Update on law for towing trailers and licence requirements

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In September the government announced a package of measures to streamline the HGV test process and changes to car/trailer licence requirements. The move was designed to free up driving examiner time to help tackle the backlog of HGV driver tests.

One measure announced was the ending of the requirement that car drivers must take a practical test to get a B+E driving licence entitlement to drive heavier weight trailers over 750kg.

Rules in place until further notice

Trailer tests ended on 20 September but the laws on driving a car with a trailer and the requirement for drivers to have a B+E entitlement have not yet changed and it is not known yet when the law will be amended.

Until the law is actually changed all the current rules remain in place, with the legal requirement for car drivers who first passed their car test after 1 January 1997 to have passed a B+E practical test to drive trailers over 750kg in certain circumstances.

What are the current driving licence rules?

Licences issued before 1 January 1997

Drivers are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 maximum authorised mass (MAM). Check your driving licence and what entitlements to drive you have here.

MAM is the limit on how much the vehicle can weigh when it is fully loaded. Get explanations on vehicle weights here.

Licences issued 1 January 1997 to 18 January 2013

If you passed your car test from 1 January 1997 to 18 January 2013 you can currently drive:

  • A car or van up to 3,500kg towing a trailer up to 750kg (4,250kg max car/trailer combination).
  • A trailer over 750kg as long as it is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle (3,500kg max car/trailer combination).

To tow anything heavier a car and trailer driving test is required.

Licences issued from 19 January 2013

If you passed your car driving test from 19 January 2013 you can drive either of the following:

  • A car or van up to 3,500kg towing a trailer of 750kg (max car/trailer combination 4,250kg).
  • A trailer over 750kg as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg.

A car and trailer test is needed to tow anything heavier.

What will the new rules be?

Under the new rules anyone who passed their car driving test from 1 January 1997 will be allowed to drive a car up to 3,500kg and tow a trailer up to 3,500kg.

New trailer regulations: your questions answered

I passed my test before 1 January 1997 and have grandfather rights to drive car/trailer combinations up to 8,250kg – will I keep this?

Yes. Drivers who first passed their car driving test before 1 January 1997 will keep their grandfather rights.

What can I do until the law changes?

Until the law changes all drivers must follow the current rules.

What are the penalties if I do not follow the rules?

Until the law is changed if you fail to follow the rules you could be fined up to £1,000 and get six penalty points.

What about safety?

The recommendation is to take training from a driving instructor if you want to start driving a car and trailer.

Information on why it is important to learn how to tow is here.

Information on the safety checks to carry out when towing a trailer is here.

What are the health and safety rules on driving and towing a trailer at work?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 there is a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who might be affected by their business activities. The self employed have a duty to ensure their own health and safety and that of the public as well.

Under the Provision and Use of Equipment at Work Regulations (PUWER) there is a duty on employers to make sure any equipment used for work is suitable for the purpose intended, maintained and that persons using the equipment are trained and competent. One way to demonstrate that persons are trained and competent is to have staff take training on driving a car and trailer.

Will my driving licence be updated?

When the law changes DVLA will update your driving licence record to show you are allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg. When licences are renewed and a new photocard licence issued it will show that category B+E has been added.

I paid for a trailer test scheduled after 20 September – what happens?

Trailer tests ended on 20 September. If you had booked the test yourself DVSA will automatically cancel the test and refund the fee.

If you have booked through a driving instructor, contact the instructor to discuss what happens next.

Further advice is available from CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.

Last edited: 15:40 on 11 November 2021

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