Whilst all UK drivers are familiar with what they need to do to obtain a driving licence, upon turning over and viewing the back of your full category B photocard the number of vehicle categories that you may or may not be entitled to is certain to cause some confusion. Getting to know the driving licence categories detailed here is an important part of understanding your entitlement, which is vital if you are looking to purchase or hire a particular type of vehicle.
Here we provide an essential guide to the categories so you can discover what steps you need to take to add higher categories to your licence.
Mopeds and motorcycles
There are many categories that relate to the driving of mopeds and motorcycles. Category AM allows you to drive two or three wheeled vehicles, including lightweight quad bikes, that have an unladen mass of no more than 350kg and a maximum speed of up to 28mph. Category P goes one step further giving holders the entitlement to drive two wheeled designs with maximum speeds of between 28 and 31mph.
Categories A1, A2 and A relate to the riding of motorcycles, with holders of category A1 legally able to drive motorcycles classed as light models and those holding category A able to drive motorbikes and tricycles with a specific power output.
The majority of UK licence holders are familiar with the category B criteria, which enables holders to drive vehicles weighing up to 3,500kg with a trailer of up to 750kg. For those wishing to tow heavier trailers if your total mass equates to less than 3,500kg you will not have to apply for higher categories. For category B+E drivers, the same principle applies, however those who passed their test before 19th January 2013 can tow a trailer of any size.
For holders of a category B auto licence, this only allows you to drive automatic category B vehicles, however you can upgrade to a manual licence at any time by passing a driving test in a manual car. For category B licence holders, provisional entitlement is also given for categories G, H, C1, C, D1 & D, which allows you to take a test and add these higher categories to your licence.
Lorries, buses and coaches
To drive lorries, buses and coaches a full car licence and additional testing is required. A professional driving qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) must be obtained to qualify, whilst 35 hours of periodic training every five years is needed to stay qualified. However, if you intend to use the vehicle for non-commercial purposes or wish to drive within 62 miles of your base you don’t need the full Driver CPC, instead you can apply for a provisional lorry or bus licence.
Minibuses can be driven with a car driving licence if you are 21 or older, have held your licence for two or more years, are not towing a trailer and are not using the minibus for commercial gain. Otherwise a category D1 licence must be applied for.