Do you need a different licence?
There is no separate 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 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).
- If you would like to tow something that weighs more than 750 kg (total weight of the vehicle towing it and trailer must be over 3,500 kg). Your licence will need to be upgraded to include the B+E categories.
If you have a regular car (category B) licence and you passed your driving test after the 1st January 1997, you can:
- Drive any vehicle weighing up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kg MAM (when the trailer you are towing is below 750 kg MAM).
- 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.
- You need to take a test for anything over that weight to upgrade your licence to include category B+E.
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. 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 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.
Is there a knack to towing a caravan or 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 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.