Guide to caravan towing – licences and the right caravan for your car

Caravan magazine


Did you pass your driving test before January 1997?

You may drive a car towing a trailer/caravan with a combined weight of up to 8.25 tonnes, until your licence runs out at the age of 70. This entitlement is shown on your licence as C1E (107).

Did you pass your test after 1 January 1997?

You will have what is known as a category B entitlement. With this, you may drive a car towing a caravan provided:

• The caravan weighs no more than 750kg (this rules out most caravans) or…
• The combined maximum permitted weights of the car and caravan do not exceed 3500kg and…
• The MTPLM of the caravan does not exceed the kerbweight of the car.

MTPLM (Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass) is the maximum permitted weight of a caravan.

Experts don’t recommended towing a caravan heavier than the towcar regardless of your licence status.

If your car and caravan together weigh more than 3500kg you will need to take an additional test to upgrade your licences to category B+E. This gives you the same rights as pre-1997 licence holders.

The test is based on the large goods vehicle (LGV) driving test and lasts for around an hour. Professional tuition is advisable but not essential.

What happens when you reach the age of 70?

Driving licence entitlements expire when you reach the age of 70 and must be renewed. Keep your old licence (or a good copy) as proof of the entitlements you hold until your new licence arrives. 

On reaching the age of 70, drivers will retain their driving entitlement for Category B and Category B+E (provided Category B+E was held prior to the expiry date of their driving licence).

Category B+E entitles drivers to drive a motor vehicle (car, van or 4x4) not exceeding 3.5 tonnes Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM), drawing/towing any weight trailer/caravan within the prescribed maximum towing weight. In other words, it is only the weight of the towing vehicle that must not exceed this weight, the weight of the  trailer or caravan is not taken into account.

What happens if you have been disqualified?
If you are disqualified from driving for more than 56 days you’ll need to apply to renew your driving licence before you can return to driving. The new licence will only give you a category B entitlement regardless of what you had before. Therefore, if you wish to drive an outfit weighing more than 3500kg, you will have to take the test to upgrade the licence category to B+E.


Outfit matching – choosing the right caravan for your car

Before buying a caravan it’s really important to ensure the car you intend to use to tow it can do so safely and legally. For safe towing, it is generally accepted that the MTPLM of a caravan should not exceed 85% of the kerb weight of the tow car. Ensure, though, that this does not exceed the car manufacturer’s maximum recommended towing weight.

You can discover exactly which caravans your car can safely tow, with our useful online Caravan Towmatch Guide.

How much weight can your caravan carry?

When choosing a caravan think about the items you’ll want to carry and whether the caravan has sufficient payload for them. Items such as caravan movers and large solar panels can quickly gobble up a payload margin.

It is essential not to exceed the caravan’s Maximum Technical Permissible Mass (MTPLM). On UK-manufactured caravans this figure is normally on a plate attached to the side of the caravan, usually low down near the entrance door. It is the maximum weight that the caravan is designed to take and it should never be exceeded. Failure to comply could mean that your insurance company may refuse to pay out if you are involved in an accident.

Don’t overload!

If your caravan is found to weigh more than its MTPLM at a police or VOSA roadside check, you will be required to offload items before being allowed to continue your journey. You may also receive points on your licence and a fine.



More useful Caravan pages:


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