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VEHICLE TOWING WEIGHT - Each Driving Licence Category

Driving Licences Pre and Post 1 January 1997

Caravans - Trailers

The towing weight allowed for a caravan or trailer will depend on the driving licence you hold. The category entitlement on your driving licence will determine the type of trailer you can tow and its towing weight.

Driving Licences Held Before 1 January 1997

All drivers who passed a car test before 1 January 1997 retain their existing entitlement for trailers until their licence expires.

This means they are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM.

They also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kgs MAM.

Drivers who hold subcategory C1+E - limited to 8.25 tonnes MAM, may apply for provisional entitlement to the new subcategory C1+E, in order to take and pass the test which will increase their combined vehicle and trailer entitlement to 12 tonnes MAM.

It is not necessary to gain subcategory C1 entitlement first but drivers have to meet higher medical standards and pass both the category C theory test and the subcategory C1+E practical test.

Large goods vehicle and passenger carrying vehicle licences held before 1 January 1997

Since 1 January 1997 all drivers who hold category C or D entitlement have a towing weight limited to trailers up to 750kgs MAM; Category C+E or D+E must be held in order to tow trailers in excess of this towing weight.

Driving Licences Passed After 1 January 1997

Drivers who passed a car test on or after 1 January 1997 are required to pass an additional driving test in order to gain entitlement to category B+E and all larger vehicles.

In addition to the new driving tests, drivers of vehicles which fall within subcategories C1, C1+E, D1 and D1+E also have to meet higher medical standards.

Upgrading Driving Licence Entitlement for Trailers

In general, an additional driving test is required for each category or subcategory of entitlement. But there are certain exceptions to this where drivers have already passed one test which involves trailer entitlement for a larger or equivalent sized vehicle.

  • This means that passing a test for subcategory C1+E or D1+E upgrades category B entitlement to B+E.
  • A test pass for subcategory C1+E upgrades subcategory D1, if held, to D1+E.
  • But a test pass for subcategory D1+E does not upgrade subcategory C1 to C1+E because the trailer size required for a subcategory D1+E test is smaller than that required for a subcategory C1+E test.
  • Passing a test for category C+E upgrades category B entitlement to B+E and also confers entitlement to subcategory C1 and C1+E and, if category D or subcategory D1 is held, these are upgraded to category D+E or subcategory D1+E.
  • A test passed for category D+E upgrades category B and subcategory D1 to category B+E and subcategory D1+E respectively.
  • But it does not upgrade category C or subcategory C1 entitlements because the trailer size required for a category D+E test is smaller than that required for a category C+E or subcategory C1+E test.

Provisional Entitlement for Trailers

Since 1 January 1997 drivers are no longer able to sit a test in a heavy vehicle/trailer combination (eg category C+E or D+E) unless they have first passed a test and obtained a full licence in the corresponding rigid vehicle (eg category C or D).

This means that although drivers may have been driving a vehicle and trailer combination (towing weight) legitimately, under 'L' plates, they are not permitted to sit a trailer test using such a combination until a test has been passed in a rigid vehicle and a full licence obtained for that category.

This information is not intended to be a definitive statement of law.

Unladen Weight

The unladen weight of any vehicle is the vehicles own weight when not carrying any goods or burden. This is:
  • Inclusive of the body and all parts which are necessary to or ordinarily used with the vehicle or trailer when working on a road
  • Exclusive of water, fuel or accumulators used for the purpose of the supply of power for the propulsion of the vehicle

MAM - Maximum Authorised Mass

The term maximum authorised mass (MAM), which is also known as gross weight and permissible maximum weight, is the maximum weight of the vehicle that may be used on the road including the maximum load the vehicle may safely carry.

This is normally shown on a plate fitted to the vehicle.

If a vehicle is unlikely to be used at its potential maximum weight most vehicles may be downplated, i.e. the vehicles springs or other components can be changed, so that only a lighter load can be carried.

The maximum authorised mass or gross weight is a factor in determining what driving entitlement is required. To return to cars & vans categories - click HERE

Plated Weight

The maximum authorised mass should be shown on the departments manufacturing plate fitted to the vehicle.

This means the marking on a goods vehicle, by means of a ministry plate, showing the maximum weights for that particular vehicle e.g. maximum authorised mass, and in certain cases, train weight and towing weight.

Train Weight

Train weight is the combined MAM of the vehicle its permitted towing weight and the MAM of the trailer it is pulling.
Any Driver or Vehicle used on any Business of any form from the School teacher taking little Nikki home with a cut finger or the church warden taking the Alter Cloth to the dry cleaners - to the heavy goods vehicle on its way with 20 tonnes of white goods - And Understanding the allowed Towing Weight is All are part of Vehicles Duty of care VDOC Manager Job to Protect Them!

This means all must have "Business Insurance" of one type or another for all vehicles duty of care used on any business of that company or organisation. You must also include insurance on your Vehicles Duty of Care Driver Checklist!

Return From Towing Weight to UK Driving Licence

VDOC - Golden Rule

"It is not what you have done but what you can prove you have done!"

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