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What licence do you need to tow a horse trailer or drive a horsebox?

Update Alert - The Governments planned changes to the car and trailer towing law, which was due to come into effect on 15 November, have been delayed.

Read the full statement here.

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.

Currently, 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.

From 20 September 2021 you will no longer be able to take your B + E test.

Following a Government consultation, the law is set to change in late 2021. The government has announced that HGV driving tests will be overhauled and car drivers will no longer need to take another test to tow a trailer or caravan. You can find out more about what you will be able to tow legally following the change. Remember that until the law changes you should still follow your current licence restrictions.

The BHS strongly recommends that anyone new or hasn’t towed in a while should take training from a qualified B+E driving instructor. There are many aspects to think about when towing not just the driving; including coupling and un-coupling safely, essential safety checks before you tow, and the weight restrictions of your vehicle and trailer. 

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). 

Until the law changes, below are the current licence restrictions:

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

If you have passed your B test:

Before 19 January 2013, you can tow any size trailer.
On or after 19 January 2013, you can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500kg.

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.

Renewing your driving licence at 70

Since 1997, the C1 and/or D1 (small lorry and/or bus) implied entitlements are not automatically renewed at the age of 70. Drivers can apply to have these entitlements re-instated, but they need to meet the higher medical standards of fitness to drive associated with lorry and/or bus entitlements.

A D2 application form and a D4 medical form completed by a doctor is required if the applicant wishes to keep their C1 and/or D1 implied entitlements. These are available from Post Offices that offer driving licence transactions. There is no DVLA fee for this process, but you may have to pay for the D4 medical form to be completed by a GP (and an optician if the GP doesn’t offer eye tests).

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