Towing and driving licenses | All you need to know

Towing a caravan

Many people are baffled over whether they need a special driving licence to tow a caravan. It is essential that you know the limitations of your driving licence before you tow and in fact, even before you buy.

To ensure all your paperwork is correct and you can go on that holiday of a lifetime, here’s our step-by-step guide to answer all your questions.

Before 1st January 1997

Step 1: Did you pass your driving test before the 1st January 1997? If yes then you will automatically be able to drive a heavier car and caravan combination.

You will be able to drive a vehicle with a Maximum Authorised Mass of up to 8,250kg and tow a normal caravan or trailer as long as it is within the towing limit of the tow vehicle. The reason for this is that all driving licences issued before this date includes the B+E category.

If you passed your test after 1st January 1997, it gets a bit more complicated.

After 1st January 1997

Step 2: Did you pass your test after the 1st January 1997? The standard driving licence issued after this date covers categories B and B1. This means you can drive a vehicle up to 3,500kg (B) and also tow a trailer up to 750kg behind it. If you have a light car you can tow a heavier caravan but the combined weight must not be more than 3,500kg. Sounds simple enough? There are some finer print details which make it more complicated.

It is the official Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of the caravan that’s considered, not what it actually weighs with your holiday items and essentials inside.. To complicate matters further, the MAM of your caravan must also be lighter than the weight of your car.

If you want to drive a larger caravan than this, you are required to pass an additional driving test to add the B+E category to your licence.

Warning: It is advised that you have some professional tuition before taking the test.


Step 3: Once you’ve checked your driving licence the next step is matching your car to your caravan. You need to make sure that your combination is going to be stable and comfortable on the road. Start by checking the handbook for your car to find the kerbweight and use this information to guide your caravan search.

Handy tip: Multiply the kerbweight by 85/100 and this will give you the important ’85 per cent’ figure.

Once that is sorted check the towing limit for your particular model of car in the handbook. Is it higher than the 85 per cent figure? If so, you can begin to look for a caravan up to the 85 per cent limit. If not, you’ll be restricted to the lower towing limit.

As you can see, you need to be informed and commit to some research before investing in a caravan. You should invest some thought and take your time in choosing the right caravan for you; all the holidays and flexibility are worth the initial effort and checks.


Please get in touch if you have any further questions.


Posted in Blog, Top Tips.