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Road opening licence

Important notice

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:

Do I 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, in the name of the contractor carrying out the works. It is a criminal offence to do this without a 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 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. You will need a separate licence if you are installing, adjusting, removing or altering any apparatus within the area of highway modification and you will still need to apply for road space from our Streetworks team to carry out the works. Please see our Traffic Management Permit Scheme page for further details.

What type of licence do I need?

There are two types of licence we can grant for the 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. You need this even if you have a Section 278 agreement.

Please take time to read the Guidance Notes carefully. Following them will assist in us processing 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 makes changes or improvements to the highways, which include verge, footway and carriageway. Please do not apply for a Section 184 licence if you have a Section 278 agreement already.

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 I 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 checks to ensure the dates requested are suitable.

Section 184 Road Opening Licence online application form

If you require a temporary road closure, we require that you submit the relevant closure application eight weeks in advance and reference this on your application. We will not be able to process your request without this.

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How much does the licence cost?

A Licence fee of £320 is payable for both Section 50 and Section 184 Licences. We may undertake inspections of works at various times and costs for this are included in the Licence fee.

As the Highway Authority we are required to keep a register of certain types of works on the highway. The Street Works (Registration Fees) (Regulations) 1999, SI 1999 No. 1048 provides for the Highway Authority to make a charge of £21.20 to transcribe information into this register. When applying for a Section 50 Licence, please add £21.20 to the Licence fee of £320 to give a total of £341.20

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 sizeUnder 1.5 metre depth1.5 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 guarantee periods reset.

What documentation and information is required to support an application?

  • A plan clearly showing the location of works.
  • Engineering details, including the expected size of the excavation (length, width and depth).
  • Traffic management layout plan.
  • 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 - e.g. Water Industries S106 agreement.

When you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation e-mail which will further detail the above requirements and where to send them. Please only send 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 I 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