Rivervale's Guide to Loading and Unloading Vans

Rivervale's Guide to Loading and Unloading Vans

Are you a van fleet driver or do you drive a van for your own business? If you do, then you need to be aware of the laws surrounding weight loading and unloading vans.

Vehicles that are not properly loaded - or are overloaded - can be deemed unroadworthy and affect your business financially.

our guide to know everything you need about safely loading and unloading vans, including a walkaround checklist for van operators and van drivers and all the best vans for payload by weight

Having an overloaded van can get you in trouble with the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). According to a study made by the RAC in 2015, 89% of the 10,800 vans stopped by the DVSA were overloaded. Furthermore, the DVSA estimates that over 1.2 million van drivers are consistently overloading their vehicles. The average cost of your van being off road is £700 A DAY, which can have massive implications on your businesses overall revenue.

Current penalties for vans that are overloaded are;

  • 5%-10% over £100
  • 10%-15% over £200
  • 15-30% over £300
  • More than 30% over Court summons

In order to avoid these implications - and save your business MILLIONS - we recommend that you take note of the advice provided within this guide.

View our van leasing prices

Van weight limits and loading


The vehicle categories on the back of your driving licence indicate which vehicles you are allowed to drive - here are some of the different terms you may find;

Unladen Weight

The unladen weight of a vehicle is the weight of the vehicle when it’s empty but fueled (also referred to as kerbing weight).

‘Maximum Authorised Mass’ or ‘Gross Vehicle Weight’

‘Maximum Authorised Mass’ (MAM) or ‘Gross Vehicle Weight’ (GVW) is the weight of the vehicle or trailer plus the maximum load the vehicle is permitted to carry when travelling on the road. This can be found on the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) plate or on a sticker fitted to the vehicle. It’s the maximum your vehicle is allowed to weight, including the weight of the: van, driver and passengers, fuel and load.


Down-plating a vehicle, also referred to as down-weighting or down-rating, is when the vehicle is unlikely to be used at its potential maximum weight. This means that a lower weight is displayed on the vehicles plate or sticker.

Calculating your vans payload

In order to calculate your van’s payload, you’ll need to work out two things: the Gross Vehicle Weight and the Kerbweight.

NOTE: It’s important to remember that a van’s stated kerbweight is directly from the manufacturer - so, if you’ve equipped your van with new tyres or lights etc then you’ll also need to take this into consideration when calculating the kerbweight as these can increase it.

If you want an accurate calculation, you can check how much your van weighs at a local weighbridge

Use the below formula to calculate your van payload capacity;

Gross vehicle Weight - Kerb weight = Payload

For instance - you have a van with GVW of 3000kg, and the kerb weight of the van is 2400kg, which means you can carry a payload of up to 600kg and stay within the law.

Sounds straightforward doesn't it.

REMEMBER: You’ll also need to consider the weight of passengers and any luggage when calculating the payload and total weight.

Loading and unloading vans

It is really important to ensure your van is loaded correctly because it can be extremely dangerous. An insecure load can badly harm or kill others if it falls from the vehicle, and could have severe safety implications for you and your passengers if it isn’t properly strapped inside the van. Braking, steering and handling can be significantly affected if your van is overloaded. You’ll also experience greater fuel consumption, increased strain on your tyres and your insurance will become invalidated. As for unloading your van, make sure you're free in a safe environment and there's no traffic or obstructions in the way.

Watch this video by DVSA to understand how to properly load your van;

Van Checklist

In order to keep your van safe to drive, follow this walkaround checklist.

IMPORTANT: You can be charged up to £2,500 and get 3 penalty points on your license for using a van that doesn't meet the road safety requirements.

Here are 6 of the the best vans with under 1 tonne payload and over 1 tonne payload.

Vans under 1 tonne payload

Ford Transit Custom 280 L1 FWD


  • MPG (Combined): 42.80
  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Gross vehicle weight: 2800
  • Max loading weight (KG): 799.00
  • Transmission: Manual

Standard features; Cruise control with leather steering wheel and gear knob, LH sliding side load door, Load compartment interior light, Full width unglazed steel bulkhead with through load hatch, 180 degree opening rear doors - unglazed

Our Ford Transit Custom leasing prices start from £199.99 exc. VAT per month

Ford Transit Courier


MPG (Combined): 48.70
Fuel type: Petrol
Gross vehicle weight (KG): 1780
Max loading weight (KG): 535.00
Transmission: Manual

Standard features; Unglazed rear doors, Full steel bulkhead, Load area floor covering, Recirculation heater, Manual airconditioning, solid paint

Our Ford Transit Courier leasing prices start from £148.69 exc. VAT per month

Citroen Berlingo M


  • MPG (Combined): 64.20
  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Gross vehicle weight (KG): 2000
  • Max loading weight (KG): 681.00
  • Transmission: Manual

Standard features; Cruise control with programmable speed limiter, Side rubbing strips, Hard plastic load floor protection, 15" steel wheels with twin wheel cover, Citroen connect with 8"colour touchscreen, DAB radio, Mirroscreen, bluetooth with handsfree, USB socket and Aux-in jack

Our Citroen Berlingo leasing prices start from £205.26 exc. VAT per month

Vans over 1 tonne payload

Ford Ranger


  • MPG (Combined): 32.10
  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Gross vehicle weight (KG): 3270
  • Max loading weight (KG): 1059.00
  • Transmission: Auto

Standard features; Cruise control and variable speed limiter, Solid paint, Caliber cloth/Journey grain leather - Ebony

Our Ford Ranger leasing prices start from £245.28 exc. VAT per month


Peugeot Partner Standard


  • MPG (Combined): 67.30
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • Gross vehicle weight (KG): 2370
  • Max loading weight (KG): 1050.00
  • Transmission: Manual

Standard features; 8" Colour touchscreen with Connect DAB radio, MirrorScreen, Bluetooth handsfree, USB socet and aux-in jack, Rear parking sensor, 180 degree opening unglazed asymmetric rear doors, Side rubbing strips, Full bulkhead, Hard plastic floor protection in cabin, 16" Steel wheels with Rakiura wheel cover

Fiat Doblo Cargo L1


  • MPG (Combined): 0.00
  • Fuel type: Diesel
  • Gross vehicle weight (KG): 2290
  • Max loading weight (KG): 1080.00
  • Transmission: Manual

Standard features; Radio/CD player basic, High performance loudspeakers, Manually adjustable door mirrors, Solid paint, Single passenger seat, Passenger airbag sticker, Fix and go tyre repair kit

Our Fiat Doblo leasing prices start from £196.64 exc. VAT per month

If you'd like to discuss van leasing options with an account manager today - request a callback now.

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