Permits Guidance FAQs

Permit Overview

When did it start?
Do I need a permit?
Who can apply?
Which recycling sites are affected?
Why are you introducing permits?
How much does a permit cost?
When can you use your permit?

•    When did it start?

Permits and other changes were introduced from  3 October 2016, with some changes from 30 June 2017 after a review of the first six months’ operation.  

 •    Do I need a permit?

This predominantly depends on the DVLA vehicle classification of your vehicle category which can be found by using the link to the DVLA website provided here. Look up your vehicle details and check the classification shown in the line called “Vehicle Type Approval”.

You need a permit if you use a:

  • Vehicle with an ‘N1’ classification, ‘designed and constructed for the carriage of goods under 3.5 tonnes’, such as: vans and pick-ups.
  • Campervan or minibus with either ‘N1’ or ‘M1’ classification.
  • Single-axle trailer of up to three-metre floor length (but only if towed by a vehicle with an ‘M1’ classification – including similar pre classified vehicles). Vehicles that require a permit cannot tow a trailer under any circumstances.

You may need a permit if you use a:
Pre DVLA classified vehicle—please contact SWP for clarification where your vehicle does not show a DVLA classification.

You cannot apply for a permit or visit any site if you use a:

  • Any vehicle with a ‘M2’, ‘M3’, ‘N2’, ‘N3.
  • Any Luton van or box van, regardless of classification.
  • Single axle trailer over three-metres floor length.
  • Any multi-axle trailer.
  • Horse box, agricultural vehicle, agricultural trailer.

No permit needed unless towing trailer:

  • Any vehicle (except camper vans & minibuses) with an M1 classification, (or similar pre classified vehicles) ‘designed and constructed for the carriage of people and comprising no more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat’, such as: most cars, estates & people carriers. Only these vehicles may tow a trailer on to a recycling site.

Check the van and trailer permit pictogram, including Land Rovers.

•    Who can apply?

Somerset residents only.  You must be a Somerset resident to be eligible for a permit.  Apply on line here.

•    Which recycling sites are affected?

This will apply to all Somerset’s 14 Recycling Centres and two Community Recycling Sites

•    Why do we need permits?

Congestion, out-of-county visitors and illegal commercial waste have created problems for customers at recycling sites, put safety and efficiency at risk, and driven up operating costs.  Permits will help tackle this by reducing congestion, improving services and enhancing safety. Similar schemes have been introduced in many other local authorities including all of Somerset’s neighbouring authorities in North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Wiltshire. For a more detailed explanation of how the decision was reached and the factors involved, see the end of these FAQs.

•    How much does a permit cost?

Permits are free.

•    When can you use your permit?

You can use permits during normal site opening hours.  Even if they have a permit for the towing vehicle, these vehicles cannot access sites at any time while towing trailers: vans, pick-ups, campervans, minibuses, Land Rover pick-ups.

Q and As

Permit Applications
Permit Use
Permit entitlement
What happens after I have applied for a permit?
Renewal, changes or lost permits
Non-Somerset residents
Enforcement of the scheme
Hire vehicles
Commercial users
Concessionary waste permits

Permit Applications

•    How do I apply for a permit? Apply on line (Click here). For those without access to the internet, assistance is available in local libraries.
•    How long will it take for a permit to arrive? You will receive your permit by post within 10 working days (but see the note below about downloadable and email confirmations).
•    What information will I need to provide on the application? The on-line application will request your name (title, forename, surname) and full postal address, so please check the details are correct.  If you are applying for a van permit, you will need to provide the registration, make, model and colour. If the permit is for a pick-up, including Land Rover pick-up, campervan or minibus, apply for a van permit and give the same details. If applying for a trailer permit, provide the registration number of up to two cars – not vans or pick-ups – that you would use to tow your trailer.
•    Will I receive confirmation? After submitting your application, please print off or save the downloadable confirmation note.  If you have provided your e-mail address, we will send an e-mail, but his may be rejected by some e-mail spam filters. Both the downloadble and email confirmations can be used – printed or on a phone – for up to 21 days at recycling sites as temporary permits until your permit arrives.
•    What will the permit look like? – Permits will be of a credit card sized design.  They will be valid until until 30 September 2019 and be distinguished by their colour. The 2016-2019 permit is orange. They should be clearly displayed on every recycling site visit.
Back to Q&As

