Are quad bikes illegal in the UK?

Are quad bikes legal in the uk

So, are quad bikes legal in the UK or not? There seems to be some confusion about this. It can be confusing about if quad bikes were illegal or not.

So are quad bikes actually legal in the United Kingdom? Quad bikes are legal in the United Kingdom. If it is to be used on road, the quad bike or ATV must be registered, taxed, insured and have a valid MOT.  The driver must hold a full car licence (category B or B1). Agricultural ATVs do not require a MOT, but still must be registered and insured. Make sure you understand what is required before driving an ATV or a quad bike.

Researching in the legal info about quad bikes

But in London, there are more and more owners of quad bikes on the road. I find it quite hilarious. And to be honest, I was not sure about quad bikes in a major city anyway. So I decided to do some digging, because I have always like quad bikes and riding them, so I thought, let me know more about using quad bikes in the UK, especially in places like London. What are the dos and don’ts.

I am also going to cover some related questions to do with driving a quad bike or an ATV in the UK.  Here are some of the topics that I will cover:

  • The difference between a quad bike, ATV and buggy?
  • Tax and MOT
  • Registration number plate
  • Do you need insurance
  • Do you need a helmet
  • Can children drive a quad bike or ATV
  • Where can you use it
  • Do you have to register it
Quad bike in Central London

What is a quad bike?

So let’s start with the basics shall we? A quad is a motorised vehicle with four wheels, hence the word ‘quad’. It has a maximum weight of 400kg, and a maximum power of 15kW.

If it’s intended to be used as a goods carrier, the maximum weight rises to 550kg. A “light quadricycle” is a four-wheeled vehicle with a maximum unladen weight of 350kg. It has a maximum spark ignition capacity of 50cc, or a maximum power of 4kW with maximum design speed of 45kph.

Now I also discovered where you need to register your quad bike.

To register a quad bike and get Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval it must either:

  1. Comply with European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA).
  2. UK National Type Approval (Small Series).
  3. UK Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval Scheme (MSVA).
  4. Have proof of compliance with a Certificate of Conformity (CoC).

But what is an ATV then?

Quad bikes are types of ATVs – All-Terrain Vehicles. But this category also includes other similar vehicles, like 3 wheelers, so it’s not just quad bikes when using the term ATVs. So sometimes we have to be careful with the terminology.

An All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is a motorised vehicle, designed to travel on four low-pressure tyres over ‘unpaved’ surfaces.

What’s the difference between a quad bike, ATV and buggy?

The difference between a quad bike and a Buggie.

Well, it depends who is asking, because when it comes to being on the road, in the eyes of the law, there is no difference really. They are all classed as Private Light Goods (PLG) vehicles. The same as around 90% of the licenced vehicles on roads in the UK.

Buggies are known as vehicles with “side by side” seating designed for off-road use and they also come with roll cages. But some ATVs do also fall into this category.

Quads are classed as light agricultural vehicles. But there is a tax issue and they don’t have provisions, such as a seat for passengers.

So what about quad bars or roll cages?

Quad bars and roll cages are identified as the same thing.

A Quadbar is an unobtrusive, structure part that can be fixed on the quad bike (ATV) behind the rider. It is designed to counter some of the risks associated with rollovers.

Roll cages or quad bars, they are not required by law on a private & lights goods vehicle (PLG).

Some larger side-by-sides will have full roll cage and can be fitted with a roll-over protection system (ROPS) where it can rollover.

If a quad bike is used in forestry, it will need to be fitted with rollover protective structures and seat belts.

There actually is an EU Directive that stipulates the same for utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), but of a particular specification.

Do I need a driving licence to ride a quad or ATV?

Read the article “How to get a quad bike license” article here for this answer.

What fuel do quad bikes take?

The type of petrol used in a quad bike has nothing to do if quad bikes are legal in the UK or not.

Now most quad bikes or ATVs actually run on standard unleaded fuel. Some agricultural ATVs that were built with diesel motors and they allow the use of “red” agricultural diesel.

Quad bikes will either run on unleaded or unleaded fuel, with two-stroke oil on a two-stroke engine.

If you want to know you actually mix 2 stroke fuel for a quad bike or ATV, then you need to read the article “How do you mix 2 stroke fuel for a quad?” here.


Taxing a quad bike to make it legal

Do I have to tax my quad bike or ATV?

Yes, because ATVs and quad bikes are normal vehicles, you will have to tax it if you want to ride it on the road.

A quad bike can be taxed as either a ‘limited use vehicle’ or an ‘agricultural vehicle’.

This does depend on how you intend to use it.

No tax is required for agriculture, horticulture or forestry purposes.

