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Campervans with trailers: are there special French rules for over 70s?

A campervan driver with a French driving licence seeks advice on what weight of trailer he can tow and if there are any extra rules related to age

There are different licences and approvals required for driving campervans of different weights in France Pic: Andrey Armyagov / Shutterstock

Reader question: I drive a camper van on my French licence. I would like to add a trailer. It appears that now I am over 70, I am restricted as to what I can tow and perhaps need to somehow upgrade my licence by having a medical. If this is correct how do I do this? 

When it comes to driving campervans and towing trailers, age is not necessarily a factor in France (as long as you are over 18). The most important element when it comes to knowing which type of licence you need is related to the weight of the vehicle and the trailer.

The rule in France is this:

You can drive a campervan in France on a standard B licence as long as the gross vehicle weight (GVW) is under 3,500kg. 

The GVW means the total weight of the vehicle when it is carrying its maximum payload. 

Quirk to the rule

There is one quirk to this rule. Drivers who have held their B licence since before January 20, 1975, can drive heavy campervans for motorhomes - meaning those weighing between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes - without a weight limit and without a medical examination.

If, like our reader, you wish to tow a trailer with your campervan, then there could be different rules. 

You will need a B96 approval on your licence if you wish to drive your vehicle with a trailer with a maximum weight of 750kg. However, the total combination of weight (towing vehicle + trailer) must not exceed 4,250kg.

You can get a B96 licence after a seven-hour training course, provided at driving schools.

If you want to drive a vehicle with a trailer attachment weighing over 750kg, then you will need the BE licence (formerly known as the E/B licence). Again, the total combination of weight (towing vehicle + trailer) must not exceed 4,250kg.

Since 2016, a medical examination is no longer required to obtain a BE licence. The licence is valid for 15 years and can be renewed by an administrative procedure. 

Obtaining and renewing the licence may be limited for health reasons. You can find out more about getting the BE licence at this link. 

For driving anything over these weights, you will likely need a C1 licence. This will allow you to drive a vehicle with a GVW between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes, with an added trailer of less than 750kg. 

To obtain this licence, you are required to sit a theory and a practical test. 

The C1 licence is valid for five years or until the 60th birthday for people under 55 and up to 60 years of age. 

Beyond that age, the validity period is two years until the age of 76 (and then it is one year from that age). 

A medical examination is compulsory for its renewal.

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