Road opening licence

Surrey County Council operate a Lane Rental Scheme. If you are proposing to work on the Lane Rental network, please submit your application as normal but please do not submit a Traffic Management proposal. Our Network Coordination team will contact you to discuss how best traffic disruption can be avoided whilst your works are in progress. Please be aware you can be charged up to £2,500 per day when working on a Lane Rental designated road.

Please see Surrey Highways Lane Rental Network for all of the roads included in the scheme.

Following the court ruling in the case brought between Calor Gas Limited and Norfolk County Council (CO/3161/2018) and in accordance with the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 Schedule 3, section 9, Surrey County Council will not issue s50 Street Works Licences for the installation of apparatus that "runs along the line of the street".

If in doubt please contact us via email:

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Do you need a licence to open the public highway?

A private company or individual wishing to open (excavate) the public highway must have the appropriate licence from us. It is a criminal offence to carry out works on the public highway without a valid licence.

Anyone excavating or working on the highway must have suitable valid accreditation under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA) for the type of work they are carrying out and be on the Street Works Qualifications Register.

If you have a Section 278 agreement already in place, you do not require a separate licence for the highway modification works but you will need to apply for road space from our Street Works Team to be able to carry out the works. Please see our Traffic Management Permit Scheme page for further details. You will need a separate licence if you are installing, adjusting, removing or altering any apparatus with the area subject to the S278 agreement.

What type of licence do you need?

There are two types of licence we can grant for opening the public highway:

Section 50 Street Works Licence – This is a licence granted under Section 50 of NRSWA and is needed when a person or organisation wishes to place, or to retain, apparatus in the street, and thereafter to inspect, maintain, adjust, repair, alter or renew the apparatus, change its position or remove it. The street meaning highway maintainable at the public expense, commonly known as adopted highway and may include carriageway, footway and verge.

If on completion of the works the apparatus is to be adopted by a Statutory Undertaker then the licence application should be in the name of the works promoter. If we agree for un-adopted apparatus to be placed in the highway the licence application should be in the name of the main beneficiary of the apparatus who will then (or their successor/s) be responsible for the apparatus perpetuity.

Please take time to read the guidance notes carefully. Following them will enable us to process your application without undue delay.

Please note we also licence trial hole activities under this type of licence.

Section 184 Licence: This is needed when a person or organisation wishes to make temporary changes to the highway layout, this includes verge, footway and carriageway, and where the highway layout will be returned to its original layout at the end of the period.

Where the intended changes are to be permanent and/or are development related highway works you will need to apply for a Section 278 agreement. Further information on Section 278 agreements can be found on our delivery of development highway works webpage.

If a ditch or stream, highway trees or street furniture such as lamp columns or road signs are located within the area of the works, then please contact us to discuss your licence before making any application so we can advise on the process that needs to be followed.

What are the terms and conditions?

By making your s50/s184 licence application you are agreeing to abide by our terms and conditions. Please read them thoroughly.

How do you apply for a licence?

Section 50 Street Works License online application form

We need at least 30 working days notice between the date we receive a complete set of the documentation required and the date you wish to start work. This gives us time to carry out the necessary documentation checks and to ensure the dates requested are available.

Section 184 Road Opening Licence online application form

If you require a temporary road closure to carry out either of the above type of works, we require that you submit the relevant closure application at least twelve weeks in advance of the date of your planned works and reference this on your application. We will not be able to process your request without this.

Please visit our Temporary road closures web page for more information.

How much does the licence cost?

Licence fee

A licence fee of £417 is payable for a Section 184 licence.

A Licence fee of £780 is payable for a Section 50 Licence.

We may undertake inspections of works at various times and costs for this are included in these licence fees.


We also require a payment of a bond which we hold until the end of the guarantee period (two or three years depending in depth of the excavation) when, provided that the works meet the standards required by the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and no other monies are outstanding, we will refund in full.

Excavation size Under 1.5 metre depth 1.5 metre and over depth
Less than 10 sq. metres £865 £1,297
10.1 to 15 sq. m £1,585 £2,377
15.1 to 20 sq. m £2,207 £3,310
20.1 to 25 sq. m £2,871 £4,306

For works where the area is over 25 square metres, please contact us via the e-mail address with the length, width and depth of the proposed excavation so that we can advise of the bond value required.

Providing all the performance requirements of the New Roads & Street Works Act 1991(NRSWA) have been fully complied with, there will be no further charges in connection with these works.

Inspections will be carried out against the standards defined in the Specification for Reinstatement of Openings in the Highway (SROH) and the DfT publication Safety at Street Works and Road Works (The Red Book). Should works be found to be defective, each additional inspection required to check satisfactory repair will be charged at £48 each and the guarantee period may be reset.

Additional fees

If a bus stop suspension is also required, you will need to apply and pay the appropriate fees. For more information on fees and how to apply, please see our Application for temporary bus stop suspension webpage.

What documentation and information is required to support an application?

  • A local map of the area showing the location of works.
  • Engineering details, including the expected size of the excavation (length, width and depth).
  • Traffic management layout plan.(Please do not send this if you are working on the Lane Rental Network)
  • Planning permission granted from the appropriate district or borough council, where applicable.
  • Public liability insurance details for a minimum value of £10 million valid for the period of works.
  • NRSWA accreditation for supervisor in the form of a copy of the front and back of SWQR card.
  • NRSWA accreditation for operative in the form of a copy of the front and back of SWQR card.
  • Connection approval from the relevant Statutory Undertaker, for example Water Industries S106 agreement.

Please only submit this form when you have a complete set of the documentation required. We will not start processing your application until we have received a full set of documentation.

Sending incomplete documentation will slow the processing of your application.

What if you have any queries, concerns or complaints?

If you have queries about the licence, please contact us.

If you have any concerns about the location or safety of materials on the public highway, please report a highway problem to us.

Files available to download

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