ADR Special Loads Abroad

Driving Dangerous Goods and Special Loads Abroad

The International regulations and industry-required documentation for Hauliers transporting dangerous goods and hazardous goods, special loads by road or by vehicles on ships have been stepped up, so be warned. Transport and Logistic Hauliers moving or transporting dangerous goods, hazardous goods, and special loads abroad by road must be aware of the laws, and the procedures involved in classifying such goods.

This guide only gives you an overview of the rules. It also covers how to make sure the vehicles carrying dangerous goods, special loads, and their operators are correctly certified in line with international regulations. The European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) or moving dangerous goods by road is governed by international regulations and is strictly policed.

Most European countries are signed up to ADR. Each country that complies with ADR implements specific safety measures through its own national legislation.ADR ensures that any dangerous goods transported by road can cross international borders freely if the goods, vehicles, and drivers comply with its rules. ADR has been in force since 1968 and is administered by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). and the rules are updated generally every 2 years.

Annex A Rules

Annex A sets out the requirements for classifying, packaging, labeling, and certifying dangerous goods.

Annex B Rules

Annex B however, sets out the rules for vehicles carrying dangerous goods which includes vehicle and tank specifications and other operational requirements.

ADR Drivers Rules

Generally, all ADR drivers must have an ADR training certificate, there are some exemptions for drivers carrying different load types such as;

• Small loads below the threshold limits
• Dangerous goods packed in limited quantities
• Dangerous goods packed in excepted quantities

However, all drivers and operators must always register if transporting certain types of dangerous waste.

What ADR Exemptions Apply

If you transport dangerous goods and loads that are below certain volumes or weights, many parts of ADR may not apply, or only apply in a modified form. The general exemptions are listed in chapter 1.1.3. Part 3 of Annex A to ADR. It also includes the dangerous goods list, special provisions, and exemptions related to dangerous goods packed in limited quantities.


The provisions laid down in ADR do not apply to the carriage of:
  • Fuel contained in the tanks of a vehicle performing a transport operation destined for its propulsion or for the operation of any of its equipment used or intended for use during carriage. The fuel may be carried in fixed fuel tanks, directly connected to the vehicle’s engine and/or auxiliary equipment, which comply with the pertinent legal provisions, or may be carried in portable fuel containers (such as jerricans).
  • The total capacity of the fixed tanks shall not exceed 1500 litres per transport unit and the capacity of a tank fitted to a trailer shall not exceed 500 litres.
  • A maximum of 60 litres per transport unit may be carried in portable fuel containers. However, these restrictions shall not apply to vehicles operated by the emergency services.
NOTE1: A container fitted with equipment for use during carriage, secured on a vehicle,is considered as an integral part of the vehicle and benefits from the same exemptions as regards the fuel necessary to operate the equipment.

NOTE2: The total capacity of the tanks or cylinders, including those containing gaseous fuels, shall not exceed 54 000 MJ energy equivalent (see NOTE 1 in (a)). (b) and (c) (Deleted)

Further information can be found in our source ADR Book You can also read more about Dangerous Goods UK Regulations, by visiting the HSE website.

Countries where ADR applies

The UNECE website displays a full list of the competent country authorities applying ADR in line with the List of Competent Authorities for the application of ADR, notifications in accordance with 1.9.4, 1.9.5 (tunnel restrictions), and other notifications.

Documentation required to carry dangerous goods

When transporting dangerous goods internationally under ADR, you must ensure that your loads are always accompanied by a transport document. This sets out detailed information on the load being carried, including full classification of any substances carried and how to package them. You must present the required information in a certain order and follow certain rules on language.

In addition to documents required under other regulations, under ADR you must ensure that the following documents are carried on the transport unit;

  • Transport documents containing prescribed information for each dangerous substance, material, or article being carried
  • Emergency instructions in writing
  • Means of identification, including a photograph of each member of the vehicle crew

In addition, if any part of your journey involves sea transport of the vehicle, see this information on moving goods by sea.

Emergency instructions in writing

The consignor of a vehicle carrying dangerous goods must provide the driver with details of the hazards associated with their dangerous goods loads and instructions on emergency action to take if an accident occurs;

  • Before a journey commences, the driver/haulier must provide the instructions in writing (rather than the consignor)
  • The instructions must be in languages that every member of the vehicle’s driver/crew understand
  • One set of instructions - based on a 4-page model - covers all dangerous goods rather than specific products

Other agreements and legislation, may apply to dangerous loads. Some exceptions or ‘derogations’ from the provisions of ADR are allowed under certain multilateral agreements. These allow goods to be transported - usually for a fixed period - between or through any of the countries that have signed up to the multilateral agreement. If you are carrying dangerous goods under such an agreement, you must carry a copy of that agreement. You should also check whether other legislation beyond the ADR applies to the dangerous goods, you are carrying - for example, load restrictions on the carriage of petrol.

The dangerous goods vehicle approval certificate

To carry explosives or dangerous goods in tanks by road to or through countries, which apply to ADR, you may need to obtain a certificate under Annex B of ADR.

