Towing Restrictions & Driving Licenses

I see this argument on an almost daily basis.
“What can I tow with my license?”

Everyone has an opinion but opinions are NOT fact and will not prevent you from receiving a nasty fine or even having your car and caravan seized at the roadside.

Somebody published a video on YouTube just this week in which he claimed with a B+E license you could legally tow upto a combined weight of 8250Kg. This is NOT true! When I challenged him he pointed me to his source. 

Unfortunately the figure he quoted is actually related to a class B license holder who passed their test before 1st Jan 1997. Note No Trailer Entitlement! (go figure)

Category B – if you passed your test before 1 January 1997You’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM). View your driving licence information to check.You’re also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.

The text above is from the source he quoted.
The reason for this which is quite confusing to those who have no knowledge of driving licenses before 1997, you see if you passed your driving test before 1997 you were also automatically given a C1 entitlement (7.5t lorry) on which you can also tow an unbraked trailer weighing no more than 750Kg as you can with a standard B license even if you passed after 1997.
So where does this magical 8250Kg figure come in, well the C1 Truck weighs a maximum of 7500Kg + the 750Kg trailer = 8250Kg

If you passed your test after 1st Jan 1997 you are allowd to drive a vechile weighing a maximum combined weight of 3500Kg, that’s including any trailer. So you can drive a 3500Kg Transit type van, but you can’t attach a trailer. If your car weighs 1800Kg you can add a trailer of anything upto 1700Kg under the terms of your license.

However! This is all depending on the maximum allowed weights for your car! These are all different and this is where most people get caught out!

Now if you passed after 1st Jan 1997 and you take the additional E test to allow heavier trailers you can still only drive a vehicle with a maximum weight of 3500Kg but now you can add a trailer or caravan weighing upto the maximum allowed weight for the vehicle. So 3500Kg tow car/van + 2000Kg Trailer = 5500Kg for example.

The only way that you can get to a combined weight of 8250Kg if you passed your test after 1st Jan 1997 is if you take the additional C1 test but that’s a whole new kettle of fish involving Tachographs and CPC exams.

So clear as mud eh? Yep and to confuse matters even more they changed the rules again on 19th Jan 2013 which added a limit of 3500kg for any trailer if you pass the E test.

None of this is helped by the fact that the government seem to employ someone just to write information in the most confusing manner possible and then constantly change their minds! The long and short of it is. This stuff is controlled by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) if you are in any doubt as to what you are allowed to do then contact them and ask. I would also suggest using email if possible and print out their response and leave it in your car just to help if there is any confusion at the roadside.

I am so glad I’m now an old fart and that I passed my test way back when, but I also have CE and DE entitlement so there is not much that I can’t drive as long as the car is allowed to tow it.

Good Luck in your quest.