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26 January 2021

NEWS & INSIGHTSYou need to know this about your trailer’s data plate

A data plate is a small but powerful source of information, providing a quick reference to details concerning your trailer.

The National Road Traffic Act (NRTA Reg 245) states that all trailers above 3500 kg and those first registered from 1 January 1998 (irrespective of capacity) must have a metal data plate securely fixed to the body. The information must be imprinted or stamped onto the plate using Roman Letters and Numerals preferably 7mm high.

Where should the data plate be placed?

The plate should be easily accessible and fixed securely to the curbside of the trailer preferably to the drawbar or as far forward on the body or chassis as possible. The information has to be clearly legible.

What size is a data plate?

The standard data plate used by Burquip is 165mm x 75mm (w x h).

What information should be available on a data plate?

The data plate contains information regarding mass loads (and engine power, where applicable, i.e., in the case with tractors that operate on public roads). It will include the VIN of the vehicle, specifications from the manufacturer and permissible mass information.

Required information per field


Full name of the manufacturer.

VIN : Vehicle Identification Number

The VIN composed according to an international standard that specifies its content and structure, thereby creating a global uniform identification numbering system for road vehicles. These numbers are a combination of 17 Arabic numerals and Roman letters, which contains amongst others the manufacturer’s details, the year and place of manufacture, and product specific information.

The manufacturer must ensure that each VIN issued is indeed unique.

The VIN must be displayed on the data plate in numerals and letters being at least 3mm high.

T - Tare

The weight of the unloaded trailer is called the Tare Mass, which is the trailer’s mass with all its necessary tools, spare wheels etc. attached.

A trailer’s payload capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight you can safely add to its cargo area in addition to its unloaded weight.

GVM / BVM - Gross Vehicle Mass

The maximum theoretical maximum design load. The GVM is the mass of an unloaded trailer (tare) plus the weight of the load (payload).

Trailer categories are determined by the GVM. Category O1 trailers have a single axle and a maximum load capacity of under 750kg, whereas O2 trailers are designed to carry a load between 750kg and 3500kg.

The loading space available on the trailer does not determine the load capacity; this is depended on a combination of axle(s) size, tyres, loading space and more.

GCM / BKM - Gross Combination Mass Load

(On a vehicle used to draw another.) This is the combined weight of your towing vehicle and trailer, while hitched together and both fully loaded.

GAU / BAE - Gross Axle-Unit

Gross Axle-Unit mass load of each axle-unit as per the load specifications of the manufacturer, therefore for multi-axle, tandem axles etc.

GA / BA - Gross Axle Mass Load

Gross axle mass load (as specified by the manufacturer) for a single axle trailer.


Net power of the engine.

V - Permissible Maximum Vehicle Mass

The Permissible Maximum Vehicle Mass may not exceed the GVM.


Permissible maximum drawing vehicle mass.

A - Permissible Maximum Axle Mass Load

Permissible Maximum Axle Mass load for single axle trailers as designed by the manufacture and may not exceed the GA. The A value should not exceed the total load capacity of the trailer’s tyres (as specified for the tyre size in SANS 1550 or; if not listed, as specified by the tyre manufacturer.)

AU / AE - Permissible Maximum Axle-Unit Mass Load

Permissible maximum axle-unit mass load of each axle-unit, may not exceed GAU.



This insert covers the information as required on the data plate available from Burquip International (Pty) and not all abbreviations associated with different data plates and vehicle mass loads.



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