Caravans & Trailers
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The driving licence you need to tow a caravan or trailer
The ability to tow a caravan or trailer will depend on the driving licence you hold. The category entitlement on your driving licence will determine the type of trailer you can tow.
Construction and use
This article relates to driver licensing matters only. For details on the construction and use requirements regarding weights and dimensions for trailers please contact:
Vehicle Standards Engineering 5, Department of Transport, Zone 2/01, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DR Telephone: 020 7944 2064.
Maximum authorised mass (MAM)
In this article reference is made to the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of vehicles and trailers. This should be taken to mean the permissible maximum weight, also known as the gross vehicle weight.
Car licences held before 1 January 1997
All drivers who passed a car test before 1 January 1997 retain their existing entitlement to tow trailers until their licence expires. This means they are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM. They also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kgs MAM.
Drivers who hold subcategory C1+E - limited to 8.25 tonnes MAM, may apply for provisional entitlement to the new subcategory C1+E, in order to take and pass the test which will increase their combined vehicle and trailer entitlement to 12 tonnes MAM. It is not necessary to gain subcategory C1 entitlement first but drivers have to meet higher medical standards, and pass both the category C theory test and the subcategory C1+E practical test.
Large goods vehicle and passenger carrying vehicle licences held before 1 January 1997
Since 1 January 1997 all drivers who hold category C or D entitlement have been limited to trailers up to 750kgs MAM; Category C+E or D+E must be held in order to tow trailers in excess of this.
Car driving licence first obtained since 1 January 1997
Drivers who passed a car test on or after 1 January 1997 are required to pass an additional driving test in order to gain entitlement to category B+E and all larger vehicles. In addition to the new driving tests, drivers of vehicles which fall within subcategories C1, C1+E, D1 and D1+E also have to meet higher medical standards.
Upgrading entitlement for trailers
In general, an additional driving test is required for each category or subcategory of entitlement. But there are certain exceptions to this where drivers have already passed one test which involves trailer entitlement for a larger or equivalent sized vehicle.
This means that passing a test for subcategory C1+E or D1+E upgrades category B entitlement to B+E. A test pass for subcategory C1+E upgrades subcategory D1, if held, to D1+E. But a test pass for subcategory D1+E does not upgrade subcategory C1 to C1+E because the trailer size required for a subcategory D1+E test is smaller than that required for a subcategory C1+E test.
Passing a test for category C+E upgrades category B entitlement to B+E and also confers entitlement to subcategory C1 and C1+E and, if category D or subcategory D1 is held, these are upgraded to category D+E or subcategory D1+E. A test passed for category D+E upgrades category B and subcategory D1 to category B+E and subcategory D1+E respectively. But it does not upgrade category C or subcategory C1 entitlements because the trailer size required for a category D+E test is smaller than that required for a category C+E or subcategory C1+E test.
Provisional trailer entitlement
Since 1 January 1997 drivers are no longer able to sit a test in a heavy vehicle/trailer combination (eg category C+E or D+E) unless they have first passed a test and obtained a full licence in the corresponding rigid vehicle (eg category C or D).
This means that although drivers may have been driving a vehicle and trailer combination legitimately, under L plates, they are not permitted to sit a trailer test using such a combination until a test has been passed in a rigid vehicle and a full licence obtained for that category.
This information is not intended to be a definitive statement of law.