Do I need to take a B+E Trailer Test

Changes to the licensing and testing system on 1st January 1997 saw the introduction of a completely new test [B+E Car & Trailer Test]. Although the test has been around for a number of years now, a huge number of people are completely unaware of it. This involves drivers in driving when unlicensed and therefore uninsured through ignorance of the law.
Many choose to ignore the law and make a decision to drive unlicensed and tow illegally. If you intend to tow it is recommended that you take the test to avoid any misinterpretation by you, or potential problems with the police or your insurers. The information listed below is not intended to be a definitive statement of Law. You should check with the DVLA for the specific advice you need.

The driving licence you need to tow a caravan or other large trailer.

The ability to tow will depend on the driving licence you hold. The category entitlement on your driving licence will determine the type of trailer you can tow.

What is the B+E entitlement?

Category B+E allows vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes MAM to be combined with trailers in excess of 750kgs MAM. In order to gain this entitlement, new category B driving licence holders have to pass a further practical test for B+E. (There is no Theory test).

Car licences held before 1st January 1997

Drivers who passed a car driving test before 1st January 1997 retain their existing entitlement to tow trailers until their licence expires. This means they are generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM. However if a driver has had to take a retest after the date shown above, they will have lost their automatic entitlement to tow and will need to take the B+E test, if they wish to tow larger trailer combinations.

Car licences first obtained since 1st January 1997

Drivers who passed a car driving test on or after 1st January 1997, are limited to vehicles up to 3.5tonnes MAM towing a trailer up to 750kgs, or a vehicle and trailer combination up to 3.5 tonnes MAM providing the MAM of the trailer doesn’t exceed the unladen mass of the towing vehicle. You will need to pass an additional B+E driving test if you wish to tow a caravan or other trailer combination which exceeds these weight limits.

Further Information

For car drivers who have limited or no experience in towing, an extended course may be offered enabling the driver to gain more experience before sitting their test.
The B+E Test is the DVSA practical driving test for car and trailer. No medical examination and no additional theory test is required.
The test is regarded by the DVSA as the first step to driving Large Goods Vehicles and is examined accordingly.
The duration of the test is about an hour and a half. the candidate will need to demonstrate a number of different exercises including a reversing exercise, coupling, uncoupling and a controlled stop. In addition to the trailer manoeuvring exercises the candidate must show the examiner skill and competency on the highway including junctions, lane discipline, mirror & signalling timing, hill starts, angled starts etc. covering a variety of different roads.
Before the test you will be asked a number questions called ‘show me, tell me’ (i.e. Show me how you would check that your vehicle & trailer doors are secure) it must be answered either verbally or practically demonstrated.
Successfully passing this test gives the category B+E that allows driver to tow a trailer up to a gross weight (trailer including load) of 3500kg.(3.5 tons). This means a vehicle and trailer with a gross train weight of 7,000kg.(7 tons)

CAUTION – You could need considerably more than a B+E driving test – if the trailer exceeds 1020kg ulw or the towing vehicle is over 3.5 tonnes and they are being used in connection with a business, you are likely to require a Goods Vehicle Operators Licence, the towing vehicle may require a Tachograph and the driver will have to observe the Drivers Hours Regulations. More details are available from your Local Traffic Area Network advertised under Driving in all BT Phone Books orwww.vosa.gov.uk