“Can I drive a 3.5 tonne van?” It’s something we are often asked, and understanding the many driving licence categories is enough to give anyone a sore head. However, when it comes to hiring a van for personal use or business purposes, knowing the difference between a category B licence and a category C licence could mean the difference between staying legally compliant and having a run in with the boys in blue!
In the world of driving and transport, your full category B driving licence doesn’t give you the entitlement to drive any vehicle you like. Here we reveal the restrictions that apply so you can hire a van for that home or business move in full confidence.
What vehicles can I drive using a category B licence?
The standard UK driving licence covers category B, which enables the holder to drive any vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg (or 3.5 tonnes). Whether this vehicle is a car with eight passenger seats or a van simply does not matter.
As well as visiting the back of your driving licence, which discloses just which categories you are covered for, when you passed your test is also of importance. Drivers who passed their test between 1st January 1997 and 18th January 2013 can tow a trailer (weighing up to 750kg) without training or further testing. The weight of the vehicle and the trailer however must not exceed 4,250kg. Heavier loads can also be carried via a trailer as long as the combined weight doesn’t exceed 3.5 tonnes.
Can I drive a 3.5 tonne van on a car licence?
With a standard category B driving licence you can indeed drive a 3.5 tonne van, but this is a maximum weight for the licence category. If you passed your test any date after 1st January 1997, you might need to take extra tests before being able to drive vehicles in the weight range of 3.5 to 7.5 tonnes. You may also need additional tests to tow a trailer with your van.
Can I drive a van when I pass my test?
Passing the standard UK driving test earns you the category B driver’s licence, meaning you can drive smaller size vans such as the Ford Transit in addition to standard cars. You can drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, regardless of if they are a car or van. Check the front and back of your licence for codes and graphics confirming the types of vehicle you can drive. More guidance is also available in the UK government’s van driving guidelines.
What is the difference between category B and category C?
For drivers looking to operate a vehicle that weighs more than 3.5 tonnes, a category C licence is required. Whilst additional training and testing is required if you passed your test between 1st January 1997 and 18th January 2013, those who qualified before 1997 automatically hold this entitlement.
Drivers passing their test before 1997 can drive medium-sized and large vehicles weighing up to 7,500kg, with a 750kg trailer, without further training or testing. Again check the back of your photocard licence to see if you hold this entitlement as certain categories are being removed when licences are renewed.
Can I hire a van?
The date you passed your test will determine whether you are entitled to category C vehicles, however, there are a series of vans available for hire if you only hold a category B licence. The Renault Kangoo, Ford Transit or Citroen Relay are category B vehicles at Collison’s, and our Mercedes Sprinter and Luton Vans are extra-long wheel base with more space but still just within the 3500kg weight limit of category B. All vans available at our Waterlooville location provide spacious options, giving you the means to move home or transport business goods safely and legally.