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Van Weight Limits Explained

Posted on by Whitgift Hire Team

Hiring a van can be a lot different to hiring a car in one key regard: weight limits. You may not realise it off the cusp, but it is absolutely essential that you appropriately load the vehicle. Loading it in a dangerous fashion can cause some serious upset, and in this month’s article we’ll be explaining how you should go about loading your van and the weight limits you must stick to as well.

Gross Vehicle Weight

As the weight limit for a van will change from vehicle to vehicle, there is no definite answer to how much weight your van can take. Fortunately, on the inside of every van the gross vehicle weight (GMV) is clearly labelled. You will be able to find it on the vehicle identification number (VIN).

The GMV accounts for the total weight your van can legally hold, and includes the combined weight of the vehicle, fuel, the driver and any passengers as well as the load and anything else the van may be carrying. A weighbridge can be extremely useful for those trying to find out if their van is within limits; find your local weighbridge.

The weight limit states the maximum weight your van can handle before the weight affects performance and safety. If you overload the vehicle and endanger yourself and other road users, you may be subject to harsh fines.


When you hire a van, responsibility for its care rests with you. As overloading a van can damage it, it is up to you to ensure it is kept within limits. An overloaded van will have trouble with stability, handling, braking, and there will be great strain placed on the tyres, too. Therefore, penalties are in place to keep van users from surpassing these limits.

Fixed fines can be handed out to van drivers who exceed the weight limit of their vehicle. These can vary between £100 and £300 depending on how overloaded the van is. Exceeding the GMV could effectively amount to charges of dangerous driving, and drivers who exceed the GMV by more than 30% will face a court summons, too.

Overhanging Loads

If you’re going to load your van on the outside, there are some other important things that you will need to consider in addition to weight. These restrictions are in place to keep you and other road users safe, so they must be adhered to. While there are no restrictions on overhanging loads not exceeding 1 metre on top of the vehicle, for larger items there are. They include:

  • Clearly visible markers attached to the ends and sides of rear projecting loads between 1 and 2 metres
  • Marker boards on loads between 2 and 3.05 metres projecting rearwards and an attendant for loads projecting forwards
  • An attendant and marker boards for loads exceeding 3.05 metres whether they project forwards or rearwards

You will also need to notify the police if you will be loading your van with overhanging items exceeding 3.05 metres at least two days before setting out. You will need to detail the time, date, route, and the length of the vehicle and its loads.

If you overhang loads from the side of your van, slightly different regulations are in place. These include:

  • Two days notice to police (as above) as well as clear marker boards on the front and rear of loads exceeding 305mm and additional lighting in poor visibility
  • As above for loads between 2.9 metres and 3.5 metres in overall width
  • The additional presence of an attendant for loads between 3.5 metres and 4.3 metres in overall width

Preventing Overloading and Load-Related Problems

The easiest way to prevent overloading is to ensure that you are fully aware of your van’s GMV. Bear this in mind when you’re loading the vehicle and take care not to strain it. Even though your van may be within weight limits, it is equally important to ensure the load is evenly distributed and secured. If you fail to do this, you may overload a given axle in your van, making it unsafe to drive.Whitgift Hire

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Whitgift Hire are second to none when it comes to van, car, and lorry hire throughout London and the South East of England. We have a fleet of over 400 well-maintained vehicles available for hire that cater to any requirement you may have across commercial and domestic fields.

We are fully certified and accredited and offer a comprehensive breakdown cover for hires to ensure that when you hire from us you’re always in the safest hands. To discuss hiring a vehicle from Whitgift Hire, contact our friendly team today!

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