Permit use

•    Do I need a separate permit for every recycling site? – No, your permit will allow you access to all 14 Recycling Centres and 2 Community Recycling Sites.
•    Do I need a separate permit for every visit? – No, your permit is valid for all visits with your household waste.
•    Will I need the permit with me every time I visit a site? – Yes and it will need to be clearly visible on entry. On occasions, the details of your permit may be inspected by a member of site staff.
•    Can I visit a site more than once a day using a permit? Yes, but site staff and Somerset Waste Partnership will monitor the number of visits.
•    Can I visit a recycling centre at any time with my permit? Permits will allow access to recycling sites during usual opening hours..
Back to Q&As

Permit entitlement

•    I have a van and I also have a car with a trailer, can I have more than one permit? – Yes, each household is entitled to one van permit and one trailer permit. Vans, campervans, minibuses, pick-ups and Land Rover pick-ups cannot access recycling sites if towing any trailer. Please apply for these separately.
•    We have multiple vans, campervans, minibuses or pick-ups at the property. Can we have more than one van permit? – No only one van permit will be issued per household.
•    I have multiple cars which are used with a trailer; can I have more than one permit? – Only one trailer per household will be granted a permit, but up to two car registrations can be included in your application and will appear on the permit. We do not issue duplicate permits.
•    I have a company vehicle registered to the company, which is not based in Somerset.  Can I still have a permit? Yes, but you must use your residential address in Somerset for the application. It is the residential address of the driver that is relevant for the application.
•    I am a trader and have a van or pick-up which is registered to my business at my home address. Can I still have a permit? Yes, but it can only be used to bring your domestic/household waste, and cannot be used to tow any trailer onto any recycling site. There will be strict inspection on sites to ensure this is the case and the SWP will investigate further if commercial misuse is suspected and take appropriate legal action where warranted, and withdraw the permit where proven. Box vans and Luton vans cannot access sites.
•    I live on the county border with a neighbouring authority postcode but am in Somerset. Can I still get a permit? Yes, our postcode checker will recognise your postcode.
Back to Q&As

What happens after I have applied for a permit?
•    What happens if my permit does not arrive?  Please allow 10 working days from applying on-line before contacting us. If not received after 10 working days, please e-mail, providing your full contact details (address and day-time telephone number), the date you applied for your permit and the type of permit you have applied for (trailer or van), with details of the vehicle(s) and their registration number(s).
•    I have applied for a permit but it has not arrived and I want to take waste to a site. What should I do? If you gave an e-mail address, you would have been e-mailed with a confirmation note (we suggest you download the confirmation at the end of the application process).  This can be used for up to 21 days until your permit arrives.
Back to Q&As

Renewal, changes or lost permit
•    Does the permit have an expiry date? Yes. Permits are valid until 30 September 2019.
•    Will you contact me to tell me to renew my permit? Yes, if you provided an accurate e-mail address at the time of application and it remains current.
•    How do I renew? You can renew online at or visit a Somerset Library for assistance.
•    What if I change my name/vehicle/address? Please complete a new application at or visit a Somerset Library for assistance. Destroy the old permit as it will no longer be valid.
•    I have lost my permit, what do I do? Please apply for a new permit at or visit a Somerset Library for assistance. If you later find the old permit, destroy it as it will no longer be valid.
•    I am no longer the owner of the van/trailer which I previously obtained a permit for.  Should I pass this on to the new owner? If you sell your trailer or van, destroy the permit or hand it in to any recycling site.  Do not transfer the permit when you sell the van or trailer.  The new owner will need to apply if they are a Somerset resident and wish to use our sites.
Back to Q&As

•    Can I tow a trailer on my van permit? – No, vans, campervans, minibuses and pick-ups, including Land Rover pick-ups, will not be permitted to tow trailers of any size.
•    Can I tow a trailer by hand onto sites? -Trailers must be towed by a suitable vehicle for safety reasons, so you are not able to park a vehicle off site and tow your trailer in by hand.
•    Why are two or multiple axle trailers excluded under the new measures at recycling sites? – Congestion is often caused by large capacity vehicles depositing large loads, and feedback from sites tells us that vehicles equipped to carry very heavy loads can also have an impact on queuing times.  A single axle trailer might, for example, take a load of up to 750kg, while a double axle trailer of the same dimensions can carry double that.  It seems sensible when implementing these changes that we look at all the root causes of the problems we are trying to address, which is why axles were factored in.
•    Will I still need to pay £2 to use Dulverton and Crewkerne Community Recycling Sites if I have a permit? Yes, the entry fee to use these community recycling sites remains.
•    What happens to my contact details I enter onto the website form? Your data will be held for the purposes of processing your permit application, monitoring site usage, advising you of permit system changes, renewal reminders and, if you signed to receive our Sorted e-newsletter and other updates from SWP, sending you those communications (you can unsubscribe from such communications at any time). Beyond these uses, we will not share your data with any third party, except where we are legally required to or in order to ensure compliance with the terms of use of our facilities.
•    How can I find the classification of my vehicle (car, van, car-derived van, pick-up etc.) and its gross vehicle weight (GVW)? The make, model and type of vehicle you own is given in your V5c vehicle registration document. Your GVW should also be shown in Kgs. The DVLA vehicle classification of your vehicle category can be found by using the link to the DVLA website provided here.  Look up your vehicle details and check the classification shown in the line called “Vehicle Type Approval”. If you cannot find the classification of your vehicle, contact SWP customer services with all your details – name, address, phone, email – and those of their vehicle – type, registration number – by emailing with the subject line “Permit: unclassified vehicle”.

