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What driving licence do I need to tow a caravan or trailer?

If you want to jump into the current staycation trend, you will need to know if your driving licence will allow you to tow a caravan or trailer. Read more about towing laws and the trailer licence you need to tow a caravan or a trailer.

Nimisha Jain

Words by: Nimisha Jain

Last updated on 16 November 2021 | 0 min read

Can I tow a caravan or trailer on a car licence?

You’re allowed to tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to a certain amount on your category B car licence.
There is no special caravan licence or trailer licence needed for towing; it all depends on how heavy the load is that you want to tow. If it is heavy, you may need to upgrade your licence by taking a driving test for the correct category. This depends on what category test you passed and when you passed it. If you earned your licence after 19th January 2013 and held a car and small vehicle (category B) licence, you are allowed to tow the following:
  • Small trailers that do not weigh more than 750 kg
  • A trailer that weighs over 750 kg is allowed if the total weight (of the trailer and vehicle towing it) weighs less than 3,500 kg which is the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).
Previously, you needed to upgrade your licence to a B+E category to tow anything weighing over 750 kg (when the total weight of the vehicle towing it and trailer was over 3,500 kg).
With the latest changes announced by the DVLA, you’ll be allowed to tow trailers weighing up to 3,500 kg MAM from autumn 2021 onwards (date yet to be determined). Category BE, which allows you to drive any vehicle towing a trailer and weighing up to 3,500 kg MAM, will be automatically added when you get a new driving licence. If you have a regular car (category B) licence and you passed your driving test after the 1st January 1997, you can:
  • Drive a car or van weighing up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kg MAM to tow a trailer weighing 750 kg MAM or less.
  • If the total weight of the trailer and vehicle towing it is less than 3,500 kg, you are allowed to tow a trailer that weighs over 750 kg MAM.
  • Previously, you needed to pass a test to tow heavier trailers weighing over 750 kg to upgrade your licence to include category B+E. With the latest changes announced by the DVLA, category BE will be automatically added to your driving licence which will allow you to tow trailers weighing up to 3,500 kg MAM from Autumn 2021 onwards.
It is easier for people who passed their driving test before 1st January 1997. They are generally allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer with a total weight below 8.25 tonnes MAM (when there’s a category C1E (107) on your licence). However, it would help if you double-checked with the DVLA what you are allowed to tow on your current licence.

Towing capacity, and how to work it out

The towing capacity of your car must be taken into account a fully-loaded car as well as a caravan or trailer that is also loaded to capacity. The towing capacity will be detailed in the car's handbook.

Are there any other towing rules to think about?

Yes, the width and length are also an important factor. The maximum width of a trailer being towed is 2.55 metres. The length for any vehicle weighing 3,500 kg or below must be under 7 metres long.

What is the speed limit for a car towing a trailer or a caravan?

Different speed limits apply on different roads when a car tows a trailer or a caravan:

Towing speed limit on a single carriageway

You can go up to 50 mph or 80 km/h when towing a trailer or a caravan on a single carriageway.

Towing speed limit on a dual carriageway

The maximum speed allowed on a dual carriageway when towing a vehicle is 60 mph or 96 km/h.

Towing speed limit on a motorway

You’re allowed to drive up to 60 mph or 96 km/h on a motorway when towing a caravan or a trailer.

Towing speed limit on a built-up area

The speed limit when your car or van is towing a caravan or trailer in a built-up area is 30 mph or 48 km/h. According to the UK Highway Code, a built-up area refers to restricted roads with three or more streetlamps, not more than 183 metres apart.

More rules and tips for towing a trailer

Here are some tips to keep you and other drivers safe.
• All cars used after 1st August 1998 must have tow bars that are 'type approved', which means they meet all EU regulations and are designed to fit your car. This rule doesn't apply to cars used before this date. • Always remember to leave enough time and distance between yourself and other motorists to do what you need to do without rushing. Towing a trailer is not the time to rush. • All vehicle owners should check their tyres before setting off on any journey - it is your responsibility to check your car and trailer are roadworthy. • Always adhere to speed regulations. Never exceed 50 mph on a single carriageway or 60 mph on a dual carriageway. • All passengers should wear a be seatbelted in the car. No passenger should be in a caravan or trailer that is being towed. • The number plate must always show your the car's registration number that it is towing. It must comply with the relevant British Standards and be lit up at night. • The light panel at the rear must always be visible and in good working order. You need to check this before you depart. Make sure that changes are checked throughout your journey. • All trailers that weigh over 750 kg must have working brakes. • If the trailer doesn't have a braking system, the maximum load that can be towed is 750 kg, or it weighs half of the towing car's weight. • The caravan should be kept light. Heavy items should be laid low without risk of tipping over. This helps to prevent snaking and gives you maximum control. • The best way to prevent this is to do your homework and match your car well to what you want to tow.
Happy towing!

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