What the end of trailer tests means for drivers

23 September 2021

In September, the government announced a package of measures to streamline the HGV test process in a move aimed at freeing up driving examiner time and helping tackle the backlog of tests.

One measure announced was the ending of the requirement that car drivers must take a practical test to get a B+E driving licence entitlement to drive heavier weight trailers over 750kg. There was a delay in changing the law but the new rules became effective on 16 December 2021 for drivers holding a license issued by the UK authorities.

What are the new rules?

Licences issued before 1 January 1997

Drivers are usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 maximum authorised mass (MAM). Check your driving licence and what entitlements to drive you have here.

MAM is the limit on how much the vehicle can weigh when it is fully loaded. Get explanations on vehicle weights here.

Licences issued after 1 January 1997

Under the new rules anyone who passed their car driving test from 1 January 1997 will be allowed to drive a car up to 3,500kg and tow a trailer up to 3,500kg. Please note any trailer towed must be within the design capabilities of the towing vehicle.

New trailer regulations: your questions answered

I passed my test before 1 January 1997 and have grandfather rights to drive car/trailer combinations up to 8,250kg – will I keep this?

Yes. Drivers who first passed their car driving test before 1 January 1997 will keep their grandfather rights.

What about safety?

The recommendation is to take training from a driving instructor if you want to start driving a car and trailer. A new accredited voluntary training scheme is under development and is planned to go live from March/April 2022.

Information on why it is important to learn how to tow is here.

Information on the safety checks to carry out when towing a trailer is here.

What are the health and safety rules on driving and towing a trailer at work?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 there is a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who might be affected by their business activities. The self employed have a duty to ensure their own health and safety and that of the public as well.

Under the Provision and Use of Equipment at Work Regulations (PUWER) there is a duty on employers to make sure any equipment used for work is suitable for the purpose intended, maintained and that persons using the equipment are trained and competent. One way to demonstrate that persons are trained and competent is to have staff take training on driving a car and trailer.

Will my driving licence be updated?

When the law changes DVLA will update your driving licence record to show you are allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg. When licences are renewed and a new photocard licence issued it will show that category B+E has been added.

Will the new rules apply to drivers holding a licence issued by an EU country?

No, the new rules only apply to drivers holding a licence issued by the UK authorities. Drivers holding a licence issued by an EU country can only drive vehicles that the licence issued in the home country details. Drivers holding licences issued by an EU country will not benefit from the automatic entitlement to category B+E that is now given to drivers holding a licence issued by the UK.

How do drivers holding a licence issued by an EU country get the B+E entitlement needed to drive heavier weight trailers?

Drivers holding a licence issued by an EU country who want to acquire the B+E entitlement and drive heavier weight vehicles on UK roads can exchange the licence issued in their home country for a UK licence on Gov.uk.

Further advice is available from CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.

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