What are the new rules for towing a caravan?
The rules for towing a caravan or a trailer with a car are changing this autumn. We’ve put together this guide to keep you up to date on everything you need to know. We’ll take you through the current rules, the new rules and what to do if you had a test booked in for a car and trailer driving test.
The current rules for towing a caravan
The current rules are different depending on when you passed your driving test.
Drivers who passed their test before 1 January 1997: You’ll usually be allowed to drive a car and caravan or trailer combination with a maximum authorised mass (MAM - the limit on how much a vehicle can weigh when loaded) of up to 8,250kg. The good news for these drivers is that they won’t be affected by the new changes.
Drivers who passed their tests between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013:
- You can drive a car or a van with a MAM of 3,500kg while towing a caravan or trailer which has a MAM of 750kg.
- A caravan or trailer that has a MAM of more than 750kg as long as this is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.
Drivers who passed their test after 18th January 2013:
The rules are slightly different for those drivers who passed their tests more recently. They can still drive a tow car with a MAM of up to 3,500kg with a caravan which has a MAM of 750kg. However, if they want to drive a caravan with a MAM of more than 750kg, the combined MAM of the trailer and tow car must not exceed 3,500kg.
In the past, you’ve had to take a test if you want to tow anything heavier. From autumn 2021, however, many drivers will now be able to tow heavier caravans and trailers following some simplified rules.
If you want to double check the vehicles you’re currently allowed to tow with your driving licence, you can use this service on the Government website.
The new rules for towing a caravan
The new rules still take into account when you passed your original driving test, so those that passed their test before January 1 1997 will still be able to tow a vehicle and caravan combination of up to 8,250kg MAM.
If you passed your test from 1 January 1997, you will be able to tow caravans and trailers with a MAM of 3,500kg when the rules change.
When do the rules change?
The exact date has not yet been confirmed but is expected to be later in the autumn.
What do you need to do?
The DVLA will update your driving licence record and the next time you’re issued a photocard it will have category BE added to it. It will happen automatically so you don’t need to do anything.
What to do in the meantime
In the meantime, make sure you adhere to the current rules as you’ll get a hefty fine if you tow anything heavier before the rules change. If you do tow anything heavier without the correct supervision, you could be fined up to £1,000 and may face a driving ban as well as six points on your licence.
If you do tow anything heavier, the person supervising you must be at least 21 years old and have had a category BE on their licence for a minimum of three years. You must also have L plates on the front of your towcar and the rear of the caravan.
What to do if you had a car and trailer test booked
You may have had a car and trailer test booked in, however, these are no longer going ahead. This will have been cancelled for you by the DVLA and they will send you a refund for the cost of the test.
If your test was booked through an instructor, get in touch with them in order to find out how to receive your refund.
Unfortunately, you won’t now be able to book a test and as the new rules aren’t being implemented until later in the year, you may have to wait longer than expected to be able to tow a heavier caravan or trailer. You also won’t be able to claim compensation or get a refund for the costs of any training you may have done in preparation for a car and trailer test. You also won’t be able to claim any money back on car and trailer tests previously completed.