A GUIDE TO SAFE AND LEGAL TOWING  

Requirements for towing trailers in Great Britain

Car driving licences held before 1 January 1997
If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you will normally keep your existing entitlements to drive a vehicle with a trailer, with a combined weight of 8.25 tonnes (showing on your licence as C1E (107)) until your licence runs out at age 70. You are also entitled to drive a minibus with a trailer weighing more than 750kg. If you want to keep these entitlements after age 70 you will need to submit an application for lorry, bus or minibus driving licence (D2) with a ‘Medical Examination Report’ (D4) filled in and signed by an optometrist/optician and a doctor, and meet the higher medical standards required of bus and lorry drivers.

If you have subcategory C1E (107) on your driving licence and wish to drive a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight of up to 12 tonnes you can apply for provisional subcategory C1+E in order to take the test. You do not need to get subcategory C1 first, but you have to meet higher medical standards and pass both the category C theory test and the subcategory C1+E practical test.

Lorry and bus licences held since 1 January 1997
Since 1 January 1997, if you hold category C or D entitlement you have been limited to trailers weighing up to 750kg. You must hold Category C+E or D+E to tow trailers weighing more than this.

Driving licences issued since 1 January 1997
If you passed a car test on or after 1 January 1997 you must pass an extra driving test to get entitlement to drive category B+E and all larger vehicles (If you hold subcategories C1, C1+E, D1 and D1+E you have to meet the higher medical standards for drivers of larger vehicles).

Descriptions of vehicle categories
All weights quoted for the relevant vehicles relate to the ‘Maximum Authorised Mass’ (MAM). This is the total weight of the vehicle when ‘laden’ (loaded). Where we refer to an ‘unladen weight’, this means the weight when not carrying a load.

Descriptions of vehicle categories if test passed before 19 January 2013
Category Description Minimum age Notes
B Cars
• Motor vehicle with a MAM of up to 3,500kg, no more than eight passenger seats with or without a trailer – weighing no more than 750kg.
• As category B but with a trailer weighing more than 750kg. The total weight of the vehicle and trailer together can’t weigh
17 See notes 1, 6 & 7
Automatic cars
As category B with automatic transmission.
17 See note 1
BE Cars with trailers
• Combinations of vehicles consisting of a vehicle in category B and a trailer, where the combination does not come within category B, and the MAM of the trailer or semi-trailer does not exceed 3500kg.
17
C1 Medium-sized vehicles
• Vehicles between 3500kg and 7500kg, designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver with a trailer up to 750kg.
18 See note 5
C1E Medium sized vehicles and trailers
• Vehicles between 3500kg and 7500kg with a trailer over 750kg, designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver – combined weight not more than 12000kg.
18 See notes 2 & 5
C Large goods vehicles
• Vehicles over 3500kg with a trailer up to 750kg, designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver.
21 See note 2
CE Large goods vehicles with trailers
• Vehicles over 3500kg, designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver with a trailer over 750kg.
21 See note 2
D1 Minibuses
• Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats in addition to the driver and with a maximum length not exceeding eight metres with a trailer up to 750kg.
21 See notes 3 & 5
D1E Minibuses with trailers
• Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats in addition to the driver and with a maximum length not exceeding 8 metres with a trailer over 750kg, provided that the MAM of the combination formed does not exceed 12000kg.
21 See notes 3 or 5
D Buses
• Any bus designed and constructed for the carriage of more than eight passengers in addition to the driver, with a trailer up to 750kg.
21 See notes 3 & 4
DE Buses with trailers
• Any bus designed and constructed for the carriage of more than eight passengers in addition to the driver, with a trailer over 750kg.
21 See notes 3 & 4

Note 1
Age 16 if you are getting or have applied for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) (mobility component) at the enhanced rate.

Note 2
You can drive at age 17 if you are a member of the armed services.
You can drive at age 18 if one of the following apply: • you passed your driving test and Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) Initial Qualification
• you are learning to drive or taking a driving test for this category or Driver CPC Initial Qualification
• you are taking a national vocational training course to get a Driver CPC Initial Qualification, or
• you had your driving licence before 10 September 2009, you must take the CPC periodic training within 5 years of this date.
Note 3
You can drive at age 17 if you are a member of the armed services.
You can drive these vehicles at age 18 if one of the following apply:
(i) You are learning to drive or taking a PCV test or Driver CPC initial qualification.
(ii) Having passed a PCV driving test and Driver CPC initial qualification, you can drive under any of the following conditions: • driving on a regular service where the route doesn’t exceed 50km
• not engaged in the carriage of passengers, or
• driving a vehicle of a class included in sub-category D1.
(iii) Having passed a PCV test before 10 September 2008 and driving under a bus operator’s licence, or minibus permit, or community bus permit and any of the following conditions: • driving on a regular service where the route doesn’t exceed 50km
• not engaged in the carriage of passengers, or
• driving a vehicle of a class included in sub-category D1.
You can drive at age 20 after passing a PCV driving test and Driver CPC initial qualification.

Note 4
You need category D entitlement to drive an articulated bus (for example, a ‘bendibus’).

