Transport – guidance

Apply for brown tourist signs on roads the Highways Agency manage

How to apply for brown tourist signs for tourist attraction or facility located directly off a road managed by the Highways Agency.

Use this process if your attraction or facility is accessed from a motorway or A road managed by the Highways Agency. It may be accessed directly or via a private driveway or slip road.

If your attraction is accessed from an A road not managed by the Highways Agency or by a minor road, you should contact the relevant highway authority instead. In London the highway authority is Transport for London. Outside London the highway authority will be the local authority responsible for the venue location.

The Highways Agency is responsible for motorways and major roads in England. For other parts of the UK you will need to contact other authorities as follows:

Costs for design and installation

As the applicant, you will need to cover the cost of any agreed tourist signs. A single sign may cost £8,000 to £20,000 to design and install if sited on a single or dual carriageway, depending on the size of the sign. A single motorway sign may cost £17,000 to £40,000. Many design options are available; the Highways Agency has provided these costs ranges give you an indi­ca­tion of your pos­si­ble outlay.

The Highways Agency manages high speed routes with a major impact on local and national economies. As such precautions must be taken to ensure that signage is appropriate and installed safely. The Highways Agency may also need to take into account the cost of future maintenance. This means the design and delivery process for placing signage on strategic roads is generally more expensive than for local roads.

Eligible venues

Brown signs help road users find attractions and facilities.

An attraction is a place people visit for pleasure and interest, for example:

  • theme park
  • historic building
  • museum
  • zoo

A facility is a tourist amenity, for example:

  • hotel
  • guest house
  • camping ground
  • picnic site

Only attractions can be signed from a motorway. Both attractions and facilities can be signed from A-roads. Brown signs may only be provided where visitors would have difficulty finding the location.

It’s not possible for every tourist destination to be signed due to the number and variety of tourist destinations. Occasionally the Highways Agency cannot agree to provide tourist signs, even where the destination is eligible. This could be due to:

  • excess signing demand
  • high environmental intrusion
  • significant impact on road safety

Ineligible venues

Tourist signs cannot be used for:

  • retail outlets
  • shops or shopping centres
  • garden centres (including those with food outlets, play areas and additional retail outlets)
  • exhibition centres or conferencing facilities

Application process

You should use this process for attractions and facilities accessed directly from roads managed by the Highways Agency. Check the roads managed by the Highways Agency before you apply.

Signage design and installation does take time. Unforeseen factors, such as the presence of underground cables or pipes that need diverting, can cause delays. Please allow at least 9 months from start to finish.

  1. Complete section A of Annex C of Traffic signs to tourist attractions and facilities in England: tourist signing — trunk roads: TD 52/04 (PDF, 459KB, 40 pages) and send it to the Highways Agency attouristinformationsigns@highways.gsi.gov.uk.
  2. The Highways Agency will consider your eligibility against the criteria and liaise with any other relevant authorities as needed.
  3. The Highways Agency will contact you to explain whether you are eligible and to outline any appropriate signage and likely costs.
  4. You must pay a deposit in order to proceed. The Highways Agency will provide payment details when they contact you.
  5. Once the Highways Agency receives your deposit they will arrange for detailed design work to be carried out.
  6. The Highways Agency will then give you a firmer estimate for completion of the work and ask if you would like to proceed.
  7. If you do not wish to proceed, the Highways Agency will return your deposit minus any costs incurred so far.
  8. If you do proceed, the Highways Agency will set up a legal contract known as a Section 278. Once the contract has been signed by all parties, you will be invoiced for any remaining payments
  9. If the final cost is lower than the cost agreed, you will be reimbursed the difference.

Once installed, tourist signs become the property of the relevant highway authority to maintain as required.

Further information

Tourist (brown) sign application process and application form

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format.

If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Guidance for tourist signing - introduction: TA 93/04

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If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Traffic signs to tourist attractions and facilities in England: tourist signing — trunk roads: TD 52/04

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If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Guidance for tourist Signing - Local Roads: TA 94/04

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Traffic signs to retail destinations and exhibition centres in England and Wales - trunk roads: TD 53/05

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If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.