travelling very short distances, or simply crossing a road on a regular basis, then you won’t require any of the above – this is not true!

  • If a forklift is travelling more than 1000 yards in one go, it will not be classed as a work truck and will require more standard licensing and registration. A forklift is taxed and licensed on a few criteria – namely, its weight and how it is propelled. Should the weight (including anything being carried) exceeds 3500kg, then it will be placed in the HGV class. If it’s under 3500kg, it will be classed as a light goods vehicle. You will also need to ensure it complies with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations – this may require modifications to your vehicle. Any electrically-propelled truck will be taxed under the electric vehicle tax.
  • If your forklift is travelling less than 1000 yards in one go, it still needs to be registered and licensed. It will fall under the category of ‘work trucks’ if it is using public roads for passing between premises/sites in distances under 1000 yards, delivering goods between private premises in distances under 1000 yards, or if it’s working on roadworks. Any distance below 1000 yards, and you may be excused from the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, meaning that fewer modifications might be needed – but the vehicle must still be insured and registered.

How can I register my forklift?

You must register your forklift via the DVLA. Complete  a V55/5 form and post back it to them – to do so will need several key pieces of documentation from yourself, including your certificate of insurance, a test certificate, a NOVA form, a copy of the operator’s driving license, and other documentation – these requirements will change depending on what your forklift is classified as, so get in touch with the DVLA to find out the full list of required documentation.

Need further assistance?

If you require further assistance with the completion of your application you can find out more via the DVLA website.

Download V55/5

We've made it easy for you to register your forklifts for the road. Download the latest application form here.