sign with forklift traffic written on it

Perhaps you’ve used a forklift truck for offloading something at the side of the road or you’ve needed to nip across the street in order to pick up a load at the other side. No matter what the reason or how long you were on the road for, you must have the appropriate registration, tax or insurance in place to operate the forklift on a public road, otherwise you could be committing an offence.

So, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you get to grips with the current legislation and laws regarding the use of forklifts on public roads, so that you can avoid any issues or future fines.

What requirements are needed?

If you plan on operating a forklift truck on a public road, then you’ll need to adhere to certain  requirements:

  • The forklift must be registered with the DVLA.
  • It must be taxed and insured for road use.
  • Registration plates must be displayed on the forklift.

These are the rules that apply to all mechanically-propelled vehicles that are being used or kept on public roads,  in accordance with the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.

Of course, as the operator of the forklift, you must have:

  • A full UK driving license.
  • Passed a forklift operator course.

Keep in mind, certain age restrictions will apply to the operator of the forklift depending on the different weights of the truck when it’s fully laden. Be careful not to assign an operator to a forklift who is technically underage.

The forklift will also need to be fitted with appropriate lighting for use on a public road. For example, if the truck is going to be travelling at under 25 mph then it will need to have an amber beacon that lights up.

What if it’s only being used for a short distance?

It’s wrong to assume that you won’t require any of the above if you’re only travelling a short distance, or you’re simply crossing a road on a regular basis.

When travelling less than 1000 yards, it not be classed as a work truck and therefore will only require more standard licensing and registration, based on a few criteria, including:

  • The weight of the forklift.
  • How it is propelled.

If the total weight of the truck, which includes its load, exceeds 3500kg, then it will be classed as an HGV. If it comes at a weight under 3500kg, it will be classed as a light goods vehicle.

Also, you need to make sure that it complies with the Road Vehicles Regulations, which may require you to apply certain modifications to the truck. If you’re operating an electric-powered forklift then it will need to be taxed under the electric vehicle tax.

What’s required for longer distances?

If you’re going to be travelling less than 1000 yards in one go, your forklift will still need to be licensed and registered.

When it’s being used on public roads for travelling less than 1000 yards between work sites, working on roadworks, or delivering goods between private premises, then it will be classed as a work truck. It will also be excused from the Road Vehicles Regulations for any distance below 1000 yards.

How to register a forklift truck

To register your forklift with the DVLA, you need to ask for a V55/5 form online, which will then be sent to you via the post with an information pack. In order to complete the form, you’ll need proof of insurance, your test certificate, a copy of your driving license, a NOVA form and a number of other documents, which will be outlined on the form.

Keep in mind that what you need to do may change depending on the classification of your forklift, so it’s always best to check with the DVLA first before you start requesting and filling out any documentation.