Introduction of 46 Tonne National Weight Limit for 3+3 Articulated Vehicle Combinations, including new requirements for semi-trailers operating at gross combination weights in excess of 40 tonnes

Since 1st April 2013 six axle (3+3) articulated vehicle combinations have been allowed operate at a gross combination weight of 46 tonnes.

The new provisions are contained the Road Traffic (Construction and Use of Vehicles) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 43 of 2013 ) permitting a 46 tonne national weight limit for six axle (3+3) articulated vehicle combinations.

Since 1st April 2013 owners / operators of six-axle articulated vehicle combinations have the option of operating at a gross combination weight of 46 tonnes, instead of 44 tonnes, which represents a 2 tonne increase over the pre-existing 44 tonne national limit, provided they satisfy the criteria in the Table below:

Six axle Articulated Vehicle Combinations  What is Required on or after1st April 2013?
Triaxle tractor units & triaxle semi-trailers already in service prior to 1st April 2013 Electronic Braking System (EBS) & tractor unit plated at 46 tonne
New triaxle tractor units first registered on or after 1st April 2013 Electronic Braking System (EBS) & Electronic Stability Control (ESC) & plated at 46 tonne
Triaxle semi-trailers first licensed in Ireland on or after 1st April 2013  Electronic Braking System (EBS) & Roll Stability Control (RSC)

Rigid truck and drawbar trailer combinations are not within scope of this weight limit increase. It only applies to articulated vehicle (i.e. tractor unit and semi-trailer) combinations.


Changes to the tonnes/metre Requirement

Since 1st April 2013, the “5.5 tonnes/metre requirement” has been increased to 5.75 tonnes/metre for semi-trailers operating as part of a 46 tonne combination to allow those already in service to now operate without the need for wheelbase modifications or trailer replacement. This applies to 46 tonne six axle articulated vehicle combinations only.  Vehicle owners/operators who opt to stay at the 44 tonne combination must continue to meet the original 5.5 tonnes/metre requirement.

Further information on the “tonnes/metre requirement” is available in our FAQ document(PDF) .

Changes to the requirements for semi-trailers operating at gross combination weights in excess of 40 tonnes

Since 1st April 2013, all semi-trailers operating as part of a combination of vehicles with a gross weight in excess of 40 tonnes must meet the requirements of an ‘appropriate semi-trailer’. This means that they (whether new or existing and irrespective of the number of axles fitted) must have anti-lock braking systems (ABS), a road friendly or equivalent suspension system and be fitted with an authorisation plate (i.e. a national weights & dimensions plate).

Drawbar trailers with a Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW) exceeding 3,500kg, (i.e. those towed behind rigid vehicles) cannot be considered as ‘appropriate semi-trailers’ and do not need ABS and a road friendly suspension or equivalent suspension system. Therefore they cannot operate as part of a 46 tonne combination.  However please note that all Category O3 & O4 trailers, i.e. goods trailers with Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW) exceeding 3,500kg first licensed in Ireland since 1st June 2011 require ABS.

Operational Arrangements for 46 Tonne Operation

Before owners / operators can operate at 46 tonnes, they must complete a 46 tonne Declaration of Conformity (PDF) form for their tractor unit. This declaration is not required for semi-trailers operating as part of a 46 tonne combination and furthermore it is not necessary to have semi-trailers re-plated by National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) appointed plating centres.

In the case of tractor units, the Declaration of Conformity (DOC) form must be stamped and signed by the original vehicle manufacturer or his authorised Irish distributor. This will confirm that the vehicle is technically capable and is fitted with the necessary features to operate at 46 tonnes.Vehicle owners/operators should contact the Irish distributor for their particular brand of tractor unit and supply the Vehicle Identification Number(s) (VIN) of their vehicle(s) to obtain completed 46 tonne DOC(s) for their vehicle or vehicles.

Contact details for the Irish distributors for the main tractor unit brands can be found here(PDF).

After this certification has been received can a vehicle be plated for operation at 46 tonnes. These plates are fitted by National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) appointed plating centres. A list of authorised vehicle plating centres can be obtained from the NSAI website (www.nsai.ie ) or by contacting them on 01 807 3800.

Note that goods and passenger vehicles (and their trailers) with a DGVW exceeding 3,500 kilograms must be fitted with an authorisation plate (i.e. a national weights and dimensions plate), if not already fitted with an equivalent manufacturer’s plate. This plate must be displayed at all times when the vehicle is used in a public place. Vehicles are prohibited from being used in a public place if they have been modified or altered in any way which would cause any of the information on the plate to be incorrect. However an exception is made for modified vehicles which are being taken to a place where an authorisation plate is to be fitted or changed.

The Penalty under Section 102 of the 1961 Road Traffic Act for breach of the plating Regulations (i.e. for having an incorrect or no plate fitted) would lead to a Class C fine whereby on conviction, courts can impose a fine up to €2,500, a prison sentence or both.

The penalties for breach of the prescribed national weight limits are outlined in detail on our dedicated weights and dimensions webpage.