• Van Driving Licence Guide for the UK

Van Driving Licence Guide for the UK

Stay on the right side of the law with our licence guidelines for van drivers

When it comes to driving a van, you’ll want to understand what kind of licence you need and if there are any associated restrictions. 

Driving licence categories can be confusing, so to make the subject simpler, here at Loads of Vans, we explain everything you need to know in order to legally drive a van in the UK… 

Can I drive a van on a car driving permit?

If you hold a standard car driving licence in the UK, you are also permitted to drive a van up to 3,500kg. This is good news if you’re a sole trader who needs to drive a van for work or a business owner with a fleet of vans for employees to drive. 

A full UK driving licence will entitle you to drive a small, medium or large van up to 3.5 tonnes, with up to eight passenger seats inside, as long as it doesn’t exceed the weight limit. 

If you wish to drive a van weighing between 3,500kg and 7,500kg, or want to tow a trailer with your van, you will need to add a higher category than the standard B1 to your driving licence. We’ve explained more about this in the article below. 

man driving van with car driving licence

Can I drive an electric van on a car licence?

Back in 2017, the UK Government increased the weight limit for electric-powered vans. This means that for electric vans only, anyone with a standard driving licence for cars (categories B and B1) can also drive a fully-electric van. The increased weight limit means that electric vans up to 4,250kg are legally allowed to be driven on a car licence too.   

What vans can I drive with a standard licence?

As explained above, you can drive any van on a standard driving licence, as long as it’s under 3.5 tonnes in weight. This opens up your options to choose between small, medium or large-sized vans. 

To give you a better idea of what maximum size vans you can drive, these are some of the largest vans you can legally drive on a B1 car licence. 

Citroën Relay

Available in four lengths and three heights, the Citroën Relay offers customised comfort for the ultimate experience. Intuitive technology means that driver and passenger safety is paramount.

Fiat Ducato

The award-winning Fiat Ducato has an extensive range of features, exceptional cargo efficiency, and can be customised to suit your needs. For over 40 years, the Ducato has been a proven workhorse for the masses. 

PEUGEOT Boxer

A commercial panel van for professionals, the PEUGEOT Boxer has a wealth of features designed to support your business. Available in multiple versions, each PEUGEOT Boxer model can be customised to meet the needs of sole traders or fleet managers.  

Renault Master

The Renault Master is a tough and assertive van that can adapt to your daily business needs. As a smart-looking large panel van, it offers plenty of space inside with easy load options and equipment designed to make your working day even easier. 

What licence do I need to drive an HGV?

If you want to drive a vehicle over 3,500kg, you’ll need to apply for a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence, also known as a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) and be aged 18 or over. 

HGV and bus or coach drivers require a professional driving qualification called the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). The CPC comprises five different driving tests and you’ll need to renew your bus or HGV licence every five years until you’re 65, and then every year thereafter. 

Acquiring an HGV licence is also subject to a medical assessment which confirms you are fit enough to drive such a large vehicle. Once approved, you can apply for the full C1 licence.

cars and vans on motorway

What is the length of time a driver can legally use an HGV in the UK?

As a commercial van or HGV driver, you are limited to the number of hours you can legally drive the vehicle at any given time. Implemented for the safety of all road users, the rules of how many hours you can drive a van depend on a number of factors, these are:

  • The gross weight of your van
  • The country in which you’re driving
  • What you’re using the van for

If you drive a van for business purposes in the UK, you must abide by the Great Britain domestic rules on drivers’ hours guidance outlined on the official gov.uk website. During the work day, van drivers are limited to a maximum of 10 hours of driving time in any given 24-hour period - this is applicable to public roads and off-road driving too (such as agricultural or building work).  

It’s worth noting that you can receive a fine of up £300 if caught exceeding the daily driving limits for business owners.

man driving long hgv 

What type of driving permit do I need for an ice cream van?

It may seem like a strange question, but one that many people ask. When it comes to driving a van, there isn’t a dedicated licence type cat for ice cream vans. To work out if you can legally drive an ice cream, you will first need to work out how heavy the vehicle will be once it is loaded with all the equipment needed to successfully operate it as a business.

blue ice cream van  

Does my age matter when driving a van?

Age is absolutely a contributing factor when it comes to driving a van. Anyone with a full UK driving licence aged 17 or over can drive a van up to 3,500kg. This changes for HGVs, to people aged 18 or over who have an additional C1 category driving licence.

But there is a curveball to throw into the mix; if you passed your driving test after January 1st 1997, you may need to take extra driving tests before you can drive a vehicle over 3,500kg, or if you wish to tow a trailer using a van. 

What happens if I drive a van without the correct licence?

Driving a van without the correct licence can result in a hefty fine and additional penalty points. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) website warns you can be fined up to £1,000 and receive between three to six penalty points if you’re caught driving a van without the correct licence.

