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Do I Need A Special Licence to Drive A Van?

28 March 2023

So you’re thinking of investing in a van but not sure if you need a special van driving licence. You’re probably wondering what licence you need to drive a van. The good news is that most drivers don’t need a special licence to drive a van in the UK. You will be okay with your standard UK vehicle driving licence. 

However, there are a few exceptions. You can drive a van on your licence providing the van does not weigh more the 3500 kg when loaded. That means you can drive a van to move home, courier goods and install a racking system for a profession such as a carpenter, gardener, plumber or electrician etc. 

Providing you’re 17 or over and have a Category B driver’s licence, you are permitted to drive a van. This rule also applies if you own a provisional licence and learning to drive. However, until you pass your test you must be accompanied by an adult that is 21 or older that has owned a full driving licence for more than three years.  

Older van driving licenses include ‘grandfather rights’. People with a driving licence dated before 1st January 1997 are, therefore, permitted to drive vehicles weighing up to 7500kg. This can make the difference if you are driving a large van with interior an racking solutions

You can also tow trailers providing the total weight of the van’s contents and the tow combined does not exceed 8250kg. Check your van driving license. It should include Category C to qualify for grandfather’s rights. 

If you’re not sure how much the vehicle weighs, take it to a weighbridge. This will enable you to calculate the total weight of the van once it is stacked with cargo. Exceeding the weight allowance could potentially lumber you with a spot fine and invalidate your driver’s licence. 

If you passed your driving test after 1997, you probably won’t have Category C on your standard UK driving licence. If you need to drive a commercial vehicle weighing over 3,500 kg, you need to apply for provisional C1 entitlement and pass a C1 driving test.

Can I Drive A Van On My Driving Licence?

To determine whether you can drive a van on your licence, you need to know the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the van you’re driving. GVW is the weight of the van plus cargo, passengers and fuel. 

The majority of small and medium-size vans on UK roads weigh less than 3500 kg when carrying cargo. To give you an idea typical examples include the Ford Transit Custom, Mercedes Vito, Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro. 

It’s also worth noting that electric vans typically weigh more than traditional fuel vans because of the battery. The Uk government has compensated for this by upgrading the GVW on electric vehicles to 4250kg. However, drivers have to undergo at least 5 hours of training.

There are also additional provisions for drivers that want to drive a minibus of up to 16 passengers. Your standard driving licence is still valid to provide this service but you must be 21 or older and have held a full driving licence for the last two years. You’re not permitted to tow a trailer on a minibus whilst carrying passengers. 

Still Not Sure What License You Need To Drive A Van?

If you’re still not sure what licence you need to drive a van, check the Government website. The information will inform you of the type of vehicles you can drive on your existing licence. All you need to do is enter the number of your driving licence, your National Insurance Number and the postcode of the address your driver’s licence is registered. 

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