Towing Touring Caravans & Trailers Safely
Towing a caravan or trailer can be daunting if you have never done it before, we set out some steps you can take to build confidence and ensure you are qualified and licensed to tow in the UK
The first thing you should be aware of is that if you passed your driving test after 1997 you will probably require an additional driving test for competence of parts B & E. If you passed before 1997 you will have limited permission to tow with a vehicle. Check the back of your UK drivers license card and all your permissions will be listed.
The Government has published Inf30: ‘Requirements for towing trailers in Great Britain’ which provides guidance on driving license requirements and eligibility for towing trailers and caravans.
Our FAQs below help you check your eligibility to tow, if you are still unsure you can contact the DLVA and they should be able to check your status.
UK Caravan & Trailer Towing FAQs
Check the back of your card license and you will see the list of your valid classifications:
If you passed your driving test prior to 1997 you are probably entitled to tow most caravans or trailers by a suitable tow vehicle you are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass)
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can:
- Drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500kg towing a caravan or trailer up to 750kg MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass)
- Tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg
If you want to tow a caravan or trailer weighing more than 750kg, when the combined weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is more than 3,500kg, you will need to obtain the B+E enhanced licence by completing additional training and your ‘B+E Driving Test’.
You can book a B+E Car & Trailer test via the .GOV website here:
Whilst it is not compulsory to do a tow training course prior to taking your test, it is often the best way to build some practical skills and experience to help you prepare for and successfully pass your B+E driving test.
There are various ways to complete a caravan or trailer towing course, some local driving schools offer towing courses. Alternatively the 2 main caravan clubs also run regular courses:
The Caravan & Motorhome Club run courses in 13 locations nationwide in partnership with training college and driving centres.
Safe To Tow Checklist
Checking you are legally entitled to tow is essential but it is also important to feel safe and confident to tow a caravan or trailer. As covered earlier completing a towing course provides a great starting point, gaining experience it vital to competent towing.
AA & RAC recommend making and adhering to a safe towing checklist. We have listed some key points of action you could include in your safe towing checklist below:
- Correct Equipment – Tow bars should only be fitted if they are ‘type approved’. A tow bar must meet UK & EU regulations for compatibility with your car.
- Number Plate – Your tow vehicle number plate must match the number plate on your caravan or trailer.
- Check You Are Good To Go – Always double check your tow ball and hitch are ‘engaged’ and ‘locked on’. If you have an anti snaking device ensure it is also engaged and set before you begin your journey. Check all your lights, indicators and brake lights are working on your tow vehicle and caravan or trailer. Ensure your caravan or trailers contents/load is balanced. Ensure your tyres are the correct pressure with no visible signs of wear or damage.
- Never Over Load – Do not over load your caravan or trailer, keep heavy items stored and strapped in/down wherever possible.
- Gas Turned Off & Stored Safely – If you have any gas bottles ensure they are turned off and stored safely.
- Time & Space – Give yourself more time and space for everything, especially when turning/taking corners. Ensure you drive smoothly, think ahead and try not to make last minute or erratic manoeuvres.
- Sensible Speeds – Never exceed 50mph on single carriageways and do exceed 60mph on dual carriageways.
- Passenger Safety – You should never carry passengers in a caravan or trailer when it is being towed, this includes pets.
- Livestock – Animals should only be transported by a competent driver in designated livestock and animal trailers, it is also wise to display exterior trailer signage indicating you are transporting live animals, to notify other road users to show caution.