Fixed-tank vehicles, tank-battery vehicles and other vehicles carrying explosives must undergo technical inspection and a certification procedure in their country of registration to make sure that they conform with ADR requirements and to the standard safety regulations in force, for example covering brakes, lighting and steering.

In the UK, vehicles can be inspected at certain Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Goods Vehicle Testing Stations. DVSA issues a certificate of approval, valid for one year, for vehicles that pass this inspection. Vehicle operators must pay a fee for the inspection.

See the guide on:

  • ADR and other tests for dangerous or hazardous goods vehicles.
  • Apply for an ADR test with DVSA’s ADR III form dated 02/2015 below

Driver training certificates are required under ADR

Under ADR, drivers of vehicles with tanks and certain tank components, and some drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods in packages, must hold a special vocational certificate of training, sometimes referred to informally as an ‘ADR Certificate’.

All drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods must attend an approved basic training course. These courses equip drivers with information and tools so that they;

  • Are aware of the hazards in the carriage of dangerous goods
  • Can take steps to reduce the likelihood of an incident taking place
  • Can take all necessary measures for their own safety and that of the public and the environment to limit the effects of any incident that does occur
  • Have individual practical experience of the actions they will need to take

For more details on the different crew, and training requirements see chapter 8.2 of ADR.

Driver training Crew and Vehicles

Chapter 8.2 of ADR covers driver training. The table below summarises the requirements.

Vehicle /load ADR Driver Training ADR Reference
All vehicles except those carrying packages under thesmall loadthreshold. General training plus ADR Training certificate
The certificate may be endorsed for different classes of dangerous goods or different modes (in tanks or other than tanks.)
Any vehicle carrying packaged dangerous goods under thesmall loadthreshold. General training 8.2.3 (refers to chapter 1.3)
A vehicle with the a small tank (up to 1 m3) General training











ADR chapter 1.3 gives the details of the "ADR general training". The requirement for carriers to keep a record of training is in ADR 1.3.3. ADR 2011 clarified the requirement that training should be carried out before a person assumes responsibilities in relation to dangerous goods. Otherwise, duties should be carried out only under the direct supervision of a trained person (see 1.3.1).

Drivers are required to carry their training certificates by ADR From 2011 the training certificates followed a standard "credit card" format as shown in ADR It includes security features ( and a photo of the holder.

ADR test required to certify vehicles used to transport dangerous goods

Vehicles used to transport dangerous or hazardous goods must undergo annual checks to certify that they are roadworthy. Certain dangerous goods vehicles must have an extra test and certificate over and above the normal heavy goods vehicle roadworthiness test. This is known informally as an ‘ADR test’. It ensures that vehicles comply with part 9 of ADR. Vehicle requirements vary according to the nature of the goods being carried.

How to book your annual ADR dangerous goods vehicle test

Dangerous goods vehicle tests can be done at all DVSA test stations. An ADR vehicle test can be done at the same time as the annual test, for an extra fee.

  • Apply for an ADR road vehicle certification test.

You must complete a VTG15 form for any vehicles undergoing ADR certification testing to certify that your vehicle is carrying dangerous goods.

Requirements for the carriage of dangerous goods on vehicles at sea

The carriage of dangerous goods in vehicles on ships is governed in UK law by the Merchant Shipping (Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutants) Regulations 1997. These regulations enact the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) code established by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The IMDG code covers the carriage of goods, which have been classified as dangerous if transported by sea, or are a marine pollutant.

The ‘Blue Book’ referred to in previous guidance no longer exists. It has been replaced by Merchant Shipping Notices (MSNs), which are issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). MSNs cover mandatory information that must be complied with under UK legislation. These MSNs relate to legal requirements and contain the technical detail of such regulations.

You can download a Dangerous Goods Drivers Checklist at the link below: "

Guidelines for packing dangerous cargo in freight containers

The IMO publishes guidelines for packing cargo in freight containers or vehicles, as a supplement to the IMDG Code.

Help and advice on the carriage of Dangerous Goods on ships, please visit the link below

Appointing a dangerous goods safety adviser

Companies engaged in carrying, packing, filling, loading, and/or unloading dangerous goods by road, rail, or inland waterways might have to appoint a dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA) to comply with ADR. DGSA requirements and their role are explained in chapter 1.8.3 of ADR. A brief overview of a DGSA’s role within this sector of the industry is available within this section of the website. In the UK, the ADR requirements for appointing a DGSA are enforced under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Inspection of tanks used to carry dangerous goods by road

Before an ADR vehicle inspection is carried out, fixed tanks, demountable tanks, vehicles carrying batteries of receptacles, and tank containers must be examined and tested by an inspection body approved by the Department for Transport (DfT). To get the appropriate certificates, your tank equipment will have to meet certain design, construction, and equipment standards.

Vehicle Certification Agency Dangerous Goods Office

For advice on moving or packaging dangerous goods you can contact;

  • Phone 01372 226111 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm)
  • Email

DVSA Helpline - 0300 123 9000
Published -10 September 2012
Last updated 25 January 2017