Do I need a special licence to tow a caravan?
It’s vital to understand the limitations of your driving licence before heading out to tow a caravan – let alone buy one.
The first thing you need to do is check when you passed your driving test. If it was before 1 January 1997 you will automatically be able to drive a heavier car and caravan combination than if you passed after that date.
Have you passed your test since 1 January 1997?
The standard driving licence issued to a driver passing his or her test today covers categories B and B1. This means you can drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg (B) and tow a trailer up to 750kg behind it.
If you have a lighter car, you can then tow a heavier caravan, but the combined weight of the whole outfit cannot be more than 3,500kg. And don’t forget, it’s the official Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of the caravan that’s considered here – regardless how much luggage you put inside. To complicate matters further, the MPTLM of your caravan in this instance must also be lighter than the unladen weight of your car.
If you want to drive a larger outfit, you will need to pass an additional driving test to add the B+E category to your licence. This is a challenging test and most people will want to have some professional tuition before attempting it. The Caravan Club runs courses to help you reach the required standard, or you can find out more about local training organisations through the Driving Standards Agency.
… or did you take it before?
If you passed your test before 1 January 1997 you will automatically have the B+E category entitlement on your licence, allowing you to drive car and caravan combinations up to 8,250kg, covering most conventional outfits.
Your driving licence will show the categories you are entitled to drive. If you have the older-style paper licence they are clearly listed on the front of your licence. On newer two-part licences, they are given on the back of the pink photocard.
Once you’ve checked your driving licence, you’ll need to make sure your car and caravan combination is a good one. That’s the best way to ensure a comfortable and stable outfit on the road.
And don’t forget to load your caravan well – or all this careful matching will be in vain!