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Licensing Requirements

Licensing Requirements for Towing Trailers and Caravans

This section contains information about changes in entitlement to tow trailers. These changes came into effect on 1 January 1997 and affect all newly qualified and some existing drivers.

Prior to 1 January 1997 anyone could have taken their driving test in a small car and the next day tow a trailer or caravan without any further training.

With the UK roads getting busier, the European Union demanded harmonisation of driving licensing and tests, as changes came into force new driving licence categories and entitlements were introduced for drivers who passed their test after 1 January 1997.

Cat B car licence held before 1 January 1997

Drivers who passed a Cat B car driving test before 1 January 1997 were granted implied entitlement, sometimes known as 'grandfather rights', this enabled you to drive small lories, busses and vehicle plus trailer combinations subject to certain conditions, you will retain your existing entitlement to tow trailers until your licence expires under implied entitlement 'grandfather rights'.

There are road safety issues involved where a person who has never passed the relevant test, acts as the supervisor for a driver of vehicle plus trailer combinations.

A car includes any 4 wheeled vehicle with a MAM of less than 3,500kg which has no more than 8 passenger seats

Cat B car licence held on or after 1 January 1997

Drivers who passed a Cat B car test on or after 1 January 1997 are required to pass an additional driving test in order to gain entitlement to Cat B+E and all larger vehicles.

Since 1 January 1997 a new driver may drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg MAM with a 750kg MAM trailer (allowing a combined weight up to 4,250kg MAM) OR a vehicle combination of up to 3,500kg MAM provided the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.

For example:

A towing vehicle with an unladen weight of 1,250kg and a MAM of 2,000kg coupled with a trailer with a MAM of 1,250kg could be driven by the holder of a Cat B car entitlement. This is because the MAM of the combination does not exceed 3,500kg and also the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.

Whereas:

The same towing vehicle with an unladen weight of 1,250kg and a MAM of 2,000kg when coupled with a trailer with a MAM of 1,500kg would fall within Cat B+E. This is because although the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is within the 3,500kg MAM limit, the MAM of the trailer is more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.

The size of the trailer you can tow is dependent on the MAM, not the actual weight when loaded. You cannot tow a heavier trailer even if it is not fully loaded.

Do I need to take a trailer towing test?

If you passed your Cat B car test before 1 January 1997 you are generally allowed to drive a Cat B vehicle and trailer up to a maximum weight of 8,250kg. This is the combined weight of the loaded towing vehicle and the loaded trailer.

If you passed your car test on, or after 1 January 1997 you may tow a trailer up to 750kg behind a Cat B vehicle. If the trailer is more than 750kg then you have to look very carefully at the weights of the towing vehicle and the trailer being towed.

There is no Cat B+E theory test.

You cannot tow trailers on a provisional licence.

The standard recommendation for putting together a safe combination is; the loaded trailer should not weigh more than the vehicle manufacturer's recommended towing weight or 85% of the vehicle's kerb weight, whichever is less. The combined weight of the loaded vehicle and the loaded trailer must not exceed the manufacturer's stated Gross Train Weight (GTW). The GTW is the maximum weight a vehicle can move on the road and is set by the vehicle's manufacturer.

For more information

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) factsheet INF 30 'Towing Trailers in Great Britain' will give you all the information you will need. Alternatively more information can be found on the DVLA website.

Manufacturers details

Vehicle manufacturers normally recommend a maximum weight of trailer appropriate to their vehicle.  Details can usually be found in the vehicle's handbook or obtained from car dealerships. The size of trailer recommended for an average family car with an unladen weight of around 1,000kg would be well within the new Cat B threshold.

Note 

An exemption exists that allows a full Cat B car licence holder to drive a vehicle in a class included in Cat B+E where:

-        The trailer consists of a vehicle which is damaged or defective and is likely to represent a road safety hazard or obstruction to other road users, i.e. towing a broken down vehicle to a place of safety. 

-        The combination is driven only so far as is reasonably necessary in the circumstances to remove the hazard or obstruction, and receives no consideration or reward for driving the combination.

Note

-        EC regulations prevent drivers aged less than 21 years to driving vehicles or combinations which weigh more than 7,500kg MAM.

In general, an additional driving test is required for each category or subcategory of entitlement. But there are certain exemptions to this where drivers have already passed one test that involves trailer entitlement for a larger or equivalent sized vehicle.

This means taking a test for subcategory C1+E upgrades Cat B car entitlement to Cat B+E.

Drivers are not allowed to take a trailer test for a category of licence until they have first passed a test and obtained a full licence in the category in the corresponding towing vehicle. 

Losing your licence

If you lose your licence for Cat B car, you may have to retake your Cat B+E test again, it is your responsibility to find out or you may be towing illegally.

If you lose you driving licence within 2 years of passing your Cat B car test, you will revert to provisional status, you may have to retake your Cat B+E.

Car Trailer Training are part on the Tony Byiast Driving Academy group of websites. Some of the areas we cover are: Essex, Cambridgeshire, Basildon, Northampton and London.


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Car Trailer Training Specialist in trailer towing training. Courses currently running in Chelmsford, Dunmow, Bishops Stortford, Ipswich, Brentwood and expanding with new instructors into the Suffolk and Cambridge area. All trainers are fully qualified DSA (Driving Standards Agency) Approved Driving Instructors specifically trained by me to give you the best possible service and training you deserve. Training areas near the Chelmsford, Ipswich and Norwich test centres, we are able to provide training in preparation for the B+E test for most of East Anglia, covering Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk..

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