In the United Kingdom, the rules about towing a caravan or trailer with a car changed on 16 December 2021.

UK Rules for Towing a Caravan Before 16 December 2021. 

If You Qualified to Drive Before 1 January 1997

If you qualified to drive in the UK before 1 January 1997, you will not be affected by the recent changes.

You’re entitled to drive a car and caravan or trailer combination of up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM). MAM sounds complicated but is just the official limit on how much a vehicle can weigh when it’s fully loaded.

You can also drive a minibus with a trailer of more than 750kg MAM.

If You Qualified to Drive Between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013

If you got your licence between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013, you were entitled to drive a van or car with a MAM of 3,500kg, and tow a trailer up to 750kg MAM. The combined weight of your car/van and trailer could be up to 4,250kg.

You were also permitted to drive a trailer over 750kg MAM, so long as it didn’t weigh more than the unladen weight of the car or van (up to 3,500kg in total). If you wanted to tow anything heavier than that, you would have needed to do the specialised driving test for a car and trailer. 

If You Qualified to Drive on or After 19 January 2013

If you passed the driving test on or after 19 January 2013, you were allowed to drive a van or car with a weight of up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM, again giving a maximum total combined weight of 4,250kg.

You were also allowed to drive with a trailer over 750kg MAM if the combined MAM of the towing vehicle and trailer was no more than 3,500kg.

To tow anything heavier, you’d have been required to undergo a car and trailer test.

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Latest UK Towing Rules From 16 December 2021

The new regulations apply to what you are allowed to tow and vary according to when you became a qualified driver.

Can I Tow a Caravan on My Licence?

If you qualified to drive before 1 January 1997, you are not affected by the new towing rules; however, if you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997, you may now tow a trailer up to 3,500kg MAM, provided the car and trailer total weight is less than the GWT of the car, as determined by the car manufacturer.

The gross train weight, or GTW, is the total permitted combined weight of the car, trailer and load. If you’re not sure about the weight of your car, you can check the handbook where it should give details.

The GTW might also be listed on your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) plate which is normally under the bonnet or inside the driver’s door.

You don’t need to get in touch with the DVLA to make any changes as the DVLA will automatically update your licence to add category BE for towing trailers.

Is There an Age Limit for Towing a Caravan in the UK?

There is no minimum age requirement for towing a caravan, but once you reach the age of 70, your driving licence expires and you must renew it every three years to continue driving.

You can use this tool on to see whether you are old enough or hold the required type of licence to tow a caravan or trailer with various types of cars.

Towing: licence and age requirements

Driving a Car and Trailer

If you want to drive a car and trailer, it's best to get some proper training from a driving instructor. You should also check out the 'National standard for driving automobiles and light vans' which explains how to tow a trailer or caravan and what abilities, information, and understanding you'll need.

Towing Rules in Northern Ireland

These rules apply to cars towing trailers or caravans and, as with England, Scotland and Wales, MAM refers to the Maximum Authorised Mass of vehicles and trailers.

Category B Vehicles in NI

Category B vehicles can have up to eight passenger seats and weigh up to 3,500kgs. They can be coupled with a trailer up to 750kgs MAM, provided the combination does not exceed a Maximum Authorised Mass of 4,250kgs.

Emergency Towing

A category B licence holder is exempt from weight limits if they are towing a broken-down vehicle from a location that poses a danger or impediment to other drivers.

Category B+E Vehicles in NI

Category B+E permits the sharing of vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with trailers weighing more than 750kg MAM, but not exceeding 3,500kg. MAM and the overall weight cannot exceed 7,000kgs MAM. Regulations governing construction and use may also apply.

To qualify for this entitlement, holders of category B licences who passed their category B exam on or after 1 January 1997 must take an additional practical test for category B+E.

Category B licensees who passed their test before this date already have B+E entitlement. There is no theory test for category B+E 

B+E Tested Before 19 January 2013

If you did your category B+E test before 19 January 2013 (in the United Kingdom) and passed, you will retain your existing eligibility to tow a trailer weighing more than 3,500kg MAM as long as construction and use regulations are followed.

Towing a Caravan in Northern Ireland

Existing guidelines advise that a caravan's laden weight should not exceed 85 percent of the car's unladen weight. Although this is not a legal requirement, the suggestion is a good one and intended to improve towing stability.

Caravans with a higher weight limit can be towed if the driver holds the appropriate class of licence. However, vehicle manufacturers typically recommend a maximum trailer weight for their vehicle depending on its design and intended use.

Recommendations For Towing a Caravan or Trailer Safely in the UK

When towing a caravan or trailer, it is vital to follow the guidelines:

  • Never overload the caravan or trailer
  • Observe the speed limit for towing a caravan
  • Check that your vehicle is capable of towing the caravan or trailer
  • Make sure that combined weights do not exceed permitted limits
  • Check that your insurance policy covers you for towing
  • Always carry out safety inspections before towing
  • Carry the appropriate safety equipment
  • Understand the rules and stay within the law

Safety is paramount and you should always make sure you know how to tow a caravan or trailer safely and legally. There are some excellent guidelines available from the DVSA.

Basic Safety Checks Before You Tow

If you are in doubt about how much weight your vehicle can legally tow, or the types of caravans or trailers it may tow, please contact the DVLA.