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New UK towing rules confirmed: What can I tow?

All car drivers no longer need to take another test to tow a trailer or caravan, changing previous EU regulations which the UK is no longer obliged to use.

The Department for Transport said the move will allow around 30,000 more HGV driving tests to be conducted every year.

The change, which had now been implemented, was originally due to come into force from 15 November 2021 but the government later delayed the update while it awaited “parliamentary approvals”.

Drivers that passed their car driving test after 1 January 1997 can now tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM.

The DVLA will update driving licence records to reflect the change.

Related: Can I drive a motorhome?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “From Inverness to St Ives, HGV drivers are helping to keep the country running, and have been throughout the pandemic.

“The shortage of drivers is a global problem, but we’ve been taking action here in the UK to help industry leaders attract drivers and build a more resilient sector.

“We’ve already delivered 50 per cent more tests than were available before the pandemic, but today’s additional measures will deliver up to 50,000 more a year, helping more and more people to kickstart their career as a well-paid HGV driver.”

The changes follow a public consultation over the summer, which saw thousands of respondents, including industry leaders, support the move as a positive step to help the sector tackle the lorry driver shortage currently affecting countries around the world.

While it’s not mandatory, it’s recommended that first-timers get trailer training.

The DVSA’s ‘national standard for driving cars and light vans’ advises on the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to tow a trailer or caravan.

New caravan and trailer towing rules

If you passed your car driving test from 1 January 1997, you can tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM.

The DVLA will update your driving licence record to show that you’re allowed to tow trailers and you’ll get category BE added to your driving licence when you get a new photocard driving licence.

You do not need to contact DVLA for this to happen, it will be done automatically.

Car and trailer driving tests stopped from 20 September, 2021 and you can no longer book or take a car and trailer driving test.

If you passed your car driving test before 1997, there are few limits on what you can tow with a car or van, provided you don’t exceed the vehicle’s maximum towing capability, and that the car and trailer combination doesn’t exceed 8,250kg.

What were the old towing rules?

The rules remain unchanged for anyone who passed their test before 1 January 1997.

However, for drivers who passed their driving test on or after January 1, 1997, they were limited to driving the following:
 - A car or van up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM – not exceeding 4,250kg in total.
- A trailer over 750kg MAM, as long as it’s no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle (up to 3,500kg in total).

For anything else above that, an additional driving test was needed.

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Abandon new caravan and trailer towing rules, campaigners urge government - Van Life Matters October 2, 2021 at 3:30 pm

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