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Road signs and markings

Useful advice and information on road signs and markings in Dorset.

Report a problem with road signs and markings

General information

Road markings and traffic signs are produced and installed to specific standards which Dorset County Council is obliged to follow. Any sign erected and placed within the boundary of the highway without consent is an unauthorised sign and could be removed.

We have a policy to only install signing to a limit needed for safety as using too many signs tends to clutter the highway.

Department for Transport: "Traffic signs, signals, and road markings are the key method for communicating with the road user and need to be simple and concise so as to be easily understood.

Proper use of signs is vital to their effectiveness in terms of guiding or regulating. Over-provision of signs can have a detrimental impact on the environment and can dilute more important messages if they result in information overload for drivers."

See also:

Signing and markings


Many local businesses use A-boards to advertise their goods and services. Dorset County Council's  new A-boards policy (pdf, 78kb) (opens in a new window) will ensure a consistent approach across the county and will support the local economy by helping companies to advertise their business and services.

Guidance has been written to ensure businesses can meet the policy requirements (pdf, 23kb) (opens in a new window) and are aware of the enforcement action Dorset County Council can take if these are not adhered to.

Requirements include ensuring that A-boards:

  • are in a good condition and appear professionally made (proper sign writing, painting/printing) and do not contain offensive content
  • do not exceed a maximum height of 1.2m and width of 0.6m
  • must allow a minimum of 1.8m of free passage (increased to 3.5m in pedestrianised areas) when placed on the pavement and the position must be consistent on a day-to-day basis
  • do not impede vehicular and/or emergency access or impede sight lines
  • do not accumulate and result in the pavement not being easily accessible, in this case all A-boards must be removed until agreement is reached as to what is acceptable

Access protection markings

Single white lines painted on the tarmac in front of dropped kerbs, commonly at driveways and crossing points.

Direction signing

We can advise on, investigate, manufacture and install directional signing towards different destinations and facilities.  We decide on a case-by-case basis as to whether establishments qualify for signing, depending on the service provided and its particular location.

Brown tourism signs

View charges and the application process for brown tourism signs.

Community signs

We support community facilities in Dorset by authorising the installation of suitable signs that guide those wishing to visit an approved facility via the most appropriate route. These signs are not advertisements.

Approved facilities include schools which are also used for community purposes, doctor surgeries / medical centres, churches / places of worship, village halls, police and fire stations and other public buildings.

Charges and cost

Stage 1: Application - £50

Stage 2: Supply of signs - at cost + 10% for administration

Stage 3: Ongoing maintenance - 10% of stage 2 costs + 10% administration fee

What to do

We will contact you in due course through processing the application.

Roundabout sponsorship

See information about roundabout sponsorship.

Street name signs

Requests for new street name signs are managed by your local district or borough council

Temporary event direction signs

Organisers of any temporary event lasting up to seven days and expected to attract more than 500 people per day must apply to Dorset County Council for temporary event direction signs.

The  Temporary Event Direction Signs Policy (pdf, 373kb) (opens in a new window) sets out which events and what signs do and do not need organisers to complete an event signs application form.

Guidance (pdf, 22kb) (opens in a new window) is also available, which covers where and when signs should be placed on the highway and the enforcement action Dorset County Council can take should signs cause an obstruction and/or a danger to highway users.

Traffic safety mirrors

It is the responsibility of the land/property owner to ensure good visibility from their private access onto the public highway. After all reasonable alternative works have been carried out to improve visibility, such as cutting back vegetation, then placing a visibility or safety mirror on private land is an option with the permission of the land owner. Dorset County Council do not approve mirrors on the highway.

Enquire about traffic mirrors

Unauthorised signs

Unauthorised signs will not be allowed on the highway and can be removed without notice by Dorset County Council and stored.

The  Unauthorised Signs Policy (pdf, 217kb) (opens in a new window) sets out how signs will be removed.

The policy makes provision for signs associated with small-scale charity events. Although these would still be classified as unauthorised, highways officers will use their discretion not to enforce as long as the signs do not create a danger to highway users, are erected no more than two weeks before the event and are removed within 48 hours of the event finishing.  The policy guidance states when signs can be removed (pdf, 20kb) (opens in a new window), including when:

  • the sign is placed within 10 metres of a junction
  • the sign is larger than 0.5 metres squared
  • the sign is erected within 0.5 metres of the carriageway, on a central reservation, on a roundabout or within a pedestrian refuge
  • the sign is placed on or near a bend or obstructs vision for highway users
  • the sign is considered to be a nuisance or a danger to highway users by the highways officer

Any unauthorised signs which are removed from the highway and subsequently stored by Dorset Highway Operations incur a fee of £1 per sign per day.

Report illegal signage

Report and track road issues and enquiries

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