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International Forwarding Association Blog » Specialized transportation » EU Guidelines on the Carriage of Oversized Cargo
EU Guidelines on the Carriage of Oversized Cargo

EU Guidelines on the Carriage of Oversized Cargo

EU guidelines specify the maximum dimensions and weights when shipping abnormal loads. Cargo that exceeds the specified limits requires special permits which are issued by national or regional authorities.

The procedures and regulations regarding the issuance of permits vary by country, including details such as authorized speeds, time frames, and vehicle escorts. Nevertheless, the guidelines include useful recommendations on vehicle information, transport corridors, and more.

specialized transportation

EU Best Practice Guidelines

The best practice guidelines have been developed and released by the Directorate-General for Energy and Transport of the European Commission. There contain provisions regarding escorts, lighting and marking of load and vehicles, transport corridors for oversized cargo, and vehicle information.


Regarding vehicle information, the guidelines recommend a single document referred to as a SERT document (Special European Registration Trucks/Trailers), offering the needed technical information to permit granting authorities. Specifications contained in the document include design of loading platform, overhand rear, width, and centre of kingpin.

Transport Corridors

The provision on abnormal road transport corridors recommends the creation of trans-European corridors, including container terminals, harbors, roads to industrial sites, highways, and e-ways. Information regarding corridors should be made available to tunnel, bridge, and road authorities, permit granting authorities, police, hauliers, and other interested parties.

Lighting and Marking

When it comes to lighting and marking of loads and vehicles, the goal is to avoid accidents and improve traffic safety. The guidelines recommend lighting and marking for items such as (un)laden length and wide loads. For wide loads, for example, the warning sign is a red/yellow or red/white diagonal.


Escorting abnormal transport is required by the majority of EU Member States. Escort has several functions, including facilitating progress, warning vehicle drivers of potential dangers, and directing traffic at roundabouts, bridges, and traffic junctions. Oversized cargo can be divided into two categories based on width, length, and type of road. Vehicles with a width of over 4 m and length of over 50 m require type B escort on motorways. This can be either a police escort and one escort vehicle or two escort vehicles.

The guidelines also outline recommendations for self-propelled machinery such as self-propelled modular trailers and mobile cranes. For issuing abnormal weight transport limits, the Expert Group of the Directorate-General offers guidance on total width and weight, axle load, and counterweights.

Other Regulations

Logistics companies involved in specialized transportation and using heavy-duty vehicles are subject to Directive 96/53/EC outlining maximum authorized weights and dimensions. Under the directive, special permits are required for vehicle combinations and vehicles that fail to meet the maximum dimension requirements. The plate indicating dimensions must include details such as:

  • Width of semi-trailer, trailer, or motor vehicle
  • Length of semi-trailer, trailer, or motor vehicle
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Name of the manufacturer
  • Measurement data for the length of a combination of vehicles

The length of vehicle combinations refers to the total length of the semi-trailer or trailer and the motor vehicle.

All states have been asked to adopt administrative provisions, regulations, and laws in line with the directive as of September 1997.