WHAT van you can drive depends on the type of licence for the vehicle you are driving.
Get it wrong and you risk a fine, penalty points on your driving licence, or even disqualification. In addition you are likely to invalidate the van’s insurance, and employers can get into serious trouble.
So what van can you drive? Vans fall into the standard UK driving licence (category B) that entitles holders to drive any car or van with an unladen weight of up to 3.5 tonnes. This can be found under section 14 on the back of any UK photocard licence.
For drivers who passed their test between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013*, this also allows the driver to tow a trailer of up to 750kg without any further training or test provided the combined weight of the trailer and the towing vehicle doesn’t exceed 4,250kg.
You can tow a trailer that weighs more than 750kg, but two conditions then apply:
- The combined weight of the vehicle and the trailer must not exceed 3.5 tonnes
- The weight of the trailer must not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle
(For example, if the unladen weight of your van is 1.5 tonnes, the weight of the trailer must not exceed an additional 1.5 tonnes.)
In order to tow vehicles and trailers that exceed these allowances, drivers must be in possession of a B+E entitlement.
Drivers who passed their driving test before 1 January 1997 automatically hold this entitlement, but a separate test is required if you passed your test after this date. If you are unsure, you can check this by reviewing the back of your photocard licence.
Drivers who passed before 1997 have another advantage – they are permitted to drive vehicles that weigh up to 7.5 tonnes which most people would call a small lorry rather than a van. They can still tow a trailer behind the vehicle provided the combination of towing vehicle and trailer doesn’t exceed 8,250kg.
It is worth noting that whichever driving licence entitlements you hold, it is essential you keep your driving records up-to-date. (Business van managers take note.) You must inform the DVLA about any changes to your licence including endorsements, disqualifications and even a change of address. It is also mandatory to have your photocard licence renewed every 10 years to allow the photograph to be updated.
Check out What vans you should buy.
* For drivers who pass their test from 19 January 2013, the3rd EU Directive on Driver Licensing has come into effect, which changes the rules. Check this link.