Last updated:

19th July 2023

Section 171 licence

If you are breaking up the highway

Section 171 

You will need a Section 171 licence if your works involve the breaking up of the highway, such as installing or extending a vehicle access or if you need to place traffic management on the highway. You must ensure all planning conditions are met as a Section 171 licence does not overrule any planning constraints.

All applications must be submitted in accordance with the notice periods set out in the New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991 (NRSWA) Code of Practice. If you plan to close or restrict a road, you also need to apply for a temporary traffic regulation order or restriction notice. You need to apply at least 12 weeks before the proposed start date of the works. It is an offence, under section 171 of the Highways Act 1980, to excavate the highway before the permitted date.

If you are applying for a Section 171 to construct a dropped kerb, you will need permission from the dropped kerb team first. They will then instruct you to apply for a S171 Licence.

If your works are related to Section 278, 38 or Minor Works Agreement, this needs to be stated in the works description along with the associate Wokingham Borough Council Officer and reference number. Likewise, if the Licence is required for a new build, please provide the Building Regulations Notice and Full Planning Reference number.

If anything changes during your works, it is your responsibility to keep us informed. This is particularly important if your works are likely to overrun the scheduled end date.

Who can apply

A company or contractor will apply for permission to excavate the highway, often on behalf of a land or property owner. This is because it is the applicant who will be required to comply with and accept the licence conditions.


The cost of a Section 171 licence is £521.30.

Payment will be requested once road space is confirmed.

Payment is made via our online weblink or an invoice can be issued on request.

How to apply

You can apply online for a Section 171 licence. Before you apply you should read our terms and guidance [PDF document]. During the application process you will need to provide:

  • Traffic Management Plan
  • Google Maps Image highlighting works location 
  • Scanned copy of a valid public liability insurance certificate for a minimum of £10 million
  • Scanned colour copies of the Supervisors and Operatives SWQR card, front and back

Apply for S171

Give website feedback