•    Will permits encourage fly-tipping? Fly-tipping is a national problem and Somerset Waste Partnership is working with other agencies and authorities across the county to monitor and take action against fly-tipping; such authorities will prosecute offenders where they have evidence to do so. Every individual and business can take action to defend themselves against fly-tipping; check here for information and advice.
•    I have a van larger than 3.5T GVW; where can I dispose of my recyclable waste? Vehicles larger than 3.5T GVW, trailers over three metres floor length or with multiple axles, and vans/pick-ups towing trailers can pay to dispose of their waste at Highbridge or Taunton (Priorswood) recycling sites, as a separate arrangement with our contractor (Viridor).  For full details and a price list, see
•    Are there any arrangements for excluded vehicles or trailers? Larger vehicles, box vans, Luton vans, vans/pick-ups towing trailers and or drivers towing multiple axle/multi-wheeled trailers can make arrangements to deposit recyclable materials at Highbridge and Taunton (Priorswood).

Back to Q&As

Non-Somerset residents
•    I live in a neighbouring authority but my place of work or my nearest recycling site is in Somerset.  Can I use a Somerset recycling site with a vehicle or trailer that requires a permit? No, only residents of Somerset can use the network of recycling sites.
Back to Q&As

Enforcement of the scheme

•    How will the scheme be enforced? Site staff will monitor and enforce the use of the permit scheme. Staff and agents of Somerset Waste Partnership have the authority to refuse entry. Please see the application terms and conditions.

•    I am a householder. Is there a limit on the amount of rubble, soil and hardcore I can bring to a site? There is no change to the current charged-for service provided for these materials as long as they are taken into a recycling site using a vehicle or trailer compliant with the scheme. NB: vans, campervans, minibuses and pick-ups, including Land Rover pick-ups,  cannot bring in trailers.
•    Now I have a permit, are you recording what waste I bring in and how much I deposit? No, however vehicle registration plate details are captured as vehicles enter all recycling sites as part on our ongoing monitoring of site usage for site safety, security and prevention of commercial waste abuse.
•    Does the permit belong to me? No, all permits remain the property of Somerset Waste Partnership and abuse of the permit scheme could result in your permit being revoked.  Permits must be surrendered to an officer of Somerset Waste Partnership or its agencies on request.
Back to Q&As

Hire vehicles
•    I am a Somerset resident (or I am assisting a family member who is a resident) and have hired a van or trailer to help me take my/their waste to a site.  Do I still need a permit? You do not need a permit for a short term hire of a van up to 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight (inclusive) or trailer of 3 days or less.  Upon entry to the site speak to a member of staff, show your hire agreement, and complete the waste declaration form they provide. This waiver form is to confirm you are bringing your/their household waste only. Once completed, there is provision on the form for it to act as a temporary permit. Hire vans or pick-ups cannot bring in trailers to any site.

This “permit waiver form” will only be offered if the duration of hire can be proven as three days or less. Failure to provide this proof will mean you cannot deposit your waste, so please bring your hire agreement with you.

•    I have a van hired by my business or my employer. Can I have a permit or use the permit waiver form? No, this waiver form is only available to privately hired vans or trailers used for transporting domestic waste.  For commercial waste disposal, please refer to the Business Advice pages.
Back to Q&As

Commercial users
•    Which recycling sites have facilities for commercial users? – Commercial recycling facilities are available at: Bridgwater (Saltlands), Chard, Frome, Highbridge, Minehead, Street, Taunton (Priorswood), Wellington (Poole), Williton and Yeovil.  Commercial users will need to comply with the permit scheme regulations regarding vehicle size, use of trailers and timing of access, with the exception of Highbridge and Taunton (see below).
•    Do commercial users require a permit? – No. Commercial/business waste can be taken to the 10 Somerset sites licenced to take commercial waste and payment made to dispose of their waste. This will be a commercial transaction with Viridor and commercial users will need to comply with the permit scheme regulations regarding vehicle size, use of trailers and timing of access, at all 10 business sites with the exception of Highbridge and Taunton (Priorswood) (see below). All waste brought to site under this exemption MUST be paid for to dispose of. Under no circumstances will vehicles bringing waste under this exemption be able to deposit household/domestic waste.
See Business Recycling Sites.
Back to Q&As,

