Road opening licence (excavation in the highway)

Licence must be obtained before commencing work.

It is an offence to excavate the highway without lawful consent or authority

Any private contractors who want to carry out roadwork excavations in the highway must apply for, and be granted, a licence before work starts.

The ‘highway’ includes carriageway, footway and verge. Carrying out such work without a licence is an offence and may result in prosecution. Those granted a Road Opening Licence become "undertakers" (for the purposes of  New Roads and Streetworks Act -NRSWA), and because of that take on responsibility for carrying out the duties and responsibilities imposed by the Act and its associated regulations and Codes of Practice

Licences are issued for such works as sewer connections, trial holes and boundary wall foundations etc.

How to apply

Applying for a Section 50 licence to dig up and place apparatus on a public road.

Notification procedures for different types of work

Major Works - which require a road closure or have a planned duration of 11 working days or more

Standard Works - that have a planned duration of 10 working days or less

Minor Works - that have a planned duration of three working days or less

These are the required notice periods and the Street Authority may need more time to process the application in certain circumstances, for instance for works that may have a significant impact on traffic flow on strategic routes or lead to lengthy road closures.  However, shorter periods of notification may also be possible but must be agreed by Oxfordshire County Council in conjunction with the Statutory Undertakers likely to be affected.  

Please contact for guidance.

Traffic signals

In cases when the use of traffic signals is required as part of the work a separate Temporary Traffic Signal Application (Form S50-T) (pdf format, 136Kb) must also be received together with the main application (Form N1).

It is the responsibility of the Applicant to inform the Street Authority of the completion of the reinstatement by the end of the following working day, stating whether the reinstatement is interim or permanent. An interim reinstatement must be made permanent within six months. The interim reinstatement must be maintained until made permanent. It is in the interest of the Applicant to ensure that Notification of completion of work (Form -R) (pdf format, 28Kb) is sent as soon as possible.  The end guarantee period is set from the date Form R is received for the permanent reinstatement. Back dated registrations are not permitted under the NRSWA Act 1999.

All completed forms and notifications need to be sent to

During the works

The Applicant must permit the Street Authority to monitor his or his contractors performance throughout the following stages of street works which are :

  • signing, guarding and excavation
  • signing, guarding and reinstatement
  • immediately after permanent reinstatement
  • between six and nine months after permanent reinstatement and during the one month preceding the end of the guarantee period.

Guarantee of works

The guarantee period begins from the date the Street Authority is notified (by Form-R) of the permanent reinstatement and will last for two years for reinstatements up to 1.5m deep and three years for deeper ones. It is therefore important to notify the Street Authority as soon as the works have been completed.

Specification for reinstating the highway

The highway reinstatement must be in accordance with the current NRSWA reinstatement specification.

Contact details:

List of forms