Registering a Forklift for Road Use

How To Register a Forklift For Road Use


Taking a forklift out on the roads is not as straightforward as many people think. There are a number of important things to take into account when hitting the public highway. Before you register your forklift with the DVLA, here’s an overview of what you need to know to help you stay on the right side of the law.


What is a ‘public road’?


A public road is defined by UK case law as a place ‘where it is natural to suppose that the public may be found’. This rather broad definition includes places such as laybys, car parks, loading bays and private roads that run through industrial or trading estates.

If you are intending to drive a forklift for more than 1,000 yards on a public road, it must be in compliance with the stipulations laid out in the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986.

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Excise License

According to the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act (VERA) 1994, a forklift truck weighing less than 3,500kg GVM is classed as a works truck, and, as such, it must be licensed if it is going to be driven for more than 1,000 yards on public roads.


MOT certificate

If the forklift is over three years old, it must have a valid MOT certificate. As with any vehicle, the forklift must be in a safe, roadworthy condition before it can be driven on a public road.

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In order for a forklift truck to be driven on a public road, it must have third party liability insurance as a minimum requirement. It may also be advisable to take out a more comprehensive cover to reflect the considerable replacement value of the vehicle.





Your forklift must be correctly lit in order for it to be legally taken onto a public road during the hours of darkness. The type of lighting required is dictated by the maximum speed of the forklift as follows:

• All speeds – front and rear lamps, rear retro-reflector, warning beacon (advised)

• Over 15mph – as above, along with a headlamp with dipped beam facility, hazard warning signal and direction indicator

• Over 25mph – as above, along with rear fog and stop lamps and main beam headlamp

• Over 40mph – as above, along with running lamp or device for dim-dip, unless the forklift is in compliance with EU requirements.


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Number plates


The vehicle must be registered with the DVLA. It must also carry correct number plates, which must be displayed either on the rear of the vehicle or on each side.




The driver of the vehicle must hold the appropriate valid driving license for their age and must be properly trained in the operation of the forklift. Provisional license holders are not permitted to drive a forklift truck on a public road.



Under current UK laws, a fork lift truck must fulfil all the above criteria in order for it to be driven legally on a public road. Anyone driving a forklift that does not meet the requirements outlined above, who is subsequently stopped by the police, risks being prosecuted. Illegally driven vehicles may also be seized.


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