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The rules for towing a trailer or caravan with a car are changing this autumn...

20/09/2021
industry news / new caravans / pre-owned caravans / safety


The rules for towing a trailer or caravan with a car are changing this autumn. The changes will mean that anyone who passed their driving test after 1 January 1997 will be permitted to tow trailers (or caravans) up to 3,500kg MAM (maximum authorised mass) without having to take a separate test.

Under previous rules, those who passed their standard driving test between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013 were allowed to drive a car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (up to 4,250kg in total) or tow 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).

Towing

Those who passed their driving tests after 19 January 2013 were permitted to drive a car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (up to 4,250kg in total) or tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg.

Up until now, to tow anything heavier, an additional car and trailer driving test had to be taken, but these have now been discontinued and can no longer be booked. However, the law will not change until later this year (date tbc), so until then, you must adhere to the existing rules in accordance with your personal licence.

Please note that if you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997, you will not be affected by these changes. You will still be permitted to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg MAM or a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM, but please double check your driving licence information to confirm this.

Once these new rules officially come into force, the DVLA will automatically update your driving licence record to show that you’re allowed to tow trailers. Category BE will be added to your driving licence when you next get a new photocard driving licence (there’s no need to contact the DVLA).

What does this mean for existing or aspiring caravanners?

  • Anyone who passed their tests before 1 January 1997 will not be affected by the new rules.
  • Those who passed after 1 January 1997 will be able to tow up to 3,500kg on their standard licence - this covers all caravans on the market so it’s one less thing to worry about!
  • It’s essential to remember that while these new rules will allow you to tow up to 3,500kg, your car must be big enough to enable you to tow your caravan of choice safely. Find out more about towing and weight limits by reading Our guide to towing and then be sure to check your vehicle’s MAM (maximum authorised mass) before you purchase a caravan.
  • Although even the heaviest twin axle caravan is no more than 2,000kg unladen, you should keep in mind that loading your caravan with your things will of course add weight to it. Things such as BBQs, furniture and kitchenware can include some heavy items so you should be cautious about overloading (keeping your vehicle’s towing weight limit in mind).
  • Remember that the distribution of weight is crucial in order to ensure good handling when towing, so when packing your caravan,  take the time to distribute the weight appropriately.

Get in touch if you have any questions for us or keep your eye on the Government page for updates on when these new rules will come into force.



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