What you need to know about towing a trailer on a car licence.
Can I tow a trailer on a car licence?
If you have a category B driving licence (car/jeep) you can tow a small trailer. If you want to tow a larger trailer you must have a category BE licence. For further information see licence categories.
What trailers can I tow on category B and BE driving licences?
You can tow a trailer where:
Note: As a general rule a category B licence does not allow you to tow a horsebox or livestock trailer transporting animals
You can tow a trailer in all cases where:
Note: A car with a towing capacity of 2,000 kg can draw a trailer with a plated MAM¹ of 3,500 kg provided the combination of the weight of the trailer and any load does not exceed the towing capacity of the towing vehicle e.g. 2,000 kg.
Why is it important to tow the correct trailer with a vehicle?
If you are towing a trailer that is greater than the permitted MAM1 you are breaking the law and this has serious implications for your own safety and for that of other road users. You are legally responsible for having the correct licence and not exceeding the towing capacity of your vehicle.
How can I find the towing capacity?
The towing capacity is described for licensing purposes as the maximum authorised mass (MAM) and this is found in the owner’s manual/handbook, on the manufacturer’s plate (located inside the passenger door or under the bonnet) or you can contact the vehicle manufacturer.
Is there a weight limit for a vehicle?
In the owner’s manual or handbook you will find its:
- maximum authorised mass (MAM) or Design Gross Vehicle Weight (DGVW) i.e. weight of the vehicle, passengers, fuel and any load carried on a roof-rack, and
- unladen weight i.e. weight of the vehicle without any passengers or load as specified by trailer manufacturer.
To find out the load it can carry, subtract the unladen weight from MAM
MAM minus Unladen weight = Load carried
2,010 kg - 1,535 kg = 475 kg
Apart from the licence what else affects my right to tow a trailer?
Even if your driving licence entitles you to tow a trailer, the type of trailer will also depend on your vehicle specifications. The owner's manual generally sets out a towing capacity or towing weight for the vehicle. Some small vehicles might not be allowed to tow any trailer while larger vehicles have restrictions set by the manufacturer. In all such cases the type of trailer you can tow will be the lesser of that allowed by your licence or the towing capacity of your vehicle.
How should the load on your trailer be positioned?
A load should always be placed safely, securely and evenly distributed across the trailer and positioned in such a way to keep the nose weight (weight of the trailer drawbar on the towing bracket) within the recommended limits for the towing vehicle. Consult your owner's manual for this figure.
For more information on securing loads on trailers see RSA webpage on securing loads.
Note this content is for reference and is not a statement of the law or a legal interpretation of the provisions relating to driver licences, this is a matter for the Courts.
How do I obtain a BE driving licence?
- You must hold a current full category B driving licence
- You must first pass a driver theory test in the category B (if not already passed to obtain your category B licence)
- Apply online or in person at an NDLS centre for a category BE learner permit.
- After passing the BE driving test you can then apply to add category BE to your full driving licence.