We are all well aware of the shortage of HGV drivers following a national pandemic and Brexit. The pandemic caused fewer lessons to be undertaken, fewer tests to be administered, and ultimately fewer HGV drivers available. Brexit is blamed for causing a considerable loss in the EU HGV drivers who prefer the stability and security of work within the EU.


survey conducted by the Road Haulage Association suggests that there is now a shortage of more than 100,000 qualified drivers in the UK, with close to 30% of HGV driver vacancies taking two months to fill.


To enable the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to offer more lorry tests to tackle this shortage, changes are being made to the laws surround towing laden caravans and trailers.


We take a look at the current caravan towing laws and what the changes will mean for UK Caravan owners.


Current Caravan Towing Laws


Licenses issued – 1996 and earlier 


If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997, you will not be affected by the changes to the law.


At the moment, you are allowed to drive a vehicle, and a trailer with a combined weight of up to 8,250kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM). MAM refers to the limit on how much a vehicle can weigh when it is loaded. You are also permitted to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.


Licenses issued between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013


If you passed your driving test between the above dates, you are currently permitted to drive:


  • a car or van up to 3500kg MAM towing a trailer up to 750kg MAM for a total weight of up to 4,250kg MAM.
  • A trailer over 750kg MAM; however, it must be no more than the unladen weight of the vehicle you are using to tow (up to 3,500kg)


The unladen weight is the weight of a vehicle when it is entirely empty of passengers, goods and any other items.


Licenses issued since 19 January 2013


If you passed your test on or after 19 January 2013, you are permitted to drive as follows:


  • a car or van up to 3500kg MAM towing a trailer up to 750kg MAM for a total weight of up to 4,250kg MAM.
  • A trailer heavier than 750kg as long as the combined MAM of the vehicle used to tow and the trailer is less than 3500kg.


You would have needed to pass a car and trailer driving test if your license was issued after 1 January 1997 and you wanted to tow anything heavier.


So what do the changes mean?


If you passed your car driving test on or after 1 January 1997, the changes to the law mean you will be allowed to tow trailers up to 3500kg MAM.


You do not need to do anything. The Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will automatically update your license details to show that you can tow trailers. Category BE will be added to your license when you replace the physical photocard.


At the moment, there is not a specific date set for this law to change. However, you can no longer book a car and trailer driving test, and if your test was planned for after 20 September 2021, it would have been automatically cancelled.


Until the date of the law change is announced, you must continue to follow the current rules for your license. You can be fined £1000, given up to 6 penalty points and even banned from driving if you tow anything heavier than permitted before the law changes.


With staycations and glamping on the rise, these changes to caravan towing rules will likely be welcomed by many. If the changes to the law mean you’ll jump behind the wheel and tow a caravan for the first time, we recommend taking training from a licensed driving instructor and following these safety checks before you set off.