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.
Towing trailers or caravans with vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes
Towing trailers with medium sized vehicles between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes
Towing a trailer with a passenger carrying vehicle
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
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