Trailer Road Traffic Regulations

All trailers must meet with Irish Road Traffic Regulations when in use in a public place. These regulations set out the law in relation to weights, lights, brakes, plating, under-run, side-guards, securing of loads, etc.

In-use regulations

There are three main legal instruments regulating trailers in Ireland currently:

  • the Road Traffic (Construction and Use of Vehicles) Regulations (or C&U Regulations) outline the maximum weights and dimensions for trailers
  • the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations (or CE&U Regulations) outline the braking and other requirements for trailers
  • the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations (or Lighting Regulations) outline the lighting requirements for trailers

These regulations have been substantially amended since drafting and copies of the original instruments, along with detailed lists of amendments to date are available on our standards for vehicles and trailers in use section.

If you’re operating a trailer, make sure you understand your in-use requirements.

Furthermore, individuals engaged in the supply of trailers also have a legal responsibility to ensure that trailers and their components comply with all applicable requirements set out in Road Traffic legislation.

Trailer Type Approval - from 29th October 2012

For safety, environmental, and trade reasons, the EU has set common construction standards for motor vehicles and trailers. Any trailer that has been approved to these standards can be first licensed in the State in the case of heavy goods trailers, or sold in the case of light trailers.  From October 29th 2012 onwards, trailers must comply with these standards, known as European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA), whereby tests are carried out on a representative trailer, and subsequent trailers manufactured are issued with approval certification from the manufacturer in order to allow them to enter into service.

There are also new national schemes to approve trailers: both those manufactured in low volume in Ireland, and for trailers manufactured or imported individually. The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is the Irish appointed approval authority and is responsible for issuing National Approvals for trailers in Ireland. NSAI has established a network of Appointed Test Centre’s (ATC’s) who physically examine and issue test reports for some or all of the technical requirements. These test reports are then used by NSAI to grant the trailer approvals.

Information Notes have been prepared for light trailers and heavy trailers in order to provide further clarification on the system of type approval applicable to these vehicles from  the 29th of October 2012 onwards.

However, irrespective of type approval or national approval requirements, once trailers are in use on the public road, they must meet the requirements laid out in the ‘C&U’ ‘CE&U’, and ‘Lighting Regulations’ outlined above