Are Electric Scooters Legal?

Electric scooters, or e-scooters, are an up-and-coming mode of transport, but there’s a lot of uncertainty around when and where they can legally be used. With government-backed rental trials taking place across the country, we thought it was a good time to recap the rules as they stand right now.

Are electric scooters legal in the UK?

Yes, electric scooters are legal to own in the UK. However, there are lots of restrictions surrounding where they can be used.

Where can electric scooters be used?

Currently, electric scooters can only be used on private land with the landowner’s permission. It is effectively illegal to use them on public roads, on pavements, in cycle lanes and in pedestrian-only areas.

Why are electric scooters currently illegal on roads and pavements?

Electric scooters are currently classed as ‘powered transporters’ by the government and fall under the same laws and regulations that apply to all motor vehicles.

This means that it’s illegal to use them on pavements, in cycle lanes and in pedestrian-only areas, and it would only be legal to use them on public roads if they could meet the same requirements as motor vehicles (e.g., in terms of insurance, tax, license, registration and vehicle construction), which in practice is virtually impossible.

The formulation of a law specifically covering electric scooters has been under discussion for some time. It looks like there may be some developments in this area in the near future, particularly with the rental trials currently taking place.

When will electric scooters become legal on roads and pavements?

Electric scooter rental trials have been underway in a number of areas across the UK since summer 2020. Local councils have been working with rental providers to test the viability of electric scooters as a safe and effective mode of transport.

The trial period has been extended until the end of November 2022 so that the most comprehensive evidence possible can be gathered. The government is then likely to launch another consultation phase before any official changes to the law are proposed.

The UK government are running trials of rental operations through 2020-2022, in selected major cities. These pilot programs could potentially pave the way to a version of the UK in which e-scooters are generally legal for use on roads and cycle lanes, carefully regulated to promote safety, and socially accepted as a sustainable means of transport

Private electric scooters are now set to be legalised for use on public roads across the UK, under the upcoming Transport Bill introduced at the Queen's speech on 10th May. This means that over the course of the year ahead, UK government will work through the details of the regulations that will enable the legislation of e-scooters.

Where can you rent an electric scooter?

As of May 2021, electric scooter rental trials are running in the following areas:

  • Bournemouth and Poole
  • Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough)
  • Cambridge
  • Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
  • Copeland (Whitehaven)
  • Derby
  • Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford and Colchester)
  • Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Kent (Canterbury)
  • Liverpool
  • Milton Keynes
  • Newcastle
  • North and West Northamptonshire (Northampton, Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough)
  • North Devon (Barnstaple)
  • North Lincolnshire (Scunthorpe)
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Oxfordshire (Oxford)
  • Redditch
  • Rochdale
  • Salford
  • Slough
  • Solent (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton)
  • Somerset West (Taunton and Minehead)
  • South Somerset (Yeovil)
  • Staffordshire (Stafford and Newcastle-Under-Lyme)
  • Sunderland
  • Tees Valley (Hartlepool and Middlesbrough)
  • West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell)
  • West of England Combined Authority (Bristol and Bath)
  • York

 

You can find an up-to-date list of areas and more information about the rental schemes here.

Do you need a driver’s license for an electric scooter?

Yes. If you want to rent an electric scooter through one of the schemes mentioned above, then you’ll need to hold a valid full or provisional driving license that includes the ‘Q’ category entitlement. This category can be found on licenses for categories AM, A or B.

Do you need insurance for an electric scooter?

Yes, but this will be provided by your electric scooter rental operator.

Here at Halfords, we believe that the safe use of electric scooters has the potential to revolutionise the way we travel. Not only could it address the twin problems of pollution and congestion, but it could also combat the rising cost of living as an affordable way to commute without compromising speed. We’ve therefore launched a petition calling for the government to legalise the use of all electric scooters on public roads. You can find out more and sign the petition at the link below.

Sign our electric scooter petition

To learn more about the laws and regulations surrounding electric scooters, and the government’s current guidance, visit the Department for Transport link below.

Discover government guidance on electric scooters