Driving licence categories explained

If you’ve ever taken the time to look at the reverse side of your driving licence, you’ll notice that there’s a table listing all the various licence categories; these include categories for vans, LGVs, minibus and coaches, amongst others.  

To help you understand these categories further, we’ve created the table below which explains more: 

CATEGORY

DESCRIPTION

AGE RESTRICTIONS

AM

Moped: 2-wheel vehicles or 3-wheel vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 25km/h and not more than 45km/h. 

Light quadricycle: with an unladen mass of not more than 350 kg. 

16+

A1

Motorcycles: a motorcycle with a cylinder capacity not exceeding 125cc.

Motor tricycle: with a power not exceeding 15kW.

17+

A2

Motorcycles: of a power not exceeding 35kW, with a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW per kg.

19+

A

Motorcycles: of a power exceeding 35kW or with a power to weight ratio exceeding 0.2kW per kg.

24+

B1

Four-wheeled light vehicles: motor vehicles with four wheels up to 550 kg unladen and invalid carriages.

17+

B

Cars: motor vehicles with a MAM not

exceeding 3,500 kg, designed and

constructed for the carriage of

no more than eight passengers in

addition to the driver with a trailer

up to 750 kg.

17+

C1

Medium-sized vehicles: Vehicles between 3,500 kg and 7,500 kg, designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver

with a trailer up to 750 kg.

18+

C

Large goods vehicles: Vehicles over 3,500 kg with a trailer up to 750 kg, designed and

constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver.

21+

D1

Minibuses: vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats in addition to the driver, and with a maximum length not exceeding 8 metres with a trailer up to 750 kg.

21+

D

Buses: any bus designed and constructed for the carriage of more than 8 passengers in addition to the driver, with a trailer up to 750 kg.

24+

BE

Cars with trailers: Combinations of vehicles consisting of a vehicle in category B and a

trailer, where the combination does not come within category B, and the MAM of the trailer or semi-trailer does not exceed 3,500 kg.

17+

C1E

Medium sized vehicles and trailers: Vehicles between 3,500 kg and 7,500 kg with a trailer over 750 kg, designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver – combined weight not more than 12,000 kg.

18+

CE

Large goods vehicles with trailers: Vehicles over 3,500 kg designed and constructed for the carriage of no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver with a trailer over 750 kg. 

21+

D1E

Minibuses with trailers: vehicles with no more than 16 passenger seats in addition to the driver, and with a maximum length not exceeding 8 metres with a trailer over 750 kg.

21+

DE

Buses with trailers: any bus designed and constructed for the carriage of more than 8 passengers in addition to the driver, with a trailer over 750 kg.

24+

What are the rules for towing with a van?

You can only tow a trailer using a van if your driving licence allows you to - this is displayed on your driving licence as categories C1E and CE, as reflected in the table above. 

What’s important for you to know initially is the towing capacity of your van, as this will limit the load in which your van is actually capable of towing - not just what you think the vehicle can tow. 

To help you understand this further, the towing capacity of your van is not allowed to be more than 85% of what’s known as your vehicle’s ‘kerb weight’. This is the weight of your van including all the standard equipment inside - minus passengers. Referred to in the trade as the ‘85 towing rule’ or ‘85% rule’, this is merely a guide for your safety and not actually legally enforceable.  

small van towing  

What are the speed limits for vans?

As a van driver in the UK, you’ll need to be aware of the lowered speed limits for vans as these differ from cars. So you are up to ‘speed’ with what these are, we’ve created the table below:

VEHICLE

BUILT-UP AREAS & CITIES

SINGLE CARRIAGEWAY

DUAL CARRIAGEWAY

MOTORWAY

Van

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

70 mph

Car-derived van (CDV)

30 mph

60 mph

70 mph

70 mph

Van towing a trailer

30 mph

50 mph

60 mph

60 mph

Dual-purpose vehicle (pick-up truck)

30 mph

60 mph

70 mph

70 mph

Keeping the nation moving

Here at Loads of Vans in North Cheam, South London, we are proudly keeping the nation moving by supplying vans to all types of businesses across the country. 

From small vans to medium vans, large vans to pick-up trucks, we offer the best selection of vans to customers across the UK. We are an established new and used commercial van centre serving business owners in Surrey, London and beyond. 

We have a huge amount of vans in stock and ready to drive away today. Whether you’re a first-time van driver or a dab-hand at van driving, we’re bound to have the vehicle for you; with over 500 models available, you’ll be spoilt for choice! 

Get started by taking a look at our current offering of vans in stock, including our HOT DEALS which are simply too good to miss. You can also count on us to make your new or used van purchase even more affordable, as we offer cost-effective vehicle finance solutions too.

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