Reader Question: I want to take my caravan I use in the UK to France for my next holiday. Will I be able to drive a caravan with a UK licence?
If you have held a UK licence issued before January 1, 1997 you are able tow a caravan with your car provided they have a combined PTAC (Poids Total Autorisé en Charge) of 8,250kg or less.
A PTAC corresponds to the English Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM), and for caravans is the maximum weight of with a safe load of baggage.
For those with a UK licence first registered after January 1, 1997 and before December 16, 2021, only a standard ‘B’ licence was granted when passing a test.
The limits for UK Category B licences are the same as for France Category B licences, which allow up to 3,500kg (combined car and caravan weight).
However, the caravans themselves cannot exceed a weight of 750kg, if they are being towed and do not have their own brakes.
Additional categories may be required on licence
If your caravan weight is above 750kg or combined car and caravan weight is more than 3,500kg, you will need one of two additional categories on your licence.
The first is the ‘Mention B96’, which allows for combined caravan and car weights above 3,500kg but below 4,250kg.
Caravans can be heavier than 750kg provided they still fit with the combined car + caravan weight restrictions.
This licence requires seven hours of training at a driving school.
For cases when the PTAC is more than 4,250kg, a category ‘B+E’ is needed on your licence.
To receive this, you need to pass a theory and driving test at a driving school – both this and the Mention B96 can be attained in the UK before you travel.
UK licences issued after December 16, 2021 automatically have a ‘BE’ category.
Even with a category B+E the vehicle towing the caravan must weigh 3,500kg or less without a caravan – heavier vehicles require a class C licence. Almost all cars and most SUVs will be below this weight.
The weighting rules are similar for campervans with brakes, only those weighing 3,500kg or less can be driven with a standard ‘B’ permit.
Those with an older UK licence who want to benefit from the automatic B+E category are recommended to update their licence to a modern photocard format, that shows they are authorised to drive such weights (newer licences will automatically be given in the newer format).
Check your transport method
Note that whilst you are able to travel to France from the UK with a caravan or motorhome, the specifications of the vehicle may impact which crossing type is best or indeed available for you.
For example, certain gas containers cannot be taken on the Eurotunnel service, and others need to be completely switched off and disconnected before you can enter the shuttle.
You should check the rules on the ferry or shuttle service you choose before making your journey.