Regulations for abnormal transport in Poland

August 2017

Big changes in the coming years

In the period before 1989 road transport was largely regulated centrally by the government. The bulkiest and heaviest transports that were needed for the construction of the electricity network were carried out by ZTE Radom. When the wall came down in 1989 it became possible for many entrepreneurs to fulfill a long-held aspiration: to launch their own transport business. In the nineties exemptions for abnormal transports were reviewed per transport, a simple but time-consuming system.

In 2004 Poland joined the European Economic Community, which made it easier for Polish companies to do business in other European countries. Soon several Polish transport companies began to specialise in abnormal transport. The experience that several operators had gained at the old state-owned companies, such as ZTE Radom, proved to be extremely useful. In 2008 the OSPTN was founded, the association of Polish heavy transport companies. Due to the efforts of the OSPTN the regulations for abnormal transport have been thoroughly reviewed over the past few years and a large number of changes are being prepared or await the approval of the government.

Three types of roads, seven categories.

The Polish system for abnormal transport is – in principle – simple: three types of roads and seven categories of exemptions. Roads are approved for 8, 10 or 11.5 tonnes per axle. Exemptions are classified into Category 1 to 7. Category 1 is an exemption for regional and local traffic and Cat. 2 applies to agricultural machinery up to 3.5 metres wide. Cat. 3 grants exemption up to 3.2 metres wide, 23 metres long and 4.3 m high, but not for weight. In Cat. 4 the length permitted is 30 metres and the width 3.4 metres, provided the trailer is equipped with steering axles.

Przewodniczący OSPTN: Łukasz Chwalczuk
Do transportów o DMC zestawu powyżej 60 ton, zastosowanie ma zawsze kategoria 7

In Cat. 5 and 6 the maximum gross weight increases to 60 tonnes. And the final one is the most important: Cat. 7 is meant for all vehicles that weigh more than 60 tonnes and are higher, wider or longer than the dimensions mentioned in Cat. 1 to 6. In Poland vehicles with an exemption in Categories 1 to 6 are allowed on the road during the day as well as the night. Cat. 7 is an individual exemption. It includes an assessment whether the journey can take place during the day or night and how many escort vehicles are needed. If the height exceeds 4.3 metres a route survey must be carried out. The transport operator must submit a written confirmation showing that the route survey has been carried out. In that case a height of up to 5 metres will be permitted.

Checks and fines

Poland is divided into districts and the inspectors in some of the districts are much more active than in others. The Polish transport operators know exactly where more or indeed fewer checks take place. The fines for infringement of the regulations are clear for the categories 1 to 6: 5,000 Zloty (€ 1,150.-) maximum, but exceeding the weight limits is severely penalised. The largest fines are imposed for passing over a bridge or viaduct without exemption with too high a weight. If the weight is exceeded by more than 20%, the fine will be 15,000 Zloty (€ 3,500.-). On top of that there may be a fine for passing over any bridges. The tariff for this starts at 3,000 Zloty (€ 700.-), but can increase to a far higher amount. Since 2012 the police is no longer active in heavy transport. The haulier needs to notify the road operator (owner) within 7 days prior the transport, if he wants to pass the bridge with 5 or 6 category permission.

Changes in the coming years

The OSPTN (the association for abnormal transport in Poland) seeks to bring about five important changes in the regulations in the near future.

  1. Changing the registration of the vehicle on an exemption.
    Exemptions that are currently issued are valid up to 24 months maximum. It is not possible to change the registration on the exemption. In their negotiations with the government the OSPTN puts the option of changing the registration is at the top of the agenda.
  2. To apply for an exemption digitally is not yet possible. To make it possible to carry out the transport on time it is sometimes necessary to even collect the exemption in Warsaw. The OSPTN campaigns for the option to apply and receive applications digitally.
  3. The requirements for escorts and their vehicle will be defined more precisely. At the moment vehicles in any colour are permitted, in the near future the choice of colours will be restricted. The requirements for the training, testing and experience of the escorts will be scrutinized further and proposals for the regulations will be drawn up based on the results.
  4. In Poland the maximum permitted axle loads are currently the same for all axles. The association is in favour of differentiating between axles. In that case a pendle axle will be allowed 12 tonnes maximum per axle and beam axles 10 tonnes maximum per axle.
  5. Many mobile cranes are built on the basis of a maximum axle load of 12 tonnes per axle. The negotiations concerning the upgrading of the axle loads will probably result this year in an increase in the permitted axle load for cranes to 12 tonnes.

Different infrastructure

The infrastructure in Poland is different than in some other European countries. Poland does not have a network of canals and rivers, such as exists between the Netherlands and Germany. The various canals that connect the south and north of Poland with each other have a water level that is too low for the transport of very heavy loads. Discussions about improving the existing canals are ongoing, but it will be years before any work will start. Because transport by rail is no solution either this means that nearly every large or heavy load must be transported by road. High, wide or long, is usually fine – often after a thorough route survey – but heavy loads are a big problem. Many bridges are only suitable for HGV’s with a maximum weight of 50 or sometimes 60 tonnes. If the weight exceeds 60 tonnes each bridge or viaduct has to be assessed to determine whether the transport can pass over it without any problems.


Lukasz Chwalczuk is the chairman of the OSPTN. Ten years ago he hardly knew anything about abnormal transport, but due to his legal background he is the perfect intermediary between the transport operators and the Polish government. His position on the board of the ESTA also enables him to promote the interests of the Polish companies on an international level.
Lukasz: “In the past few years we have achieved quite a lot. Sometimes it’s about relatively small things, such as road signs to clearly indicate which roads are suitable for 8, 10 or 11.5 tonnes per axle.

Naczepy Nooteboom z serii Mega są w Polsce bardzo popularne

It’s important for the Polish industry to be able to transport their goods over the road. Work is being done to improve the infrastructure in Poland, but the permit for vehicles exceeding a gross weight of 60 tonnes remains problematic. When it comes to regulations, such as e.g. escort vehicles, we study the situation in other European countries. For instance, we have a very good relationship with the RDW (Dutch Road Administration).”

Poland is a country where developments take place at a rapid pace. In just one generation Poland has changed from a closed Eastern European economy to a vibrant country with young, enthusiastic and well-educated people. The sector abnormal transport gained momentum when Poland joined the EEG. There is no shortage of enthusiasm and technical knowledge, but the regulations are still evolving and the infrastructure needs investment in order to give more leeway to transports that exceed 60 tonnes GVW.

This transport is allowed without exemption
Z efektywnym zezwoleniem kategorii 4 naczepa powinna mieć osie skrętne hydraulicznie
Kategoria 3: szerokość do 3,2 metrów oraz długość do 23 metrów