Data Sheet

#40 Driving Licences

#40 #40 Driving Licences
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3: How to check your maximum towing capacity
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How to check your maximum towing capacity

From the VIN plate, mentioned earlier, take the GVW (2190kg) from the GTW (3990kg) leaving 1800kg, this is the maximum towing capacity for the vehicle at its maximum weight or MAM.


1 January 1997 - the crucial date

A major reduction in driving licence entitlements occurs for those drivers who have passed their car driving test from 1 January 1997. For these drivers the weight of trailer you are entitled to tow is diminished considerably below the entitlements of drivers with licences gained before 1 January 1997. Further minor changes occurred for drivers taking their test from 19 January 2013.

Pre January 1997 photocard licence

Pre January 1997 photocard licence

Post 1 January 1997 photocard licence with limited entitlements

Post 1 January 1997 photocard licence with limited entitlements

Driving licence entitlements gained from a car driving test passed before 1 January 1997

Your car driving licence will show categories which include: B, BE, C1, C1E(107). Those who last updated their licence before June 1990 should refer to DVLA website for the meaning of earlier categories.

  • B with BE category entitles you to drive a vehicle with a MAM up to 3,500kg and tow a trailer up to  the towing limit of the vehicle within specified dimensional limits.
  • C1 with C1E entitles you to drive a vehicle with MAM up to 7,500kg and tow a caravan/trailer where the combined MAM of tow vehicle and trailer does not exceed 8,250kg and the trailer MAM does not exceed the unladen weight of the vehicle.

The category C1E(107) category shown on your licence is not the same as the category C1E shown on the current DVLA list of entitlements. The suffix 107 indicates your entitlement has a combined MAM limited to 8,250kg not 12,000kg as a specific test has not been passed.

For the majority of people these entitlements enable a full range of camping units to be used other than where a large tow vehicle and trailer would push the combined MAM over the 8,250kg limit or if you wish to drive a larger American RV type motorhome with MAM in excess of 7,500kg.


Driving licence gained from a car driving test from 1 January 1997 and before 19 January 2013

Your car driving licence will permit you to drive vehicles in category B, including:

  • A vehicle (including a motorhome) with a MAM not exceeding 3,500kg
  • The above vehicle towing a trailer not exceeding 750kg.
  • The above vehicle towing a trailer in excess of 750kg providing the combined MAM of tow vehicle and trailer does not exceed 3,500kg.A Range Rover Discovery towing a heavy caravan like this cannot be towed with a post 1 January 1997 driving licence without taking a further test. With a category B licence a vehicle such as this with a MAM over 2,750kg can only tow a trailer with a MAM of 750kg such as the folding camper.
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With this category B licence you need to select both the tow vehicle and caravan carefully to maximise the weight of caravan you can tow. For example whereas a heavy, powerful tow car like a Land Rover Discovery is normally considered ideal for larger caravans because it has a MAM of around 3,200kg, a category B licence will limit you to towing a trailer not exceeding 750kg.

A Range Rover towing a heavy caravan (image to the right) cannot be towed with a post 1st January 1997 driving licence without taking a further test. With a category B licence a vehicle such as this with a MAM over 2,750kg can only tow a trailer with a MAM of 750kg such as the folding camper.

A folding camper is an ideal choice for large and small vehicles weighing around 750kg (MAM)

A folding camper is an ideal choice for large and small vehicles weighing around 750kg (MAM)

The secret is to find a car which is heavy enough and powerful enough to be practically competent to tow your caravan while being light enough to keep you within your licence requirements. In many cases a family saloon or estate car such as a VW Passat or Ford Mondeo will provide an excellent balance of towing competence with low enough MAM to provide for a reasonable size of caravan. To tow a caravan with a car with a combined MAM over 3,500kg you need to upgrade your licence. See "Are you Legal" in the next section for examples of what outfits are and are not legal.