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Can I drive a van?

5 minutes

Owning a van comes in handy for a number of reasons. If you’ve got a hobby that requires lots of equipment, the added storage space can be incredibly useful. Additionally, they’re a great family purchase with more room for camping trips, cycling holidays or pets.

However, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before you buy a van. The year you obtained your licence, the weight of the van you’re looking to drive and even your van insurance policy can determine whether or not you’re ok to get behind the wheel.

We’ve answered the most common questions about driving a van to help you get on the road with complete peace of mind.

Can I drive a van with a car licence?

Yes, you can drive a van with a gross vehicle weight of up to 3,500kg on a standard car licence obtained after 1997. Drivers who passed their test before this date can drive a van and trailer up to 8,250kg, depending on the details of their licence.

However, although most UK vans fall within the 3,500kg limit, the key thing to bear in mind is the weight of whatever you’re carrying. This has to be factored in as part of what’s known as a van’s Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM), which can’t exceed 3,500kg, or 3.5 tonnes.

If you’re found to be driving a vehicle whose MAM is higher than this limit, then you could face the prospect of points being added to your licence, a fine or even being summoned to court.
If you hold a post-1997 licence and want to drive a heavier van or add a trailer, you will need to take additional driving tests to add higher categories to your car licence.

What types of licences are there?

There are several categories of driving licence available, depending on the type of vehicle you want to drive. These include:

Category B – This is the standard category for all car licences. If you passed your test before 1997 you can drive a vehicle and trailer weighing a maximum combined weight of 8,250kg. If you passed your test after this time, you can drive a vehicle with a maximum weight, including load, of 3,500kg.

Category BE – Added onto a standard car licence, drivers with this category of licence can operate a 3,500kg vehicle and trailer. The size and weight of the trailer depends on the valid from date shown on a BE licence. If this is before the 19th January 2013, you can tow any trailer size. If the valid from date is after 19th January 2013, the weight of the trailer and load must not exceed 3,500kg.

Category C1 – This applies to medium-sized vehicles and allows the driver to handle a vehicle between 3,500 and 7,500kg (including a trailer weighing up to 750kg).
 
Category C1E – A category up from C1, this allows the driver to tow a trailer over 750kg, as long as the total weight of both the vehicle and trailer does not exceed 12,000kg.

Category C – Designed for larger vehicles, the driver can operate a vehicle over 3,500kg with a trailer weighing up to 750kg.

Category CE – This is designed for those with a category C licence who want to tow a trailer that weighs over 750kg.

How old do I need to be to drive a van?

There isn’t a set answer on the age you need to be to drive a van as it varies from vehicle to vehicle. However, you do need to be at least 17, the legal age to drive in the UK.

Vans under 3,500kg can be operated through a standard car licence. However, you must be at least 18 to hold a C1 licence, which covers medium-sized vehicles, and at least 21 to apply for a C1E licence which enables you to tow a trailer.

For larger vehicles, you must be over 18 to apply for a category C licence. If you’re between 18 and 20, you’ll also need to have a Driver Certificate of Competence (CPC) qualification.

What type of insurance do I need to drive a van?

Just like car insurance, there are different types of van insurance available depending on your needs. These are generally divided by whether or not your van is for personal or business use. 

Private or personal van insurance covers all your family activities, from runs to the supermarket to a full-on road trip. However, if you want to use the van for anything work-related, just check the cover provided. 

To find out more, read our handy guide to the different types of van insurance cover. Or if you're ready, get a van insurance quote today.

 

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