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Driver Licensing Law

What licence do you need?

We are here to make sure you and your horse are safe at all times, especially on the road.

Horses often need to be transported on public highways. Towing a horse trailer or driving a horsebox requires different categories of driving licence, depending on the vehicle or vehicle/trailer combination.

The type of licence you need depends on the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM). This is found on either the manufacturer's plate or the ‘Ministry Plate’ (vehicles over 3,500kg).

This table, taken from direct.gov.uk (opens in a new window), shows you the requirements of each licence category. You may also find this VOSA leaflet (pdf) useful.

Category held   What you are entitled to drive
B Vehicles with a MAM not exceeding 3,500kg. You may tow a trailer with a MAM not exceeding 750kg (e.g. a small garden trailer).
You may tow a trailer with a MAM exceeding 750kg. However, you must fulfil the following conditions:
- The actual weight of the vehicle and trailer may not exceed 3,500kg.
- The actual weight of the trailer may not exceed the unladen weight of the drawing vehicle.
B+E Vehicles with a MAM not exceeding 3,500kg. You can tow a trailer with a MAM exceeding 750kg, e.g. horse trailer.
C1     Vehicles with a MAM exceeding 3,500kg but not exceeding 7,500kg.
You may tow a trailer with a MAM not exceeding 750kg. Drivers who passed their category B test prior to 01/01/1997 will have entitlement to drives C1+E with a ‘107’ restriction. This limits the actual weight of the combination to 8.25 tonnes. The trailer may have a MAM exceeding 750kg.
C1+E Vehicles with a MAM exceeding 3,500kg but not exceeding 7,500kg.
You may tow a trailer with a MAM exceeding 750kg. Train weight (vehicle and trailer together) must not exceed 12,000kg.
C     Vehicles with a MAM exceeding 7,500kg.
You may tow a trailer with a MAM not exceeding 750kg.
C+E Vehicles with a MAM exceeding 7,500kg.
You may tow a trailer with a MAM exceeding 750kg.

If you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997, you can only drive Category B vehicles. If you wish to drive any other type of vehicle, additional tests are required.

For example:
To tow anything other than a very light horse trailer, you will need Category B+E on your licence. To get this you have to take an additional test.

It’s acceptable for a driver who passed their car test before 1997 to sit alongside a learner B+E driver. The supervisor is known as having ‘Grandfather rights’. However, for other categories, those supervising must hold the appropriate qualification themselves and Grandfather rights will not apply. For example, a person who passed their car test before 1997 may supervise someone who passed after that date while they are driving a car and trailer combination. They may not supervise that person when driving a horsebox over 3,500kg maximum weight unless they have passed their C1 or C test. This law came into force on 5 April 2011.

For a vehicle up to 7,500kg you’ll need C1 or C. Drivers who passed their category B test on or after 1 January 1997 will need to pass both a medical and an additional driving test.

For vehicles over 7,500kg, you’ll need C and you’ll need to pass a medical and an additional driving test.
You are breaking the law if you do not comply with these regulations.

For more information about tests and driving licence requirements visit direct.gov.uk (opens in a new window).

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