Concessionary waste permits
•    My organisation has an authorised SWP concessionary waste disposal permit.  Will I have to comply with the van and trailer permit scheme? Organisations already in receipt of the SWP concessionary waste permits for recycling centre and landfill disposal have been contacted separately in advance of the scheme and will be on renewal of their concessionary disposal permit.
Back to Q&As


How Somerset’s new measures were introduced and updated

The review that led Somerset Waste Board (councillors from Somerset’s county and five district councils) to agree on the new measures was prompted and informed by many sources.

These included: site customers’ feedback; daily site operations reviews; reports from sites contractor Viridor; thorough monitoring of site health and safety; and a survey of 39 other local authorities in this region and across the country.

An independent customer survey was commissioned in late 2015, which showed an 87% satisfaction rating with recycling sites, but a majority of site users wanting action on large vehicles and out-of-county visitors.

That review process established the following action priorities:

  • Reduce vehicle and trailer unloading times to ensure that all Somerset residents have as swift and smooth access as possible
  • Cut congestion and costs from non-paying out-of-county vehicles using our sites as a result of their own county’s restrictions
  • Unblock access, enhance site safety and minimise risks posed by the largest and least manoeuvrable vehicles and trailers
  • Stop Somerset residents being forced to pay for waste taken to sites by unlawful commercial users

Our research tells us that significant numbers of non-Somerset residents with vans and trailers use Somerset sites. All neighbouring councils have restrictions that, in effect, encourage their residents to use our sites while Somerset residents cannot access theirs in the same manner.

Somerset household numbers continue to increase and site visits have risen from around 1.1 million in 2011/12 to almost 1.6 million in 2015/16. The result is growing congestion at all Somerset sites that must be addressed to help all residents have an efficient, easy and low-risk visit whenever they deposit household waste.

The current budget difficulties experienced by most local authorities, including Somerset, mean that there is no prospect to aid congestion through adding hours back in to the opening times at our recycling sites.

Until 3 October 2016, no restrictions existed – except those essential for safety – on the vehicles, trailers or combinations of both that coul access recycling sites. And no restrictions existed on where the recycling site user lived, even though only Somerset residents pay for the recycling sites in their council tax, of which waste services cost around £172 a year.

Following 3 October 2016, and a full review of the system that brought changes from 30 June 2017, the new measures:

  • Require Somerset residents to have a permit for any van, pick-up, campervan, minibus or trailer entering a Somerset recycling site.
  • To reduce unloading times, limit the size of vans and trailers eligible for a permit.
  • Stop residents or businesses from outside Somerset seeking a permit to deposit waste without paying.

Although the new measures gave eligible vans, pick-ups, campervans, minibuses and trailers separate permits, no van, pick-up, campervan or minibus can be used in conjunction with a trailer.

Until the permit scheme began, van-trailer combinations took the space of several vehicles, particularly those with double axles or drop-down ramps, such as horseboxes or box trailers, and the size, poor sight lines and limited manoeuvrability of larger vehicles with trailers added to safety concerns.

By carrying much more and taking far longer to unload – up to an hour in some instances – even if assisted by site staff, vans, pick-ups, campervans and minibuses with trailers denied that limited space and the often vital supportive help of staff to other residents.

Again to reduce congestion, business users who pay their way to deposit trade waste are required to observe the same new measures as residents, but do not need to apply for a permit. These measures include access times and vehicle limitations at eight of the 10 business sites they use, and steps are taken to ensure residents are not delayed at the remaining two sites.

Permits last until 30 September 2019 and are free to all who comply with the terms and conditions. Each Somerset household can have one permit for a specific van, campervan, minibus or pick-up, including Land Rover pick-up, and one trailer permit with details of two towing cars (not vans, campervans, minibuses or pick-ups, as they can no longer bring in a trailer to any Somerset recycling site).

Permits cannot be transferred or altered; any changes require a new application and the old permit to be destroyed. Applications can be made on the Somerset Waste Partnership website at, or if personal online access is not possible, with free support at any of Somerset’s 34 libraries.

While we cannot eliminate congestion altogether and delays will happen from time to time, the new measures are making a significant and positive contribution to improve services, enhance safety and reduce costs while controlling congestion.

The overwhelming majority of users bring in household waste using a car without a trailer, including estates, 4x4s, people carriers and SUVs, and so need no permit.