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05 May 2022, 14:29

Towing a trailer or caravan

Towing a trailer or caravan

The rules have changed, thank you DVLA!

As of the 16th December 2021 the kind people at the DVLA decided to let everyone have a licence upgrade. Up to that point anyone who passed their driving test after the 1st January 1997 was required to sit and pass a separate 'Trailer Test' allowing them to gain B and E categories on their driving licence.

The impact of this felt particularly hard in the equestrian world where anyone with my little pony had to pass what was called the trailer test to pull their horsebox. But that has all changed and from the 16th December 2021 anyone who has passed their test after the 1st January 1997 will automatically be awarded B and E categories.

Similarly the entire caravan industry was facing a future of no car owners being able to tow a caravan without going away to sit and pass a trailer test, but thanks to the DVLA all that has changed.

What is b and e licence categories?

Simply put B and E categories means that you can tow a horsebox, trailer or caravan without having to sit a separate driving test.

It is however slightly more complicated and it also depends on when you passed your test. Officially the DVLA state:

Licences issued before 1 January 1997

  • You are not affected by the changes if you passed your car driving test before 1 January 1997.
  • You're usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM). View your driving licence information to check.
  • You're also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.
  • MAM is the limit on how much the vehicle can weigh when it's loaded.

Licences issued from 1 January 1997 to 18 January 2013

If you passed your car driving test from 1 January 1997 to 18 January 2013, you were allowed to drive either of the following:

  • a car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (up to 4,250kg in total)
  • a trailer over 750kg MAM, as long as it is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle (up to 3,500kg in total)
  • You've had to pass a car and trailer driving test if you want to tow anything heavier.

Licences issued from 19 January 2013

If you passed your car driving test from 19 January 2013, you were allowed to drive either of the following:

  • a car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (up to 4,250kg in total)
  • a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg
  • You've had to pass a car and trailer driving test if you want to tow anything heavier.

What changed on 16 December 2021

If you passed your car driving test from 1 January 1997, you're now allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM.

DVLA will update your driving licence record to show that you're allowed to tow trailers. You do not need to contact DVLA for this to happen. It will be done automatically. You'll get category BE added to your driving licence when you next apply to get a new driving licence.

If you passed your car driving test before 1 January 1997, you are not affected by the change.

So what is mam?

MAM is short for maximum authorised mass. Maximum authorised mass is the total weight of a vehicle when it's loaded and represents the absolute limit a car can safely tow.

There are two ways to understand the MAM (maximum authorised mass), you can either:

  • Find out the your car's kerb weight and the MAM is 85% of your car's kerb weight


  • Use and find a ⦁ car or ⦁ van and check the “spec” section where we list the towing capacity of cars and vans typically used for towing.

To give you some idea of some popular cars' MAM:

What else should I consider?

  • Horseboxes

    The changes certainly allow you pull a horsebox so long as your car can pull the MAM of your horsebox, but considering the but the British Horse Society (BHS) strongly advise that people seek out training before they take their horsebox out on the road. Particularly if it's their first time towing or driving a horse box.

  • Improving your towing skills

    There are plenty of independent driving test companies specialising in towing skills based all around the UK.

  • Towing FAQs
    • Anything you tow must be 2.55m or less
    • Whatever you tow must be fitted with a number plate the same as the towing vehicle.
    • The maximum length is 7m
    • The towing vehicle must be fitted with
      • Towing mirrors allowing you to see the road behind you
      • Number plates with the same number as your car or van
      • Trailer lights
    • Stick to the speed limits
      • 30 mph in built-up areas
      • 50 mph on single carriageways
      • 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways

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