Note 5
If you passed your test for category B or B automatic before 1 January 1997 your licence will already show entitlement to drive C1, C1E
(8.25 tonnes), D1, D1E (not for hire or reward). • If you want to drive medium or large vehicles, minibuses or buses in the EU or EEA, you must apply for the appropriate provisional entitlement.
• You must not apply for theory or practical tests until the provisional entitlement is shown on your licence.
Note 6
This applies to all category B licence holders, regardless of the test pass date.

Note 7
An exemption exists for the holders of category B, to drive large motor tricycles in category A provided they are over 21 years of age.

Descriptions of vehicle categories if test passed since 19 January 2013
The table below shows only the vehicle categories that have changed since 19 January 2013, for the vehicle categories that have not changed see table ‘Descriptions of vehicle categories before 19 January 2013’.
Category Description Minimum age Notes
D1 Minibuses
• Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats in addition to the driver and with a maximum length not exceeding eight metres with a trailer up to 750kg.
21 See notes 1 & 2
D Buses
• Any bus designed and constructed for the carriage of more than eight passengers in addition to the driver, with a trailer up to 750kg.
24 See note 1
D1E Minibuses with trailers
• Vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats in addition to the driver and with a maximum length not exceeding 8 metres with a trailer over 750kg, provided that the MAM of the combination formed does not exceed 12000kg.
21 See notes 1 & 2
DE Buses with trailers
• Any bus designed and constructed for the carriage of more than eight passengers in addition to the driver, with a trailer over 750kg.
24 See note 1

Note 1
You can drive at age 17 if you are a member of the armed forces.
You can drive these vehicles at age 18 if one of the following apply:
(1) You are learning to drive or taking a PCV test or Driver CPC initial qualification
(2) Having passed a PCV driving test and Driver CPC initial qualification, you can drive under any of the following conditions: • driving on a regular service where the route doesn’t exceed 50km
• not engaged in the carriage of passengers
• driving a vehicle of a class included in sub-category D1.
(3) Having passed a PCV test before 10 September 2008 and driving under a bus operator’s licence, or minibus permit, or community bus permit and any of the following conditions: • driving on a regular service where the route doesn’t exceed 50km
• not engaged in the carriage of passengers
• driving a vehicle of a class included in sub-category D1.
Age 20 after passing a PCV driving test and Driver CPC initial qualification.
Age 21 if: • the vehicle is being used by the fire service or for maintaining public order
• undergoing road tests for repair or maintenance purposes, or
• if you were entitled to drive the vehicle before 19 January 2013.
Note 2
If you passed your test for category B or B automatic before 1 January 1997 your licence will already show entitlement to C1, C1E (8.25 tonnes), D1 and D1E (not for hire or reward).

Upgrading entitlement for trailers
In general, drivers need to take an extra driving test for each category or subcategory of entitlement. But there are certain exceptions to this if drivers have already passed a test which gives entitlement for a larger or equivalent-sized vehicle.

Examples Test pass category Upgraded entitlement for larger or equivalent sized vehicle
1 C1+E or D1+E From category B entitlement to B+E
2 C1+E From category D1 (if held) to D1+E
Note: a test pass for subcategory D1+E does not upgrade subcategory C1 to C1+E because the trailer size for subcategory D1+E is smaller than that for a subcategory C1+E test.
3 C+E From B entitlement to B+E and also gives entitlement to subcategories C1 and C1+E and, if category D or subcategory D1 is held, these are upgraded to category D+E or subcategory D1+E.
Note: CE (102) will not upgrade D to DE but will upgrade any B, C1 and D1 held.
4 D+E From category B and subcategory D1 to categories B+E and subcategory D1+E
Note: Passing D+E does not upgrade category C or subcategory C1 entitlements because the trailer size for a category D+E test is smaller than that for a category C+E or subcategory C1+E.

Provisional trailer entitlement
Since 1 January 1997, you can no longer take a test in a heavy vehicle with a trailer (for example, category C+E or D+E) unless you have first passed a test in the relevant vehicle (for example, category C or D).

This means that although you may have been driving a vehicle and trailer combination with ‘L’ plates, you cannot take a trailer test with that vehicle until you have passed a test in the required category without a trailer attached.

Further information
More information is available at www.gov.uk or the following leaflets are available by phoning 0300 790 6801:
INF28 – Driving a minibus
INF38 – Driving in Great Britain (GB) as a Visitor or New Resident
INF45/3 – Changes to the driving licence and categories
INF52 – Large vehicles you can drive using your car or lorry licence

If you have any questions
You can get more information on driving licences by phoning Customer Enquiries on 0300 790 6801.
The lines are open between 8am and 7pm Monday to Friday, and between 8am and 2pm on Saturdays.
You will be answered by an automatic system but will be able to speak to an operator during office hours. We monitor or record some calls for quality purposes.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing and have a textphone you should phone 0300 123 1278.
You can get more information on driving tests by phoning the DVSA on 0300 200 1122.
If you have changed your name, address or vehicle, please tell us immediately.
If you don’t you may have to pay a £1000 fine.

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