New rules for towing a trailer with a car from 16 December 2021

The rules about towing a trailer or caravan with a car changed on 16 December 2021. Find out how the changes affect you. From: Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, and Department for Transport Published 10 September 2021 Last updated 22 December 2021 — See all updates

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

Contents

  1. What you could tow before 16 December 2021
  2. What changed on 16 December 2021
  3. Driving a car and trailer for the first time
  4. If you’d booked a car and trailer driving test
  5. If you had previously passed a car and trailer driving test

The rules on what you can tow are different depending on when you passed your car driving test.

There are different rules for towing if you live in Northern Ireland.

What you could tow before 16 December 2021

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.

Check your car’s handbook to find out its gross train weight (GTW). This is the total allowable weight of the car plus the trailer plus the load.

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.

Driving a car and trailer for the first time

It’s best to take training from a driving instructor if you want to start driving a car and trailer.

The ‘National standard for driving cars and light vans’ tells you about the skills, knowledge and understanding you need to tow a trailer or caravan.

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