Driving Licence Categories explained
When driving large vehicles, the maximum authorised mass (MAM) (the weight of the unladen vehicle plus the weight it can carry) determines the driving licence entitlement you must attain or hold. Due to changes in driving licence legislation in 1997, the date on which you passed your driving test also has a bearing on the additional category tests you will be required to take.
If you passed your test before 1st January 1997, your driving entitlement will include:
- Category B – a motor vehicle not exceeding 3.5 tonnes MAM
- Category B+E – a category B vehicle with a trailer over 750kg or a gross total weight (GTW) of over 3.5 tonnes
- Category C1 – medium sized goods vehicle with a MAM of between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes
- Category C1+E – a trailer attached to the C1 vehicle where the trailer does not exceed 750kg.
- Category B – a motor vehicle not exceeding 3.5 tonnes with a trailer up to 750kg (provided the total MAM of the combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes or a heavier trailer provided the trailer’s MAM is not greater than the kerbside weight (KSW) of the vehicle and the GTW does not exceed 3.5 tonnes.
Further Driving Tests
The C1 TestThis test enables you to drive a vehicle weighing between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes (classed as a medium sized vehicle), with or without a trailer, where the trailer weighs no more than 750 kg. You must be 18 years of age before taking this test.
The C1 + E TestWhere you need to drive a vehicle weighing between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes and you need to tow a trailer weighing more than 750 kg, you must take the test category C1 + E. You are entitled to take this test at the age of 18 where you had your licence before 10th September 2009. For further exemptions and more details, please visit:
Category CEffectively the new HGV Class 2 in the UK, the old HGV Class 2 being any rigid goods vehicle with more than two axles; allows the holder to drive a vehicle weighing over 3.5 tonnes with a trailer up to 750kg MAM. You are entitled to take this test at the age of 21 (*or at 18 if any of the conditions below apply).
The new Class 1; allows the holder to drive a vehicle weighing over 3.5 tonnes with a trailer over 750kg MAM. This licence covers all articulated and draw bar combinations. This licence could only be obtained after 6 months experience of a Class 2 truck, but more recently the law has changed to the effect that you can now do back to back tests, i.e. Category C first then C+E the following week. You are entitled to take this test at the age of 21 (* or at 18 if any of the conditions below apply).
You can drive these vehicles at age 18 if one of the following apply:
•you have passed your driving test and Driver CPC initial qualification
•you are learning to drive or taking a driving test for this category or Driver CPC initial qualification
•you are taking a national vocational training course to get a Driver CPC initial qualification
•you had your driving licence before 10 September 2009 - you must take the CPC periodic training within five years of this date
Ensuring you have the correct driving entitlements to drive your vehicle is crucial. If you drive without the right entitlements you could face a fine of up to £1,000 and face disqualification from driving. You will are also likely to invalidate your insurance policy, which contravenes further legal requirements, which could result in a further disqualification from driving and a fine of up to £5,000.