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Weights and dimensions

Heavy goods vehicles transporting goods in Europe, buses and coaches, must comply with certain rules on weights and dimensions for road safety reasons and to avoid damages to roads, bridges and tunnels. Directive 96/53/EC sets maximum common measures, ensuring that Member States cannot restrict the circulation of vehicles which comply with these limits from performing international transport operations within their territories. To avoid that national operators benefit from undue advantages over their competitors from other Member States when performing national transport, they are bound to comply with the standards set for international transport.

By avoiding obstacles at borders and ensuring that no hauliers are exposed to unfair competition, this directive aims to facilitate the internal market and to ensure free movement of goods in Europe. For national transport however, the Directive foresees a number of derogations and Member States can decide to apply standards that deviate from the Directive for transport within their own borders, for instance for the transport of large loads such as forestry goods or longer combination of vehicles in Nordic countries.

These rules complement the requirements for type-approval of commercial vehicles laid out in Directive 97/27/EC. This directive (under responsibility of DG Enterprise) sets the framework for putting vehicles such as light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles, buses and trailers on the market, and applies only to new vehicles, whereas Directive 96/53/EC sets out rules for the circulation of all commercial vehicles, the new ones like the others.

The current provisions on weight and dimensions date back in part to the 1980's. As announced in the White Paper on Transport, the Commission intends to review them to adapt the standards to technical progress. In particular, these rules need to be adapted to facilitate the introduction of improved aerodynamic of vehicles which limit CO2 emissions and energy use, and to better reflect new intermodal transport standards. The Commission is currently carrying out the necessary technical and economic analysis.

Related documents


Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL amending Directive 96/53/EC of 25 July 1996 laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic pdf - 95 KB [95 KB]  

Council Directive 96/53/EC of 25 July 1996 laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorized dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorized weights in international traffic

Directive 97/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 July 1997 relating to the masses and dimensions of certain categories of motor vehicles and their trailers and amending Directive 70/156/EEC

Commission Staff Working Document of 27.11.2006 on the continuous carriage of 45' containers in national road transport pdf - 116 KB [116 KB]

Longer and Heavier Vehicles

Workshop (24 June 2009)

Presented reports:

Derogations foreseen by the legislation

Commission clarifies existing rules on cross-border use of longer trucks [IP/12/611] български (bg)czech (cs)dansk (da)Deutsch (de)eesti (et)ελληνικά (el)español (es)Français (fr)Gaeilge (ga)italiano (it)latviešu (lv)lietuvių (lt)magyar (hu)Malti (mt)Nederlands (nl)polski (pl)português (pt)română (ro)slovenčina (sk)slovenščina (sl)suomi (fi)svenska (sv)

Letter from Vice President Siim Kallas on longer vehicles  pdf - 276 KB [276 KB]