Towing with a car, van or minibus

Now Spring is fast approaching and the Caravans and Leisure/Boat Trailers are being checked and prepared for that trip to the coast, now is the ideal time to check your own legality to tow?

Two very important dates regarding when you first passed your Cat B car test, have a huge difference in what you can and cannot drive without having to take a further test.

Category B /BE/C1/C1E/D1/D1E

These are all Driving Licence Categories which tell you what you are entitled to drive , they are found on the back of your driving licence card. An online DVLA licence check will also show you in detail all categories and any provisional entitlement you hold with all expiry dates.

If you passed your car test before 1st January 1997 then you are generally entitled to drive Cat B,C1 and Cat C1+E and Cat D1 . This was called Acquired Rights (grandfather rights), however you will have a code at the side of some of the categories on your licence card as follows:

Cat D1 will have code 101 meaning not for hire or reward. To upgrade your licence to drive for a living the following will need to be done: Vocational Medical D4 and D2 application forms. Theory tests 1a and 1b. Finally the Cat D1 practical driving test. You can tow a trailer over 750kg mgw.

Cat C1E will have code 107 which means you cannot exceed 8,250kg Maximum Train Weight. If you want to upgrade your licence entitlement to drive a vehicle and trailer with a gross train weight of 12,000kg. Including a maximum width of 2.55m and tow vehicle and trailer length of 18m, then you will need to apply for a Cat C1E provisional entitlement. By taking a Vocational Medical D4 and returning this with the D2 application form, then completing theory tests 1a and 1b. Finally completing the Cat C1E practical driving test.

The other thing to consider is the plated weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer/caravan you are towing. The trailer/caravan CANNOT be heavier than the tow vehicle.

This plated weight can be found in your vehicles Handbook and also on the metal VIN plate usually under the bonnet.

The plated weight (MTPLM) of the trailer or caravan will be displayed on a metal plate on the front axle near the tow hitch.

4 lines of numbers…
1635kg = (GVW) Gross Vehicle Weight 2735kg = Gross Train Weight, mass of vehicle and trailer. 920kg/840kg = Maximum axle loads front and then rear. Therefore the manufacturers recommended maximum towing capacity for your vehicle is the GVW subtracted from the Gross Train Weight. The vehicle plate opposite therefore has a maximum towing capacity of 1100kg. 2735kg – 1635kg = 1100kg. Note: If line 2 has 0000kg or is blank then the manufacturer recommends vehicle does not tow.

If you passed your car test AFTER Jan 1st 1997 and Before 19th January 2013 then the following applies to you.

Cat B= Car/van with a Maximum plated weight of 3,500kg.

Adding the B+E Qualification will enable you to tow you can tow any size trailer taking the combined train weight up to 3,500kg and any size trailer. Note: Maximum legal sizes with the tow vehicle GVW up to 3,500 kg is 2.55m wide and 7.0m length.

Car/van and trailer combination train weight of Maximum 3,500kg. No Cat C1 , D1 or C1+E on your licence. To be able to now get the Cat C1 or C1+E or D1 then first a provisional entitlement is now needed. Process of Vocational Medical, D4 and D2 application forms and then Theory Tests 1a and 1b and then the practical driving test.

If you passed your car test AFTER Jan 19th 2013 then the following applies to you.
Cat B= Car/van with a Maximum plated weight of 3,500kg.

No Cat C1, C1+E or D1 entitlement. To upgrade licence will be the same process as above.
However adding the B+E Qualification will now enable you to tow a larger trailer with a Maximum Authorised Mass up to 3,5OO kg. Note: Maximum legal sizes with the tow vehicle GVW up to 3,500 kg is 2.55m wide and 7.0m length.

The Caravan rules on Towing vehicle suitability and axle weights , nose weight , MTPLM and safe loading and towing practices are quite complex. More information and guidance can be found on the Caravan Club website or from your local reputable Caravan dealership.

More information is available from DVLA by calling 0300 790 6801
or using the online tool 
or contact Shaw’s on the details below…

Get In Touch

For more information or to enquire about our driver training services, please call us on 01952 913177 / 07876 572335 or fill out the contact form below.

Unit B, Stafford Park 12, Telford, England, TF3 3BJ










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