At a glance:

  • Rules that came into play in 2021 now allow drivers of all ages the same entitlements when it comes to towing a trailer or caravan
  • All drivers are now allowed to tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500 kg, without taking the B+E test
  • Learn more about why the updated regulations came into place
  • If you’re looking for more guidance on towing caravans, don’t miss our other content on the best cars for towing


In December 2021, the UK government changed the rules surrounding caravan and trailer towing. Previously, if you’d passed your driving test after the 1st of January 1997, then you had to take an additional driving test if you wanted to tow heavier trailers. However, the new rules mean you don’t have to anymore. Join us as we explore everything you need to know about the new regulations and how they might affect you. 

New rules for towing a trailer or caravan

Before December 2021, there were different rules for towing a caravan or trailer depending on when you passed your test, so knowing what you could and couldn’t tow was often confusing and unclear. You could face a heavy fine, six points on your licence, or even a complete driving ban for getting it wrong. 

However, the government has recently changed the towing regulations to allow drivers of all ages the same entitlements. The changes came into effect on the 16th of December 2021. 

But what exactly are the new rules and why have they changed? Let’s take a closer look.

Towing rules before December 2021

If you passed your driving test before the 1st of January 1997, there were (and still are) very few limits on what you can tow with a car or van. In most cases, the combined weight limit of your vehicle and trailer will be up to 8,250 kg maximum authorised mass (MAM). Maximum authorised mass refers to the total amount the vehicle can weigh when it’s fully loaded. 

However, drivers who passed their driving test on or after the 1st of January 1997, were limited to driving: 

  • A car or van weighing up to 3,500 kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750 kg MAM – not exceeding 4,250 kg in total.
  • Or, a trailer over 750 kg MAM, as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and vehicle was no more than 3,500 kg. 

If you fell under this category and needed to exceed these weight limits, you would’ve had to take a B+E test. This was another practical driving test involving a car and trailer. It included vehicle safety questions, a controlled stop, uncoupling and coupling the trailer to the car, as well as driving on the road with the trailer attached. 

The test lasted around one hour in total, and once drivers had passed the test they would receive a new licence with the category BE added to the table on the back.

Towing rules after December 2021

As of the 16th of December 2021, all drivers, regardless of when they passed their test, are now allowed to tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500 kg, without taking the B+E test. Great news, right?!

In most cases, this weight limit will be more than enough as it covers the majority of laden horsebox trailers and caravans. 

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will have automatically updated its records to reflect the change in the law. However, if you took your test on or before 1st January 1997, you won’t have received an updated category BE licence. Instead, this will just be added when you need a new photo licence, so either every 10 years or sooner if there’s a change in your personal details. 

If you passed your driving test before the 1st of January 1997, then the new regulations won’t affect your towing entitlement.

Should I do any training before towing a caravan or trailer?

A very good question! The B+E test has now been scrapped, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t prepare for towing a caravan or trailer. In fact, we strongly recommend that you do. 

Adding a trailer or caravan to your car not only adds significant weight but extends the length of your vehicle as well. Both of which will undoubtedly affect the way you drive. As a result, you’ll need to be more considerate of your speed, and take extra care when manoeuvring and turning, too. Driving with a trailer or caravan is very different to driving without one, and it’s definitely wise to prepare for the change as much as you can. 

Whilst the B+E test is no longer an official requirement, even the DVSA advises that you still prepare as if it was. You can find trailer driving instructors across the country who will be more than happy to provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to tow safely. 

Undertaking training will help keep everyone on the road safe and can go a long way to preventing accidents. It’s also worth noting that, if you’re found to be driving unsafely whilst towing a caravan or trailer, you can face a fine of up to £2,500, three points on your licence and even be banned from driving altogether. 

So you can see why having some tow training is beneficial. It’s also absolutely crucial that you familiarise yourself with the government’s towing safety checks. Our very own caravan towing guide has a wealth of useful information on the subject too.

What if I still want to take the B+E test?

Unfortunately, the DVSA stopped running the B+E test in September 2021. However, as we mentioned earlier, you will still be able to find driving instructors that can help you get to grips with the practical and theoretical aspects of caravan and trailer towing.

Why did the new regulations come into place?

As we’ve discussed, to have the ‘BE category’ added to your licence, in the past you would’ve needed to take the B+E test. However, carrying out these tests obviously takes time. Time which the DVSA feels would be better spent focusing on carrying out Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) tests instead. 

HGV tests are what you need to become a lorry or bus driver. And given the nation’s current shortage of qualified HGV lorry drivers, the DVSA hopes the towing changes will free up time to conduct more HGV tests instead. 

It’s expected that by dropping the B+E test, as many as 50,000 additional HGV appointments can be opened per year. In an attempt to increase the number of lorry drivers in the UK, the HGV test has also been simplified, with the reversing aspect and ‘uncoupling and recoupling’ element being removed.

Visit the Motors’ advice hub 

At Motors, we’re all about arming you with the tools you need to make the right decision for you. Our advice hub is home to an abundance of articles designed to make your life easier. 

If you’re looking for a car with caravan or trailer towing capabilities but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve put together a list of the best cars for towing caravans. Alternatively, you can also take a look at our tow car buying guide. From practical considerations to tips from the experts – it contains everything you need to make a well-rounded decision.

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