Towing licensing rules explained

Police in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire (BCH) have been urging fleets to check processes around towing policies following on from a driver being stopped for driving without a correct licence and failing to secure a load. They reported that this type of offence was frequently seen as younger drivers and companies are unaware of the legal wording.

Driving without the correct licence carries a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points. And if caught driving with an insecure load, drivers can face a further minimum £100 fine.

If your fleet sees driver towing, please see below the tow licensing rules.

What are the tow licensing rules?

Due to the introduction of successive European Directives on driver licensing, the rules which govern the ability to drive a vehicle and trailer combination can be complex.

Driving licences issued from 1990 use the following categories for small vehicles and trailers.

Category B:
Vehicle with gross weight up to (and including) 3.5 tonnes and a trailer up to 750kg maximum authorised mass (MAM). Also allows the towing of a trailer over 750kg MAM provided both of the following conditions are met:

  • The sum of the vehicle MAM and trailer MAM does not exceed 3.5 tonnes.
  • The sum of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the drawing vehicles.

Category B+E:
Combination of a vehicle in category B and a trailer over 750kg gross weight.

For a driver who took their test before January 1 1997, they would normally have category B and B+E on the licence.

For a driver who took their test on or after January 1 1997 will have category B on their licence, and in order to gain B+E the driver would need to take and pass an additional test.

And finally, due to a limit placed on newly-acquired B+E entitlement holders implemented by the third EU Directive, any driver gaining a B+E entitlement after January 19 2013 is limited to a trailer of no more than 3,500Kg MAM.

Our commercial vehicle experts are on hand to support if you have any questions or queries. Find out more here.