Car licences obtained before 1 January 1997
If you passed a car driving test before 1 January 1997, you keep your existing entitlement to tow trailers. This means you're generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kgs maximum authorised mass (MAM). You can also drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kgs MAM.
Car licences obtained on or after 1 January 1997
If you passed a car test on or after 1 January 1997 you're limited to vehicles up to 3,500kgs maximum authorised mass towing a trailer up to 750kgs, or a vehicle and trailer combination up to 3,500kgs MAM providing the MAM of the trailer doesn't exceed the unladen mass of the towing vehicle.
You will need to pass an additional driving test in B+E if you wish to tow a caravan or trailer combination which exceeds these weight limits.
Car licences obtained on or after 19 January 2013
Drivers who passed a test for Category B+E (Car and Trailer combination) on or after after 19 January 2013, will be restricted to towing a trailer not heavier than 3,500kgs, and the combined MAM of the car and trailer must not be more than 7,000kgs.
To tow a trailer that weighs more than 3,500kgs with a car or small vehicle (category B), you will need to pass additional tests for category C1E (medium-sized goods vehicles with trailers).
The car and trailer practical driving test
The car and trailer test (B+E) is based on the lorry driving test and lasts for approximately one hour. Please note that B+E tests are only conducted at vocational (bus and lorry) driving test centres- Belfast (Balmoral), Craigavon, Londonderry (Newbuildings), Omagh and Coleraine.
The towing test (B+E) includes vehicle safety questions, an off-road reverse manoeuvre, a controlled stop, uncoupling and coupling of the trailer and driving on the road. You won't be expected to carry out the following exercises:
- emergency stop on the public road
- reversing round a corner
- reverse parking
- turning in the road
Vehicle safety questions
These are basic safety checks that you should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked, you won't be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.
As vehicle technology advances, more and more vehicles are being equipped with electronic diagnostic systems, which inform the driver of the state of the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures. It will be acceptable for you to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures, provided the information displayed is appropriate.
You will be asked five questions that will be a combination of 'show me' and 'tell me'. A driving fault will be recorded for each incorrect answer to a maximum of four driving faults. If you answer all five questions incorrectly, a serious fault will be recorded.
For a list of the questions you can be asked on your driving test, see the vehicle safety questions link below: