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Road Users

Mobile machines and works vehicles

Definitions, mobile cranes, fork lifts, certificate of conformity, use on public roads. 

This content is for general information only. It does not, and is not intended to, provide legal or technical advice or to represent a legal interpretation of the matters it addresses.

Frequently asked questions

The term ‘mobile machine’ is used by motor tax officials and generally refers to vehicles which are ‘not considered to be a means of transport for either goods or passengers’ e.g., mobile cranes, fork lifts, mobile workshops, road sweepers, well drillers and concrete pumps.

There is no significant difference. Both terms are often used to describe the same type of vehicle.

A works vehicle is described as a vehicle other than a land tractor which has a maximum design speed not exceeding 40 km/h and which is ‘constructed primarily for any work other than the conveyance by road of goods or burden of any other description’.

A mobile machine is described as a vehicle which is ‘not considered to be a means of transport for either goods or passengers.'

Under the regulations, you are permitted to use a works vehicle on a road but only ‘in passing from one part of any such premises to another, or to other private premises in the immediate neighbourhood, or in connection with road works while at or in the immediate neighbourhood of the site of such works.' If the mobile machine is being used on a public road outside these boundaries, then it must be registered.

Information on registration can be found on Revenue’s webpage.

See table below:

Chassis typeType-ApprovalTest

Mobile machines with a ‘dedicated’ or purpose built chassis:


A ‘dedicated’ chassis is one which is purpose built on the vehicle and is fully completed in the manufacturer’s factory for a specific function e.g. Liebherr, Grove and Terex



Mobile machines with a ‘conventional goods’ chassis:


A ‘conventional goods’ chassis is where a standard heavy goods chassis is supplied by the vehicle manufacturer, but a specialised body is fitted to it at a later stage to complete the vehicle e.g.


Volvo, Scania, Hino, DAF and Mercedes



You will need to contact the original manufacturer or authorised distributor.

Under the Motor Vehicles – Duties and Excise Act 2013, it is our understanding that ‘the vehicle once taxed can legally be used up to a distance of 1 km from its base’. However, we would advise that you contact your local motor tax office for further clarification. All vehicles used on public roads must comply with the following regulations:

S.I. No. 190 of 1963- Road Traffic Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles Regulations 1963

S.I. No. 189 of 1963- Road Traffic Lighting of Vehicles Regulations 1963 – Article 52 of this regulation deals with exemptions and modifications for certain classes of vehicles including forklifts.

S.I. No. 5 of 2003 - Road Traffic Construction and Use of Vehicles Regulations 2003

Road sweepers are subject to roadworthiness testing if built on a category N based chassis i.e., a conventional truck. This test involves checking that a vehicle meets a set of basic safety standards on the day it passed its test. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy while operating on a public road. For further information see HCV Manual.

For vehicles built on a category N based chassis i.e., conventional truck, they must comply with the EC whole vehicle type approval (ECWVTA). Current type-approval requirements for motor vehicles are set out in Regulation (EU) 2018/858 and these vehicle types are generally classified under special purpose vehicles. Further information on type-approval, see type-approval webpage.

For vehicles in-service, the applicable regulations* are as follows are as follows:

S.I. No. 190 of 1963 Road Traffic Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles Regulations

S.I. No. 5 of 2003 Road Traffic Construction and Use of Vehicles Regulations

S.I. No. 189 of 1963 Road Traffic Lighting of Vehicles Regulations

S.I No. 158 of 1985 Side Guards/Lateral Protection and Spray Suppression

S.I. No. 272 of 2011 are exempt for road sweepers.

*These regulations are in original format and amendments can be viewed at Irish Statute Book.

Related pages

Drivers of other vehicles

Vehicle standards and FAQs for special purpose vehicles, including motorhomes, ride-on lawnmowers, motorised wheelchairs, hearses.