It’s simpler than you might think to drive a standard van. There are no special tests or licences - but there are some rules you need to be aware of, especially if you want to drive a bigger model.
Here’s all you need to know 👇
If you have a full UK driving licence you can drive any van that weighs 3.5 tonnes or less when it’s full. This is called the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of a van.
To put that in real terms – most vans you’ll come across will have an MAM of 3.5 tonnes or less. For example, you can drive any of these vans with a full UK driving licence:
If you want to use a trailer with a van, you just need to make sure the total weight of the van and trailer isn’t more than 3.5 tonnes (when both are filled to maximum capacity).
You’ll be able to find out the van’s MAM by looking at its manual – and it can also usually be found on a plate or sticker inside the van. If you’re hiring a van, the rental company will tell you if you can drive it with your licence.
Ready to hit the road now you know you can drive a van? You might be interested in our temporary van insurance 😌
To drive a van with a MAM between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes, you need to take another driving test – one for driving C1 category vehicles (like heavier, commercial vehicles).
The only exception is if you passed your driving test before 1997. This is one of those weird driving rules – if you got your licence before 1997, you can drive vans up to 7.5 tonnes. If you got your licence after 1997, you’ll need to apply for provisional entitlement to drive C1 category vehicles. Then you’ll need to take a test.
You won’t get a separate licence for driving heavier vans, your existing licence will just be updated to say you’re qualified to drive C1 vehicles.
You can drive vans that weigh 3.5 tonnes or less from the age of 17 (in other words, as soon as you have your driving licence).
Some van rental companies won’t let you hire a van until you’re over 21, though, so always double check.
Not got your driving licence yet? You might find our driving test checklist useful 😌
You’ll notice that there are a bunch of symbols, letters and numbers on the back of your plastic UK driving licence. These are just to show which vehicles you’re allowed to drive with your licence.
See how there are dates listed next to certain letters and numbers? These show which vehicles you can drive. The dates are when you passed your test, and when your licence expires (that’ll be the day before your 70th birthday).
When it comes to driving cars and vans, the important rows to look at on the back are:
Yep – larger vans do have to stick to slightly different speed limits. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Speed limit for vans
Speed limit for vans with trailers
Speed limit for smaller vans and cars
Vans that are classified as ‘car-derived vans’ are allowed to drive at the normal car speed limits. They just need to be listed as CDV on their V5C registration form. For example, the Ford Fiesta Van and the Vauxhall Corsavan are both ‘car-derived vans’.
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