As a trader, you probably use a van on a regular basis to make sure you can move equipment and materials to customers’ homes.

But as you’ll know, it can be difficult finding somewhere to park near their properties. Get it wrong and you risk having to fork out for parking fines.

It’s worth asking customers about available parking before visiting them. If you can use their driveway or land, it’s unlikely to cause problems as you’ll be on their private property.

But if not, we’ve looked at what you’ll need to consider before parking up – including some surprising rules for parking at night.

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Where you can and can’t legally park

A parking fine on a windscreen

The good news is that, in most cases, you can park your van as you would park a car. You just need to make sure you park legally, don’t block traffic and don’t cause a danger to pedestrians or other road users.

The Highway Code says vehicles can park:

  • in off-street parking areas
  • in parking bays on the road marked out with white lines
  • on the roadside, facing the direction of traffic, as long as no restrictions apply on that road.

But the rules say you must not:

  • park or wait on double yellow lines at any time
  • park or wait on single yellow lines during the times shown on any signs
  • park or wait on school entrance markings or anywhere with signs that say you can’t (eg red routes)
  • park or stop on a pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zigzag lines
  • park in spaces reserved for specific users, such as Blue Badge holders, residents or motorcycles (unless you’re entitled to)
  • leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous place or where it blocks the road
  • park on the pavement in London, and you shouldn’t do this elsewhere unless signs permit it
  • park in areas such as taxi bays and cycle lanes.

It also warns drivers not to park in areas such as opposite a junction, near a school entrance or in front of the entrance to someone’s home. You can read the full list of places you shouldn’t park on the website.

Large goods vehicles

If you have to use a large commercial vehicle which has a maximum loaded weight of more than 7.5 tonnes, you must not park it on a verge, pavement or any land between carriageways, unless you have police permission.

The only exception to this rule is if you’re loading and unloading, as long as someone stays with your vehicle at all times.

Loading and unloading

Two men loading furniture into a van

Don’t load or unload your equipment, materials or goods where there are yellow markings on the kerb and signs saying restrictions are in place.

On red routes, look out for specially marked bays showing when and where loading and unloading is permitted.

Councils and private estates might have their own rules in addition to the Highway Code, so keep an eye out for signs. For example, you may be able to park along some roads for short periods of time just to load or unload goods.

Parking vans at night

Did you know there are different rules for parking at night, especially if you have a larger van?

If you park any vehicle on a road at night, you have to face the direction of traffic, unless you’re in a marked parking space.

And if the speed limit of that road is more than 30mph, you must have your parking lights on at all times.

But if your vehicle is a larger van with a maximum loaded weight of more than 2.5 tonnes (eg a Ford Transit), you have to display parking lights if you leave it on any road overnight, regardless of the speed limit.

Parking your van near your own home

If you keep your work van at your own home, tell your insurer and check you’re covered, especially if it’s a company van.

Make sure you know about any parking restrictions that apply on your road or estate. Some permit parking might only be for cars, or could only apply if you’re the registered owner.

Even if you’re using your own driveway, your home could have a clause in the deeds to prevent you parking a van there, although luckily this is rare.

Parking vans in residential areas can cause problems with neighbours, even when you’re not legally doing anything wrong. To avoid disputes, try not to park where your van could block light getting into people’s homes, or where you might restrict their view when they’re pulling in and out of their driveway.

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