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The driving licence you need to tow a caravan or trailer

Your entitlement to tow a caravan or trailer will depend on the driving licence you hold. The categories detailed on your driving licence will determine what you can tow. Watch an information video provided by the Highways Agency:

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 first obtained on or after 19 January 2013

Drivers who pass a test for Category B+E (Car and Trailer combination) on or after the above date, will be restricted to towing a trailer not heavier than 3,500kg, and the combined MAM of the car and trailer must not be more than 7,000kg.

To tow a trailer that weighs more than 3,500kg with a car/ small vehicle (category B), you will need to pass additional tests for category C1+E (medium-sized goods vehicles with trailers).

Car licences first obtained before 19 January 2013 but on or after 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 (Car and Trailer combinations), and also for 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.

Category B entitlement holders may still tow a trailer; however certain restrictions apply, please see the following link for further details.

Car licences held before 1 January 1997

Drivers who passed a car test before 1 January 1997 (within the UK) may retain their earlier existing entitlement to tow trailers, unless their licence has been restricted. This means they are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination that falls within B+E entitlement and up to 8,250kgs MAM for holders of C1+E. They also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kgs MAM.

Drivers who hold subcategory C1+E - limited to 8,250kgs 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, trailer entitlement after 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. Drivers are no longer able to sit a test in a heavy vehicle/trailer combination (for example: category C+E or D+E) unless they have first passed a test and obtained a full licence in the corresponding rigid vehicle (for example: 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.

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. However, 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. Also, 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. However; 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.

Construction and use

This information relates to driver licensing matters only. For details on the construction and use requirements regarding weights and dimensions for trailers please contact:

DVA
Vehicle Licensing
Castlerock Road
Waterside
Coleraine
BT51 3TA

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