Parking regulations for commercial vehicles

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As a trader, you probably use a van on a regular basis to make sure you can move equipment and materials to customers’ homes.

But as you’ll know, it can be difficult finding somewhere to park near their properties. Get it wrong and you risk having to fork out for parking fines.

It’s worth asking customers about available parking before visiting them. If you can use their driveway or land, it’s unlikely to cause problems as you’ll be on their private property.

But if not, we’ve looked at what you’ll need to consider before parking up – including some surprising rules for parking at night.

Where you can and can’t legally park

The good news is that, in most cases, you can park your van as you would park a car. You just need to make sure you park legally, don’t block traffic and don’t cause a danger to pedestrians or other road users.

The Highway Code says where possible vehicles should park:

  • in off-street parking areas
  • in parking bays on the road marked out with white lines

If you need to park on the roadside, you can, but you need to follow some extra rules including:

  • facing the same direction as traffic
  • stopping as close as possible to the side of the road
  • not stopping too close to a vehicle with a Blue Badge.

When stopping on the roadside you must also switch off the engine, headlights and fog lights, apply the handbrake, ensure you don’t hit anyone when you open your door, and lock the vehicle when you leave it.

But the rules say you must not park or wait on:

  • the carriageway, an emergency area or a hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency
  • double yellow lines at any time
  • single yellow lines during the times shown on any signs
  • school entrance markings or anywhere with signs that say you can’t (eg. red routes)
  • a pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zigzag lines
  • spaces reserved for specific users, such as Blue Badge holders, residents or motorcycles (unless you’re entitled to)
  • an urban clearway within its hours of operation, except to pick up or set down passengers
  • a road marked with double white lines, even when a broken white line is on your side of the road, except to pick up or set down passengers, or to load or unload goods
  • a tram or cycle lane during its period of operation
  • a cycle track
  • a dangerous place or where it blocks the road 
  • on the pavement in London, and you shouldn’t do this elsewhere unless signs permit it
  • in areas such as taxi bays and cycle lanes.

It also warns drivers not to park in areas such as opposite a junction, near a school entrance or in front of the entrance to someone’s home. You can read the full list of places you shouldn’t park on the website.

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Large goods vehicles

If you have to use a large commercial vehicle which has a maximum loaded weight of more than 7.5 tonnes (including any trailer), you must not park it on a verge, pavement or any land between carriageways, unless you have police permission.

The only exception to this rule is if you’re loading and unloading, as long as someone stays with your vehicle at all times.

Loading and unloading

Don’t load or unload your equipment, materials or goods where there are yellow markings on the kerb and signs saying restrictions are in place.

On red routes, look out for specially marked and signposted bays showing when and where loading and unloading is permitted.

Councils and private estates might have their own rules, so keep an eye out for signs. For example, you may be able to park along some roads for short periods of time just to load or unload goods. These rules do not nullify the highway code, they are in addition to it.

Parking vans at night

Did you know there are different rules for parking at night, especially if you have a larger van? 

If you park any vehicle on a road at night, you have to face same direction as the flow of traffic, unless you’re in a marked parking space. 

And if the speed limit of that road is more than 30mph, you must have your parking lights both at the roadside and in a lay-by.

If your vehicle is a larger van with a maximum loaded weight of more than 2.5 tonnes (e.g. a Ford Transit), you have to display parking lights if you leave it on any road overnight, regardless of the speed limit.

If your van is lighter than that, you don’t need parking lights if the van is:

  • at least 10 metres (32 feet) away from any junction, close to the kerb and facing in the direction of the traffic flow
  • in a recognised parking place or lay-by.

Parking in fog

The highway code says that you should avoid parking on the road in fog. If it is unavoidable, for instance in an emergency, you should leave your sidelights or parking lights on.

Parking on hills

If you have to park on a hill you must:

  • park as close to the kerb as you can 
  • apply the handbrake firmly
  • use ‘park’ if your car has an automatic gearbox.
  • if you are facing uphill: select a forward gear and turn your steering wheel away from the kerb
  • if you are facing downhill: put your car in reverse and turn your steering wheel towards the kerb

Parking your van near your own home

If you keep your work van at your own home, tell your insurer and check you’re covered.

If it’s a company van, make sure the firm is happy for you to keep it offsite and check what the company policy says.

Make sure you know about any parking restrictions that apply on your road or estate. There might also be reserved areas and active prohibition times to keep note of.

Some permit parking might only be for cars, or could only apply if you’re the registered owner. Some councils will have restrictions on height, length and unladen weight e.g

Even if you’re using your own driveway, your home could have a clause in the deeds to prevent you parking a van there, although luckily this is rare.

Parking vans in residential areas can cause problems with neighbours, even when you’re not legally doing anything wrong. To avoid disputes, try not to park where your van could block light getting into people’s homes, or where you might restrict their view when they’re pulling in and out of their driveway.

What to do if you get a parking fine or ticket

Finding a parking ticket stuck to your car windscreen isn't nice. This Which? guide explains your rights, how to contest a parking ticket and avoid getting more.