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Different types of driving licences explained

Different types of driving licences explained

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What do they mean for what you’re able to drive?

Different types of licences in the UK

All drivers in the UK hold a licence in one form or another, but they do differ in terms of what people are able to drive and certain restrictions that are in place. This means that even if you hold a full licence, what you’re able to get behind the wheel of could be different from person to person. 

Here, we’re going to take a look at the different types of licences in the UK and what they mean. 


Provisional licence

A provisional licence is required for someone to start learning how to drive. You’re able to apply for one from the age of 15 years and nine months, in readiness for learning to drive at 17. When learning, you’ll need to be accompanied by a passenger with a full driving licence and, of course, be fully insured to do so. 

Category B

Category B - if you’ve passed your test before January 1, 1997

If you’ve passed your test before January 1, 1997, then a regular Category B driving licence will allow you to drive a car and trailer combination up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM). This licence also allows you to drive a minibus and trailer combination with an MAM of 750kg. 

Category B - if you’ve passed your test after January 1, 1997

If you’ve passed your test after January 1, 1997, then you’re still perfectly able to drive a regular car but what you’re allowed to tow changes. You’re able to drive a car with up to eight seats and 3,500kg MAM, with a trailer of up to 750kg. 

You’re also able to tow a heavier trailer if the combined MAM of both trailer and vehicle doesn’t exceed 3,500kg. You’re also able to drive motorised tricycles providing their power output isn’t above 15kW and you’re over 21 years old. 

Physically disabled drivers with a category B licence will have a provisional entitlement to ride category A1 or A motorised tricycles, too, though you won’t be able to ride these with a provisional licence. 

Category B Auto

This licence allows you to drive a car but only those fitted with an automatic gearbox. You aren’t permitted to drive a manual car. 

Category BE

A category BE licence allows you to drive a vehicle with an MAM of 3,500kg with a trailer. The size of the trailer is dictated by the BE ‘valid from’ date on your licence. So if it’s before January 19 2013, you can tow any size of trailer within the towing limits of the car.

However, if it is valid from on or after January 19, 2013, then you can tow a trailer with an MAM of up to 3,500kg within the towing limits of the car. 


Category C

Category C1

A C1 licence permits you to drive vehicles with an MAM of between 3,500kg and 7,500kg with a trailer of up to 750kg. This is the basic step up from a ‘regular’ driving licence and is often required to drive vehicles such as goods vehicles or larger campervans. 

Category C1E

The C1E licence is just the same as the C1 and permits you to drive the same vehicles but with a trailer over 750kg. The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000kg, however. 

Category C

A category C licence permits you to drive vehicles over 3,500kg, with a trailer of up to 750kg.

Category CE

The category CE licence is the same as the regular C licence but allows you to tow a trailer over 750kg. 


Category D

Category D1

Obtaining a category D1 licence permits you to drive a minibus with no more than 16 passenger seats and a maximum length of eight metres. You’re also allowed to tow a trailer of up to 750kg with this licence, too. 

Category D1E

Moving to a D1 allows you to drive the same size of minibus as the D1, but permits you to tow a trailer over 750kg. Combined, the MAM of both cannot go over 12,000kg. 

Category D

A category D licence permits you to drive a bus with more than eight passenger seats and a trailer of up to 750kg. 

Category DE

A category DE licence allows you to drive category D vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.