There are different rules for the maximum weights and dimensions for trucks. These rules are laid down in the European directives (EU transport directive 96/53/EC) and relate to lorries, tractors, trailers and semi-trailers of more than 3,5 tonnes. We must therefore comply with these rules for transport.

Truck width

The maximum width of a truck is limited to 2,55 metres. This also applies when a truck transports cargo that protrudes in width, unless a permit is available for this. In the case of a conditioned vehicle, this is 2,60 metres, provided that the walls of the vehicle are at least 4,5 cm thick.

Truck height

The height of a truck may not exceed 4,00 metres. A container or another type of trailer may also not be higher.

If the cargo fits in a standard container, you do not have to take this into account. But if you are going to load an open-top container or a flat rack, you have to take into account that it fits within the maximum height. You must take into account the height of the chassis and the height of the container.

Type Height
Chassis 1,15 m
bottom 20ft 30 cm
bottom 40ft 60 cm
bottom OT 20 cm
8'6 (standard container) 2,59 m
9'6 (High Cube container)  2,89 m
8'6 + chassis 3,74 m
9'6 + chassis 4,04 m *

* A 9'6 container + chassis is therefore actually too high to transport, an exemption can be requested by the carrier. An exemption for the transport of high cube containers is granted for one year for the transport of an ISO container with a height of 9'6", provided that it concerns intermodal transport and the combination does not exceed 4,15 meters

Truck weight

The EU standards set the maximum mass for vehicles and combinations partly dependent on the axle configuration. The permitted maximum mass is limited to a maximum of 40 tons. The Netherlands applies the permitted axle loads of the EU standards. Higher masses are sometimes allowed in agreements between countries. For example, the Netherlands uses a standard 50 tons for national transport.

The maximum permitted mass is the sum of the weight of the vehicle, the occupant and the payload.

A combination including chassis weighs +/- 14,5-15T. Also take into account the weight of the container (tare) with the maximum payload.


Country Maximum cross-border weight
Belgium 44 ton
Germany 40 ton
France 40 ton
Greece 40 ton
Italy 40 ton
Luxembourg 40 ton
The Netherlands 44 ton
Austria 40 ton
Poland 40 ton
Portugal 40 ton
Slovenia 40 ton
Spain 40 ton
United Kingdom 40 ton
Sweden 40 ton
Switzerland 40 ton

Brussels is working on new legislation for the sizes and weights of commercial vehicles. The aim is to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of road transport.

United Container Transport BV is not liable for exceeding the legally permitted axle loads as a result of containers that are too heavy or incorrectly loaded. Any traffic fines resulting from exceeding the legal axle load will be passed on to the clients.

Frequently asked questions

What is the maximum weight that can be loaded?

The maximum weight must take into account the weight of the tractor, chassis and container. Our trucks incl. chassis weigh approximately 14.500/15.000 KG. This leaves +/- 25.000 KG for the cargo and container. With the exception of the Netherlands and Belgium, then 29.000 KG remains.

What is the weight of a sea container?

The weight of a sea container is determined by its construction. As a result, the weight of each sea container differs.

The weight of an empty sea container is often referred to as 'tare' (empty weight). The maximum load capacity depends on the type of container. This information can be found on the doors of the sea container.

Is there an exception if the transport is done with genset?

If the transport is carried out with a genset, our combination incl. chassis and genset is heavier. +/- 16.000 KG must then be taken into account. The maximum weight to be loaded is therefore lower.