Getting Licenced to Tow in 2021

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Getting Licenced to Tow in 2021

When towing a trailer before the mid 90’s you wouldn’t have given a second thought as to whether you were legally allowed to do so or not. But with the introduction of towing licence regulations for all licenses issued after the 1st of January 1997, you need to take additional driving test in order to tow anything above 750kg, or where the vehicle and trailer exceed 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM).

Those of you who were lucky enough to have you licence issued before 1st of January 1997 are generally licenced to drive a vehicle and trailer with a MAM up to 8.25 tonnes. While also being allowed to drive a minibus towing a trailer which exceeds 750kg MAM.


What is a Towing Licence?


Firstly, there is no such thing as a towing licence, but rather an additional entitlement to your category B driving licence (car and small vehicle licence). In order to tow a trailer above the new regulated 750kg MAM, or a vehicle/trailer combination above 3,500kg MAM you will need to obtain a trailer towing, or B+E entitlement on your licence. If you have a licence issued before 1st of January 1997 and want to drive a vehicle and trailer combination which exceeds 8,500kg MAM you too will need the additional B+E endorsement on your licence.


What to Expect in a Trailer Test


Getting your trailer towing endorsement is all about ensuring you are aware of the risks when towing a trailer on the roads. You will also need to show that you have a sufficient understanding of how a trailer will affect the way you drive. There will be a series of questions and practical tests (similar to a standard driving test) in which you will have to pass in order to qualify for the entitlement. During the test you are allowed up to 15 minor faults and no major faults - we will cover the difference between them in a second. Let’s take a look at some part of the tests you are likely to see.

  • Safety Questions – The safety questions will be asked before the test begins. These generally start with an eye test where you will be asked to read a number plate from 20 metres. This will be followed by ‘show me, tell me’ questions which are aimed to show you have an understanding of how a trailer works and how to maintain it properly.

  • Off Road Test – This test usually takes place in a designated off-road area where you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to manoeuvre and handle the trailer safely. Here you are asked to reverse the car and trailer into a marked-out bay area. This must be done safely and in full control to pass without any faults. Following this you will need to show you can uncouple and recouple the trailer to the vehicle.

  • On Road Test – The on road part of the test is designed to show you can tow a trailer safely in public highways. You will be asked to drive on a variety of roads and show you can adapt throughout the examination. The on road test will include a 10-minute independent drive, and throughout the test you will be asked to pull over and pull away again safely on multiple occasions.

 Coupling trailer

Minor & Major Faults


As with most driving style tests you are given an allowance in terms of the number of faults you can pick up during the test and still pass. During the towing test you are allowed to pick up 15 minor faults, but zero major faults. Strictly speaking the terms ‘minor’ and ‘major’ fault are referred to differently by the examiner, there are in fact three classifications of fault on the test:

  • A Dangerous Fault – involving danger to you, the examiner, the public, or to property.
  • A Serious Fault – Something with the potential for danger.

  • A Driving Fault – Not potentially dangerous however repeating the same fault multiple times or exceeding the number of total faults will result in test failure.

As you can imagine the term ‘major’ covers the dangerous fault and the serious fault, and ‘minor’ covers a driving fault. If you pick up a major fault during your test you will unfortunately fail that test and need to retake.

Towing boat

To book your trailer endorsement test click here