Make sure you know the law before you hitch up your caravan
The first thing to appreciate is that they vary depending on when you passed your driving test.
The good news is that older drivers – who often passed several decades ago – are at an advantage. The key date is 1 January 1997 – if you passed before then, things are much simpler.
Start by checking the back of your photo-card driving licence. Category B+E is the crucial one that you need for towing caravans.
Licences issued before 1 January 1997
You will generally have B+E, so are entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM). This is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely, and is more than enough for most touring caravans.
Licences issued between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013
You will have a Category B on your licence, which means you can:
- Drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM.
- Tow a trailer over 750kg MAM, as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg.
Licences issued from 19 January 2013
You will have a Category B on your driving licence, which means you can tow:
- Small trailers weighing no more than 750kg.
- A trailer over 750kg, as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM).
Anyone who passed their driving test after 1 January 1997, and who wants to tow anything heavier than what’s listed above, will need to pass a Category B+E driving test. For more information click here.
It costs from £115, and many companies across the UK offer advice and training. Search online for local providers.
The best advice is…
If you’re unsure about how the law on towing applies to you, seek professional help.
If you’re considering buying a caravan, talk to your retailer. They will have plenty of experience in dealing with first-timers.
It’s important to know that your car is suitable for towing. The maximum weight, as recommended by the manufacturer, will be printed in the car’s handbook. It may also be stamped on to the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate, which could be under the bonnet or on the door sill.
Check also for the gross train weight (GTW), which is the weight of the fully-loaded car plus the fully-loaded trailer, and must not be exceeded.
Please be aware, this article is only a basic guide to towing law.