Are you towing legally?
Driving licence rules and what you can tow
The rules on what you can tow are different depending on when you passed your driving test. In short if you passed your test after 1/1/1997 then you may well be extremely restricted in terms of towing unless you pass the Trailer Test (B+E Driving Licence).
Licenses held from 1 January 1997
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can drive either:
a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500 kilograms (kg) Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM (with a combined weight of up to 4,250kg in total)
A trailer over 750kg MAM (with a combined GROSS* weight of the vehicle and trailer up to 3,500kg in total)
For anything heavier you need to take a category B+E driving test.
* GROSS Weight of the vehicle and trailer is the max both can possibly weigh – NOT WHAT THE WEIGHT OF VEHICLE AND TRAILER IS AT ANY TIME.
For example if the weight of your vehicle is 1700kg and your trailer with its load is 1400kg you do not have a gross weight of 3100kg – it is the combined gross weights of both car and trailer that matters.
You need to know the gross weight of your vehicle and your trailer.
Our Landrover freelander weighs 2000kg, but has a gross weight of 2600kg. The trailer we use weighs 650kg but has a gross weight of 2700kg.
Our gross weight is therefore ALWAYS 5300kg – even when towing the trailer when it’s empty. BEWARE THIS IS THE MOST COMMON MISTAKE MADE WHEN BELIEVING YOU ARE TOWING LEGALLY.
Licenses held from 19 January 2013
From 19 January 2013, drivers passing a category B (car and small vehicle) test can tow:
small trailers weighing no more than 750kg
trailers weighing more than 750kg (this usually means anything with brakes) , where the combined GROSS * (see above) weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer isn’t more than 3,500kg
If you want to tow a trailer weighing more than 750kg, when the combined GROSS weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is more than 3,500kg, you’ll have to pass a further test and get B+E entitlement on your licence.
You’ll then be able to tow trailers up to 3,500kg
Licenses held before 1 January 1997
If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997 you are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM.
This is the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road.
You also have entitlement to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM
Towing heavier combinations (vehicles over 3500kg)
If you want to tow heavier combinations, you’ll have to first apply for provisional entitlement to the new C1+E entitlement. You’ll then have to pass the category C theory test and C1+E practical test.
Once you’ve done this you can drive vehicles and trailers with a combined weight of up to 12 tonnes MAM.
Gross Trailer Weight
This is the max weight a trailer is permitted to carry , including its own weight. So if you have a trailer that weighs 700kg but has a Gross Max Weight of 2500kg then the latter is classed as its real weight for legal towing purposes
Gross MAM of your Vehicle & Trailer = Max Gross Vehicle Weight + Max Gross Trailer Weight
The possible Penalties for Towing Without a Valid Licence
9 Penalty Points (3 For the missing Licence entitlement and 6 for no Insurance – owing to fact you are driving without a licence)
A Maximum fine of approx £5000
Possible impounding of your vehicle and trailer
Employer fines of up to £1000 per employee prosecution
Is it worth the risk?
Even if you believe you are entitled to tow legally our advice is to get some “trailer training” if you have little or no experience before you consider towing anything. Our “introduction to towing” courses are informative and enjoyable. It will give you the chance to gain some basic skills that you can demonstrate when using your own trailer without the fear of looking stupid.