A total of 328.1 billion miles (that’s 328,100,000,000) were driven on Great Britain’s roads in 2018 (the last year we have data for) – an increase over previous years.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) make up just over 5% of this total, but the impact of lorries, compared to cars or even vans can be substantial.

That’s the thinking behind the HGV Road User Levy, which must be paid for any HGV over 12 tonnes that uses UK roads (whether they are registered in the UK or not).

Why do we have to pay the HGV Road User Levy?

While HGVs make up only 5.2% of the vehicles on UK roads, they tend to have a much greater impact on the wear-and-tear of the road system than other vehicles. Additionally, the nature of haulage and importing means that many HGVs using UK roads are part of international operations (over twenty-two million tonnes of goods were loaded and unloaded from non-UK-registered HGVs in the UK in 2017 alone), so may not be required to pay things like vehicle excise duty (VED) in the UK. The levy is in place to ensure that all HGVs using the UK road network make a contribution to maintaining that network.

Environmental impact of HGVs

While road transport emissions fell by 2% in 2018, it is still the largest-emitting sector in the UK, with road transport overall contributing around 23% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, and HGVs accounting for around 17% of the UK greenhouse gas emissions from road transport.

Impact of HGVs on road condition

Any vehicle travelling on the road has some impact on the general wear-and-tear of road surfaces, but the heavier and larger the vehicle, the more impact it will have on the road. Its in the name: Heavy goods vehicles have a far greater impact on the road system than lighter vehicles. The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) Road Test is a landmark 1960s study into the impact of load on road surfaces. From that, we get the Generalised Fourth Power Law – the standard that determines the relative impact of vehicles on the road. The damaging power of a vehicle on the road rises exponentially as weight increases – structural road damage is related to the axle weight of the vehicle by a power of four.

Equally, accidents and incidents involving HGVs are likely to have a greater damaging impact on road infrastructure.

What is the HGV Road User Levy?

As we’ve established, the levy is a charge applied to any HGV using the UK road network. The Department for Transport (DfT) says that:

“The aim of the levy is to ensure these vehicles make a contribution to the wear and tear of the road network”

The levy applies to all HGVs at or above 12,000kg using UK roads (including roads in Northern Ireland), for any length of time.

Paying the HGV Road User Levy

For HGVs registered in the UK, paying the levy is easy. Levy payments are collected by the DVLA and typically paid in a single transaction along with VED.

For HGVs not registered in the UK (including those registered on the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), both the driver and the operator are liable for the levy, and it can be paid for by the operator or the driver, or by a booking agent. The levy must be paid before the vehicle uses UK roads.

The cost for the levy varies based on a number of factors, including the weight of the vehicle, the vehicle’s axle configuration, the emissions standard of the vehicle and the duration of the levy paid. The DfT has published a full breakdown of HGV levy bands and rates.

Non-UK-registered vehicles can either create an account and pre-fund for the week, month or year via credit or debit card, PayPal, some fuel cards or by bank transfer.

There is also a pay-and-go option for one-off or very rare trips to the UK, where a day-by-day payment is made either online, over the phone using a credit or debit card, or at an in-person point-of-sale agent, using either credit or debit card, or cash payment.

Discount for reduced emissions vehicles

In February 2019, the levy rate was adjusted to take the Euro emission standard of the vehicle into account. Vehicles producing more greenhouse gas emissions will now pay a higher levy than other, environmentally-friendly, HGVs. The discount is applied to HGVs meeting the Euro VI regulations.

What happens if I don’t pay the levy?

Enforcement authorities are automatically alerted when an HGV that has not paid the correct levy enters the UK road network. Non-compliant HGVs are stopped and the driver issued with a £300 fixed penalty fine, to be paid at the roadside. Where the fine cannot (or will not) be paid at the roadside, the vehicle will be immobilised and impounded until the fine is paid. In addition to the cost and inconvenience of a roadside fixed-penalty notice, failing to pay the levy is a criminal offence.

How to ensure your levy payments are uptodaye

You must pre-pay the levy – unlike the London congestion charge, the HGV Road User Levy must be paid in advance of road-use. For this reason – and the impact of not paying the levy- it is essential that you remember to pay the levy on time, every time.

Using a system like Stream Check, you can automate reminders for vehicle bookings based on date. All you need to do is set up a new booking schedule, add reminders to renew your levy payment, and pre-pay for the next period as soon as you get the reminder.

For a closer look at Stream Check and all the ways it can help you and your fleet stay compliant, schedule your demo today.