What you need to know about the new merchandise stowage law

This month of May the new merchandise stowage law will come into force. The new regulation comes to fill the gap that until now existed regarding how to load the merchandise in the vehicles. And we have prepared this article so that you can find out what the main news will be and how it will affect logistics and the supply chain.

Changes to the new stowage law

The main novelty is that the future royal decree is much more specific, compared to the vagueness that has prevailed up to now. According to the previous decree, from 2003:

“The cargo transported in a vehicle, as well as the accessories used for its conditioning or protection, must be arranged and, if necessary, secured in such a way that they cannot:

Dragging, falling in whole or in part, or moving dangerously.
Compromise the stability of the vehicle.
Produce noise, dust or other nuisances that can be avoided.”

This description was so ambiguous that it was difficult to put into practice objectively. In addition to this desire for greater precision, the new decree also responds to the need to equate the regulations to the European Directive 2014/47 EU, facilitating compliance for international land transport, granting it a common framework.

Lastly, it is necessary to underline the importance of proper stowage in road safety, which is still the main motivation of the regulation. To give an idea of its relevance, it is enough to remember that there are studies according to which between 25% and 45% of accidents in the transport of goods have their origin in a deficient stowage of loads.


The method to verify compliance with the new regulations will be the use of inspections. The new stowage law plans to check 5% of all vehicles registered in Spain annually.

Road inspections will be carried out without prior notice and preferably to companies, due to the importance of these in the transport of merchandise. The inspectors will be in charge of verifying the latest technical inspection certificate, carrying out a visual inspection of the vehicle and the securing of the load, in addition to the technical controls they deem appropriate.

For the most detailed analysis, there will be “mobile inspection units” or you can go to the nearest ITV, in order to scrutinize the most technical aspects. In these inspections, points such as braking equipment, steering, visibility, the condition of the chassis, emissions, etc. can be assessed.

With regard to stowage, Annex III of the Royal Decree is where the technical aspects and applicable standards for correct loading are specified (link to the full text of the decree). For example, in the case of fastening, it is specified that it must be able to withstand acceleration or deceleration forces in the direction of travel equivalent to the weight of the load multiplied by 0.8 (in forces in the lateral direction, the factor of multiplication will be 0.5).

The new stowage law distinguishes between minor, serious and dangerous infractions

At this point, the distribution of maximum authorized axle loads is also discussed, as well as the minimum ones and the requirements of other elements -frontal and lateral mooring points, resistance of the canvases, immobilization systems, hitches, etc-. These principles are applicable to all types of merchandise, although special emphasis is expected to be placed on those that are not palletized, since they tend to be more problematic for stowage and are easier to move during transport.

Annex III also includes the technical regulations applicable in each section:

– EN 12195-1 Calculation of clamping forces.

– EN 12640 Mooring points.

– EN 12642 Resistance of the vehicle body structure.

– EN 12195-2 Synthetic fiber lashing straps.

– EN 12195-3 Mooring chains.

– EN 12195-4 Steel mooring cables.

– ISO 1161, ISO 1496 ISO container.

– EN 283 Mobile boxes.

– EN 12641 Tarpaulins.

– EUMOS 40511 Poles-Stakes.

– EUMOS 40509 Packaging for transport.

The new stowage law suggests the use of approved stowage tokens, as is the case of the HDZ. It will be the carrier that must present them in the event that it has been agreed that it is he who carries out the load -or it is done so by use or custom-. This is because, as a general rule, the Transport Contract Law and Royal Decree 97/2014 establish the responsibility of the load and its insurance to the shipper. These sheets also specify the vehicle being used and the requirements regarding the number of lashing straps to be used, the technique used, the necessary tools, the lashing, the necessary tension to counteract the acceleration and deceleration forces, etc.


The new stowage law establishes three levels of severity in stowage deficiencies:

Minor Deficiency: Minor deficiencies will be treated as those in which the load is properly secured but it would be possible to make safety recommendations.

Serious deficiency: they will be considered serious when the load has not been sufficiently secured and there is the possibility of overturning or significant displacement of all or part of it.

Dangerous deficiency: this section includes deficiencies that directly endanger traffic safety due to the loss of the cargo or parts of it, either due to a danger directly derived from the cargo or immediately endangering to the people.

For example, while an “inadequate fixing to the vehicle” is classified as a slight deficiency, the cases of merchandise with “risks of going through the wall” are classified as dangerous.


The logistics business organization UNO assesses in a report the various implications of the new stowage law. “Apart from the administrative consequences that non-compliance with this technical regulation may entail, in the form of economic sanctions and immobilization of the vehicle in the most serious cases, from our point of view this regulation acquires greater relevance if possible because it will affect transversally various matters, such as the prevention of occupational risks, civil, labor and even criminal liability for damages derived from inadequate stowage and mooring of the goods, which will correspond to the carrier, loader or shipper, depending on the case”.

In just a few days, this new stowage law will put into force a regulation that, as we have said, comes to cover that gap that existed until now. Thus having a standard harmonized with other European countries and specific scales and requirements to which to be able to adhere, reducing the subjectivity that until now could occur regarding whether the stowage had been correct or incorrect.

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Khaterine William

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