Loading zone rules: Everything you need to know
It wouldn’t be the full Australian urban driving experience if you didn’t have to carefully consider a few poorly labelled signs before deciding whether it’s safe to park or stop there.
One sign of particular contention is the loading zone. While ‘No parking’, ‘No stopping’, 'Bus lane' and 'Taxi zone' signs are fairly straightforward, loading zones are provided without further instruction or clarification. Thankfully, loading zone signs at least look the same in every state.
So, what do they mean, who can park in them, and what else should you know?
What is a loading zone?
A loading zone is a restricted stopping or parking area reserved for commercial vehicles to load or unload goods temporarily. There is no use harboring resent for your local loading zone, as many commercial operators rely on the existence of these zones to stop legally and make deliveries in heavily built-up areas.
Can you park in a loading zone?
Loading zone rules and conditions vary slightly by state and territory. See below for the loading zone rules in your state, we've clarified them as much as we can, but if in doubt don't take the risk.
It's best practice to either not use a loading zone or contact your city's government for clarification on whether your vehicle is permitted to stop if you need to use a zone but are still unsure.
In Victoria, only trucks, vans, utes or other vehicles “constructed principally for carrying loads” are allowed to make use of loading zones.
Taxis, buses or passenger vehicles (including wagons) are allowed to stop in Victorian loading zones, only for the purposes of picking up or dropping off passengers. They are not permitted to stand (wait) or park in loading zones at any time.
Vehicles with a disability permit are forbidden from parking in loading zones in Victoria.
Passenger cars, such as wagons, are allowed to use a loading zone only if they have a business name or the word “courier” permanently affixed to the outside of the vehicle which “can be read from a distance of five meters”. Temporary stickers or signs placed on the roof or windows are not acceptable.
The default time limit for a loading zone in Victoria is 30 minutes unless otherwise specified on the sign.
The fine for “unlawful parking” in Victoria is $110.12.
In NSW “only drivers of vehicles principally constructed for carrying goods may park their vehicle in a loading zone”.
This includes vans, trucks, utes and other commercial vehicles, which are allowed to park for 30 minutes unless otherwise signed.
Station wagons or three-wheeled goods vehicles are permitted to park in loading zones, but only for a maximum time of 15 minutes.
Any other passenger vehicle is allowed to stop in a loading zone only for the purposes of picking up or dropping off passengers. Loading zones in NSW are often subject to time conditions, outside of which they should be treated as a normal parking area unless otherwise signed.
Disability permit holders are not permitted to stand or park a vehicle in a loading zone in NSW.
The fine for violating loading zone rules in NSW is currently set at $187.
In Queensland, loading zone rules are slightly more lenient.
Buses, trucks or “commercial vehicles” – vehicles which are “constructed, fitted or equipped for the carriage of goods” can stop for up to 30 minutes in a loading zone.
Other types of vehicles, including wagons and sedans are allowed to use loading zones in Queensland if “the back seats and seat belts have been removed” or, where those vehicles have obtained a Commercial Vehicle Permit.
Passenger vehicles are allowed to stand in loading zones (but not park) for no more than two minutes when picking up or dropping off passengers, or no more than five minutes if they are picking up or dropping off disabled passengers.
Taxis and limousines are allowed to stand in loading zones only for the purposes of picking up or dropping off passengers.
All “stopping in a loading zone” offences in QLD carry a $130 fine.
Only trucks, service vehicles or public buses are permitted to use loading zones in Tasmania, with a maximum time limit of 30 minutes, unless otherwise signed.
Other vehicles, including sedans, hatchbacks and wagons are permitted to use loading zones in Tasmania where the vehicle has the name and street address of its registered operator (read: business) permanently displayed on the left- or right-hand side of the vehicle. Magnetic or other temporary decals do not count.
Vehicles are not allowed to stop in loading zones for the purposes of picking up or dropping off.
The fine for stopping in a loading zone where not permitted, or exceeding time in a loading zone in Tasmania is $81.50.
In Canberra and the rest of the Australian Capital Territory, a motorist can only stop in a loading zone if they are “driving a vehicle primarily designed for carrying goods”. The maximum time, unless otherwise signed is 30 minutes for these vehicles.
The ACT government considers trucks, commercial vans and utes to be appropriate for loading zones. Station wagons, people movers and “4WDs” are specifically forbidden.
Those vehicles as well as sedans and hatches can park in a loading zone if they purchase a permit from the ACT government.
Only buses or taxis are permitted to pick up and drop off in a loading zone in the ACT. Mobility permits do not permit the holder to use a loading zone for any reason.
The fine for violating loading zone rules in the ACT is $153.
Loading zones in the Northern Territory are to be used by “goods vehicles” only. These include trucks, utes and commercial vans. These vehicles can stay for a maximum time of 30 minutes
Sedans, station wagons or any other body type are not permitted to use loading zones, unless they purchase a permit from the NT government.
Disability permit holders are not exempted from loading zone rules.
The fine for “stopping where prohibited” in the Northern Territory is $50.
In South Australia, vehicles that can use a loading zone are defined as commercial vehicles – trucks of any size, panel vans and utes.
Non-commercial vehicles, including wagons and sedans are permitted to stop in a loading zone if the vehicle is picking up or dropping off goods that are “difficult to handle because of their size”, although the maximum time they are allowed to stay is 10 minutes regardless of what the sign says.
Vehicles are classified by their bodytype as register with Services SA. Therefore, even if a business or individual register a wagon as a commercial vehicle, the same rules apply to it as though it were a passenger car.
Only taxis and public buses are permitted to pick up or drop off in loading zones in SA.
Some loading zone signs in SA state ‘commercial vehicles only’ in which case no other vehicle type is permitted to stop there. Taxis and Buses are prohibited from dropping off or picking up in commercial vehicle only zones.
The fine for illegally stopping in a loading zone or staying in a loading zone longer than the permitted time in SA is $129.
Loading zone regulations are specific to local council areas in Western Australia, so if in doubt, it’s probably best practice not to use a loading zone in the state.
The law states that only “commercial” vehicles can park in a loading zone, provided that a person is continuously loading or unloading goods into that vehicle. A commercial vehicle is defined as a vehicle that is “constructed adapted or fitted for the conveyance of goods and used primarily for the transporting of goods.”
Interestingly, in the City of Perth, the definition of commercial vehicles specifically excludes vehicles constructed “for the transportation of materials used in any trade, business, industry or any other work” – meaning no utes, wagons or other vehicles that aren’t delivery vans or light trucks.
Vehicles with a disability permit are forbidden from parking in loading zones in WA.
Loading zones have a maximum stay time of 30 minutes unless otherwise signed in WA, and the fine for illegally parking or stopping in a loading zone is $100. Permits for non-commercial vehicles can be purchased from the local government of each city.
In all states motorcycles are considered non-commercial vehicles (and thus prohibited from parking in loading zones) unless they have a permit. This includes motorcycles carrying delivery-service branding.
Make sure you contact your state or city’s government for permit costs and restrictions that might apply.