An ATV intended for road use is classed as a private or light goods vehicle (PLG) and is subject to tax.

Does my quad bike or ATV need a MOT?

Well it depends, in most cases, yes.

But only if you want to ride on the road, then yes you will need a V5C registration certificate, MOT, tax and insurance.

If you plan on riding only off-road on private land, you don’t need an MOT.

If your vehicle is registered for agricultural, horticultural or forestry use, it doesn’t need an MOT or tax.

But it must be road registered, insured and licensed for road use if it’s more than three years old.

Does I need a registration plate for my quad bike or ATV?

Again, it depends.

If you want to ride it on the road then you will need a registration number plate displayed at the front and rear of the vehicle and therefore a V5C registration certificate (logbook) from the DVLA.

If you plan on riding only off-road on private land, you don’t need a registration plate.

Are quad bikes illegal in the UK?

Do I need insurance to ride a quad bike or ATV?

Simply, Yes, (in most cases).

If you are riding on the public highway, which includes green lanes as well. Then you legally require at least third party insurance.

If you are on private land, you don’t need insurance.

However, if you are riding on public roads to get to private land, you will need insurance.

So Where can I ride my quad bike or ATV?

This may be obvious since, well it does to me as I see them everywhere.

If your quad bike or ATV is road registered, insured, taxed and has an MOT certificate and you have a full car licence (category B or B1), you can ride on public highways basically.

You can also ride it on roads that are classified as “Public Right of Way” or byways.

These are called green lanes, but also also known as BOATs (Byway Open to All Traffic), Unclassified County Roads, white roads or G roads.

But there are some places where you cannot ride your quad bike or ATV.

If it isn’t road registered, then you are restricted to riding your ATV “off road” (i.e. on privately owned land only.

You must have permission from the landowner).

Now, it is not rocket science to know that you will need permission from the landowner to ride on their land.

Otherwise you can be accused of trespass and your vehicle can be impounded by the police.

If you have a quad bike and you are thinking about riding on land that is privately owned but may be open to the public, like a forest.

You still have to seek permission from the land owner and check with the local authorities about any other restrictions that may apply.

Do I need a helmet or protective clothing to ride a quad bike or ATV?

Legally speaking, you do not need to wear a helmet. Not even on the public highway.

But there are recommendations that you do, just for your own safety.

The same with protective clothing. There is no legal requirement, but there are recommendations advising that you wear protective clothing along with a helmet.

Which makes sense according to what I see in London. Out of London I see people with helmets, but inner London… a different story.

But as the saying goes… Better safe than sorry.


Are quad bikes illegal in the UK?

How old do you have to be to ride a quad bike or ATV?

This actually depends on the type of quad bike and the age of the child.

Generally speaking, on the road you can ride a quad bike or an ATV as soon as you hold a full driving licence (category B or B1), as stated by law, which is 17 years old.

But regarding off-road and on private land, there is no age restriction. 

But you need to be careful because this does not mean any child of any age can ride any of these vehicles types.

Other regulations apply that limit the speed of the ATV and age of its rider.

Can children ride quad bikes and ATVs?

So can children ride quad bikes and ATVs? Well again it depends If you are a 17-year old and to hold a full driver’s licence in the UK.

Now although this is not a legal requirement, I strongly advise that a child have proper instruction and training and practice beforehand.

See my article here on quad bike gear for children to help keep them safe.

If you think about it, it is almost the same as letting your child drive your car without any instruction.

Children should ride their quad bike on that private land if the ATV is designed for them.

To make sure your quad bike or ATV is designed for that child please check with the manufacturer first and that they can proper maintain self-control

Point 4 of the All-Terrain Motor Vehicles (Safety) Regulations 1989 states that for persons 12 and under:

  • Remember, under no circumstances should anyone supply a regulated vehicle with four wheels, that is intended for someone under the age of 12. Even if its maximum speed is greater than 15 mph.
  • Neither should a vehicle be supplied that is fitted with a regulator that doesn’t limit the top speed to 10mph.

It also states that it should be very clear and have a very clear label that says this ATV or quad bike is not suitable for a child under 12 years of age.

The Health and Safety Executive also advises:

  • Never carry a child as a passenger. It is illegal and will reduce your ability to control the ATV.
  • Children under 13 years old are prohibited from using an ATV for work. Over-13s should only ride ATVs of an appropriate size and power after formal training on a low-power ATV.
  • Children under 16 years old are prohibited from using most adult-sized machines. Check and adhere to the manufacturer’s minimum age recommendations for your ATV; this information may be displayed on the machine and in operator manuals. Similar restrictions apply to side-by-side machines.
  • The ratio of a child’s weight to that of the ATV is significant, as weight transfer is the key to safe handling.
  • In the event of an overturn, a child may be crushed by the weight of an adult-size.

