Towing And Your Driving Licence

One of the best things about having a caravan is being able to hitch it up to your car and head off for the weekend or on an impromptu holiday. There is however a lot of confusion about what you are allowed to tow on a standard driving licence, and this is mainly because the rules depend on when you sat your test rather than on what type of licence you have.

Tests Before 1 January 1997

If you passed your standard car driving test before 1st January 1997, you are allowed to drive a combination of vehicle and trailer up to a combined weight of 8,250kg. This covers most car and caravan, or van and caravan combinations. You don’t need to apply for any additional licence or take any additional test to get out on the road with your new caravan. Check the caravan manufacturer’s website to make sure you are within legal limits, but only the largest motorhomes and car plus caravan combinations will be heavier than your limits.

Passes After January 1997

If you have passed your driving test more recently – irrespective of your age – you have different restrictions. You are allowed to drive a car or van weighing up to 3,500kg, along with a trailer of up to 750kg. You can also tow a trailer weighing more than 750kg, as long as the combined weight of your car and trailer doesn’t exceed 3,500kg. This will probably rule you out from driving the average family car towing a caravan, so if you wish to do so, you will have to pass an extra Car and Trailer Driving Test. This is sometimes known as the B+E test as these are the categories as printed on your driving licence. There is no theory component to this test, it is purely practical.

American Caravans and Trailers

Many people prefer to import caravans, motorhomes and trailers from the United States, where the Recreational Vehicle (RV) is a national obsession. The same weight limits apply to imports from overseas, and it is your obligation as a driver to make sure that your caravan or trailer is within the weight limits you are allowed on your licence, and also that it meets the required UK safety and road worthiness standards. Check with DVLA if you are at all uncertain.

Driver Training for Towing

Even if you have few restrictions on your licence, that doesn’t mean that hitching up a caravan and driving off without any training is a good idea. The Caravan Club runs special courses for those who are new to driving a motorhome or towing a caravan which will teach you the basics of manoeuvring, driving safely at speed on the motorway while towing, and give you practice at reversing and turning with a caravan. Other driver training organisations run similar courses, and if you have never towed anything before, they are a good investment. Some courses will offer a certificate on completion, which may also help reduce your insurance premiums for your caravan.

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