Moving and Packing Tips

Van Weight Limits and Laws

Overloading a van can lead to substantial expenses in damaged parts and/or fines. You need to be well aware of the capabilities of your vehicle and your own. Keep close attention to the amount of weight you are putting on your van and see if it corresponds with its loading capacity.

Table of Contents:

Why are Weight Limits Mandatory

  • For your own safety. – The safety of other people on the road, as well, plus that of your passengers.
  • To keep your van in one piece. – Overloading a van can lead to damaged axles. Blown tyres. Curved wheels, broken shock absorbers, ceilings and all bunch of expensive parts. (Which BTW, you will have to pay for if the van is rented!)
  • To provide you with consistent performance – If you are neglecting the loading weight limits, it will completely ruin the performance of the van. One of the things you will notice first is the fuel consumption being way above the enlisted figures from the manufacturer. You will also have a bad ride, thanks to the stretched springs and shock absorbers. The van won’t be able to reach the speeds it is supposed to, including the maximum speed it says it can. Worst of all, with every kilogram above the weight restriction, your stopping distance is increased. This means that you may not be able to stop on time, in case of an emergency.
  • To keep the roads in good condition. – Overweight vehicles can cause potholes and swerves on the asphalt.

Weight Restrictions for Moving Vans

Depending on the class of van that you are using for your move, you can load different amounts of luggage in them. The van capacity is different for each vehicle. However, for your convenience, we have compiled information on the most popular vehicles in the industry. Please note that you are still obliged to check with the VIN number of your exact van, just to make sure.

Transit Van GVW – Anywhere from around 2.6T to 3.5T

For FORD Transit vans the code behind the model is actually a hint. Transit 300, for example, will have a G.V.W of 3 tons. Once again, due to different suspension setups and motors, you need to check the manual, because some Transit 300 vans have an actual G.V.W of 2.6 tons.

Luton vans have similar gross vehicle weight restrictions. The bonus of getting a Luton van as a relocation vehicle is that the cargo area is more spacious and you can fit bulkier items, like furniture or appliances.

For both types of vans, having an extra axle will help to carry more weight.

To calculate your van’s capacity for loading, you will need to take the kerb weight out of the maximum G.V.W. That will leave you with a rough estimate on how much cargo you can load. Remember to note your own weight, as well.

Check the VIN number on the vehicle. It should give you information on weight limits for the specific make and model. It might include the loading capacity, as well.

What is GVW

G.V.W stands for Gross Vehicle Weight. Also called, design gross weight, laden weight or gross vehicle weight. It is the combined weight of the entire vehicle on the road, meaning that it consists of a couple of different weights put together.

Weights forming the G.V.W:

  • Vehicle (kerb weight)
  • Fuel
  • Cargo
  • Passenger
*Kerb weight is the weight of the vehicle, only.

Authorities will pay attention to the GVW and nothing else.

While reading the laws around GVW you will come across a different term, load weight. Don’t get confused with it. The load weight is only the weight of your cargo and if you are pulled over, it will not be as important. Also, the term “unladen weight” refers to the weight of your vehicle without any load.

So, when your removals company offers a ride for you in the van. Think about it. Are they risking a fine, are they risking your wellbeing?

Axle Weight and Axle Weight Restrictions

Keep in mind, that it’s not just the weight you are loading, the placement is a huge factor, as well.

Imagine that you have calculated everything right and on paper, you should not exceed the laden weight. However, if you load all of the items incorrectly, there is a huge chance of overloading a single axle.

Both axles of your van should carry almost even amounts. Placing the load on a single axle can result in tyre popping, which is extremely dangerous. Also, you may damage the underskirt of the van while crossing a speed bump. This may result in an oil leak, which would affect other drivers on the road, not just you.

Because of those facts, axle loading is also considered by authorities. Make sure that you distribute the load evenly between both axles. The front of the van, already carries the weight of you, the cabin, and the engine. Right behind the cabin is the perfect place for heavier boxes and lighter boxes should be placed closer to the tail of the van.

If your Luton van has two axles on the back end it is a bit easier to find the balance between the two. Having three axles means that this vehicle can carry bigger loads. In reality, such vehicles are rarely needed for moving. You would be way better off with two standard vans.

Consequences of Breaking Weight Restrictions on the Road

If the technical difficulties, dangers, and potential damage to the vehicle weren’t enough of a reason to be careful and thorough, remember that you might also find yourself in hot water with the law.

Here a couple of actions that officers can take against your felony:

  • Fine – If you have a clean driving record, most likely you will get away with a fine. The amount you will have to pay is between £100 – £300, but it “heavily” depends on the type of vehicle and how much weight you have loaded.
  • On the spot fine – If you fail to provide the officer with an address to which the fine should be sent you are most likely getting fined on the spot. In this case, the fines are bigger £500 and above. Again, depending on the type of vehicle and the load.
  • Penalty points – For every offence of the law, while on the road you get penalty points added to your driving license. You get a “fresh start” every three years.
  • Revoke you of your driving licence – Drivers with a lot of penalty points may lose their licences over a single trip with a “slightly” overloaded van. Don’t take any chances.
  • Clamped in place – You may be asked by the officer to simply unload some of the items. If you are not able to or you refuse to unload items from the van, the officer can install a wheel clamp on the van until you unload some weight. This will most likely result in a fine, as well, especially if you simply refuse to follow orders.
For new drivers, the amount of penalty points you can have before your license getting withdrawn is six. Keep in mind that a simple speed violation will cost you £100 and will score you three penalty points.

How to Avoid a Fine for Over Loading

You will just have to keep track of everything and calculate the weight while loading. Here are a couple of tips that can help you determine your GVW before setting off on the road.

The actual weight of the vehicle should be enlisted on a metal plate, probably on the inner side of the drivers’ door. You can also check that information via the VIN number of the vehicle. If the drivers manual is in the cabin, give it a quick check, it contains every bit of information you might need about the van. In one of these places, you should also find the capacity of the fuel tank. Which you will need in order to calculate the weight of your fuel.

The weight of your passengers, or should I say, passenger, can easily be estimated, or simply ask for it.

Now, for the most tricky part – looking over the weight of your cargo. This can be mastered in time, the eyes of professional movers are like digital scales. They can give pretty accurate estimations simply by looking at items. However, if you are planning on doing your move alone you will have to either take your chances or scale every single item prior to loading it on the van.

Lucky for you, there is one more option. Look around for local weighbridges. If you haven’t been on one, the process is straight forward. You drive on top of a small bridge, which is actually a scale, that will give you the exact weight – G.V.W to be precise. This way you won’t have to worry about overloading the van.


  • Don’t risk your health and the life of others, by overloading your vehicle.
  • Rent a van only if you have the right license and check which is the right model for the job, depending on your move.
  • Considering all the dangers and potential problems, hiring a moving team can often prove a lot cheaper than hiring a van and doing the job yourself.

We hope you found this information useful. Feel free to share with us your personal experiences, dealing with the law around GVW.

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