What does your driving licence allow you to tow?

Your entitlement to tow large trailers on a car (category B) licence has now changed with recent Government legislation (December 2021). 

Unfortunately, the wording on the gov website can be a little confusing so hopefully the information below will help.

* Anything shown as "E" on your driving licence relates to trailers within that category - i.e. BE (also referred to as B+E) means car (B) plus trailer (E) *

NOTE: -  If you have also passed additional higher category driving tests, this may have "upgraded" your driving and / or towing entitlements in the lower categories (see further down below under "Licence Upgrades").

Full Category B (Car) licences obtained BEFORE 1st January 1997

No changes have been made to UK category B licences issued up to 31st December 1996.

The gov website wording for this category obtained up to 31st December 1996 is -

  • "You’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kgs maximum authorised mass (MAM).  You’re also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kgs MAM".

The 8,250kgs MAM figure is a little misleading here.  Given that this description is under Category B, it is implying that this weight relates to Category B.  The upper limit of 8,250kgs MAM actually relates to the Category C1 which was also automatically given to those who passed their car test before 1st January 1997. 

C1 = Vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg MAM (with a trailer up to 750kg).  7,500 kgs + 750 kgs  =  8,250 kgs

The good news is that those who passed their car test before 1st January 1997 were given full B+E entitlement automatically (acquired rights) and can tow any large trailer providing you are adhering to the towing capacity of the vehicle you are towing with - (Construction & Use Regulations apply here).

Unless for some reason you have since lost your B+E entitlement, this hasn't changed.  Have B+E on your licence but need some help and guidance on towing / reversing a trailer, we have one day handling courses to suit your needs.

Full Category B (Car) licences obtained on or after 1 January 1997 - Towing Limits

The recent legislation change on 16th December 2021 means that UK car (category B) licence holders, are now being given the B+E category without taking an additional test.  This only applies to UK driving licence holders. 

The licence towing limits for those "given" the B+E category will be the same as below under heading -  "19th January 2013 "B+E Category" amendment".

19th January 2013 "B+E Category" amendment

In 2013, a further amendment was made to the B+E category to introduce an upper weight limit of the trailer to 3,500kgs with a total maximum train weight of 7,000kgs. 

The gov website wording is -

The maximum weight of a trailer you can tow on a B+E licence now depends on the BE "valid from" date shown on your driving licence. 

  • Before 19th January 2013, you can tow any size trailer
  • On or after the 19th January 2013, you can tow a trailer with a MAM up to 3,500kgs

In reality, the upper trailer limit does not affect most drivers passing their B+E on or after 19th January 2013 as it is extremely rare to find a category B vehicle with a towing capacity above 3,500kg. 

The few "specially modified" category B vehicles that can legally tow above 3,500kg would be affected and so can only be used to tow to their maximum towing capacity by a driver who obtained their B+E prior to this 2013 change.

Licence Upgrades

If you have not yet sent your licence back for updating since 16th December 2021, the following will apply when you take a further higher category practical driving test;

Just two examples are:

  • If you already hold a full licence for categories B & C1, passing the C1+E test automatically upgrades your licence to include full B+E entitlement.
  • If you already hold a full licence for categories B & D1, passing the D1+E test automatically upgrades your licence to include full B+E entitlement.

This is because you have demonstrated competence in driving a bigger and heavier vehicle / trailer combination by passing the relevant test.

For further details on "upgrading" lower categories.