Where to find a public weighbridge, how to operate one, and how to avoid overloading.

Where to find a public weighbridge

List of public weighbridges in Oxfordshire (pdf format, 76Kb)

How to operate a weighbridge

To operate a public weighbridge, you need a certificate of competence issued by our Chief Inspector of Weights and Measures. A test must be passed before the certificate
is granted.

To be issued with this certificate, you must have sufficient knowledge for the proper performance of your duties. See regulations 18, 19 and 20 of the Weights and Measures Act 1985.

No fee is required when applying for this certificate.

We will make an appointment to assess the operator for competence at a mutually agreeable time.

How to apply

Apply online.

If you do not wish to apply online, please contact us.

Who to contact

Please contact us if you have any problems

  • prior to your application
  • after you have applied
  • if you have not heard from us within a reasonable time with why your application failed or wish to appeal the decision

If your application is refused, you may appeal to the Regulatory Delivery.

Overloading and the law

The Road Traffic Act 1998 makes it an offence to drive or to use on a public road an overloaded vehicle, ie a vehicle which exceeds its maximum plated weight for gross, axle(s) or train weight.

Who can weigh vehicles and when

The Police, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and officers from local authority Trading Standards Services all carry out regular weight checks on vehicles. The checks may take place at any time of day or night, including weekends.

Why the overloading provisions of the road traffic act are enforced

  • Vehicles that are overloaded can cause excessive wear and damage to roads, bridges etc.
  • Serious overloading can affect safety by making the vehicle less stable, causing braking difficulties and increasing braking distances.
  • Overloading of vehicles can create an unfair trading advantage.
  • The overloading of a vehicle can invalidate insurance cover.

What happens at a check

An officer carrying out weight checks who thinks you may be overloaded can direct you to the nearest suitable and available weighbridge to be weighed.

At the weighbridge an officer will instruct you on how to weigh and you will be issued with a weight certificate. This certificate shows the weight of the vehicle and if correct, exempts the vehicle from being check-weighed again with the same load on the same journey.

The driver, all passengers and fuel is included in all weighings as all contribute to the weight the vehicle transmits to the road.

What happens if your vehicle is found to be overweight

If your vehicle is found to be overweight it may be prohibited from continuing its journey until any excess load has been redistributed or removed as necessary. The responsibility for this rests solely with the driver of the vehicle.

In some circumstances a direction notice may be issued by an officer, which permits the vehicle to be moved to a nearby place where the excess may be removed safely.

With the exception of a direction notice it is a serious offence to move a vehicle whilst a prohibition notice is in force. A prohibition notice must be removed by an officer before the vehicle is able to continue its journey.

Who is liable for overloading

The following people can commit offences in connection with the overloading of vehicles:

  • driver
  • vehicle owner
  • vehicle operator

What the penalties are for overloading

  • If your vehicle is found to be overloaded you may be prosecuted for which there is an unlimited maximum fine.
  • Drivers of dangerously overloaded vehicles may also be liable to penalty points on their licence.
  • If you refuse to be weighed or obstruct an officer, you may also commit an offence under the Road Traffic Act and be liable to a maximum fine of £5,000.

How you can find out the permitted weight of your vehicle

The maximum permitted gross and axle weights of your vehicle can be found listed on 'plates', which must be fitted to all vehicles and certain trailers.

These will either be a manufacturer's plate or a Department of Transport plate and are usually located either in the cabin or under the bonnet of vehicles and on the chassis of trailers. The weights are given in metric units of kilograms (kg).

What you can do to avoid overloading


The plated weights for your vehicle. Not forgetting the individual axle weights and your vehicles unladen weight.


Your load evenly to avoid axle overloads and after off-loading part of a load remember to check the distribution of the remaining load.


Your local public weighbridges so that you can use the one nearest to you, to check weigh your load. 


Your vehicle when loaded.

Contact us to report a suspected overloaded vehicle