The government has also set out minimum ages to drive agricultural vehicles.

This might apply depending on who is doing the riding and where.

Can I ride my quad bike or ATV to work?

Now whether or not you can ride your quad bike or ATV to work, well legally it depends. As long as you have a full car driving licence category B or be one in the UK and the vehicle is Road registered.

The vehicle is insured and taxed and has an MOT it also must have front and rear licence plate.

It should also have lights the same as any form of vehicle on road.

You do not need MOT if you are using an agricultural ATV or quad bike to get to work (assuming it is private land).

When a quad bike is registered and licensed for road use it also has to have a number plate and you also need to have insurance to ride it, at least third party insurance cover.

Your quad bike needs different lights if you are to drive on the road after dark.

Driving a quad bike to work

You work place may indeed supply company vehicles, including a quad bike. They should give you adequate training to use the quad bike or ATV properly and safely.

This is in accordance to the provisional provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998 on the Health and Safety Executive website.


Can I use my quad bike or ATV for green laning?

Basically speaking, yes. 

Since quad bikes are legal in the UK (as long as it adheres to the requirements). You can use quad bikes or ATVs for green laning.

In the UK a green lane is a type of Road which is usually an unmetalled or unpaved rural route. 

In the UK green lanes tend to be classified as public right of way. But they don’t look like  normal roads, it may look like a dirty road or dirty track. Sometimes they are known as BOATs (Byway open to all traffic), classified County roads, white roads or G roads. 

You still need to have full car driving licence category B and B1 and the quad bike ATV has to be registered, insured, taxed and have a valid MOT.

Can I convert my ATV for use on public roads?


You must convert it if you want to ride your quad bike or ATV legally on public roads in the UK.

The law states that, “Quad bikes must be approved, registered, taxed and have an MOT (if needed) to be used on the road. Most bikes can’t be used on the road because they don’t meet road safety standards.

Refer to the manufacturer of your quad bike to see if it has been approved for road use. If your bike hasn’t been approved but meets road safety standards you can apply for ‘type approval‘. This means that your quad bike or ATV must comply with the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) directive and have a certificate to prove so.

If it doesn’t have that certificate it must be inspected under the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval scheme.


Are quad bikes illegal in the UK?
Are quad bikes illegal in the UK?

How fast can a quad bike or ATV go?

The land speed record for a quad is 196.19mph, which is a bit faster than most quads go! As with cars, there are fast and slow quad bikes.

It just depends on how the manufacturer has designed the vehicle and what it is targeted to do.

Most quads that are road registered are capable of 50 mph, however some agricultural vehicles are speed restricted depending on their lights.

However fast, you’ll need to stick to the appropriate speed limit for the road you’re on.

Are quad bike and ATVs exempt from parking fines and congestion charges in the UK?

No, they are not exempt from congestion charges or parking fines unfortunately. They are same the same as a normal car. So you definitely need to pay any fines, penalties or charges that may be incurred.

Can I hire a quad or ATV?

Yes, in the UK there so many off-road centers that offer quad bike or ATV experience days. Hiring a quad bike is ideal for children as an introduction before purchasing one for them.

The best thing I would recommend is to pop to your local quad bike dealership and see who which off-road center they recommend in your local area.

Are quad bikes illegal in the UK?

Do I need to register my quad bike and ATV with DVLA?

Using a quad bike or ATV on public roads it will need to be taxed. It must have MOT, front and rear number plates.

It must be registered with the DVLA to get a registration number. You’ll also need insurance and lights if you want to use it after dark.

If you are not planning on taking it on public roads, then there is no legal need to register it with DVLA.

Theft is an issue with quad bikes and you should register your quad bike with the “off-road register”, which improves the chances of it being returned should it get stolen.

If you plan on using your quad for forestry, horticulture or agriculture work, you’ll need to register it as a “light agricultural vehicle”.

But you don’t need an MOT.

What is the off-road register?

The DVLA set up a scheme called the off-road register.

This is a registry of all off-road vehicles which includes quads, ATVs, motorcycles, construction and plant machinery in order to improve detection rates in theft.

It is highly recommended, as quad bikes are commonly known to be targets of theft  over parts of the UK.

To join you need to fill in an “Application for a first tax disc and registration of a used motor vehicle” (V55/5).

You must also sign a declaration that the vehicle won’t be used on the public roads.

The service is free and will take around four weeks to receive a V5C registration certificate.

For UK government guidelines, click here.

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