There are millions of vehicles travelling on the UK’s roads every single day. The drivers of these vehicles have to hold a licence by law, but there is more than one driving licence available. Making sure you have the correct licence is essential, so you’re free to drive on any public road.
Section 1 Vehicles (Cars, Light Vans, Mopeds And Motorcycles)
Driving Licence Category A: Motor Bicycle
Motor bicycles are not the same as motorcycles, they are motorised bicycles that aren’t too dissimilar to regular bicycles. Those wanting to ride a motor bicycle on a public road will need to ensure their bicycle does not exceed 25kW or 33bhp during the first two years of the licence. A ‘Large motorcycle test’ will need to be taken if the bicycle exceeds or is expected to exceed these standards.
Driving Licence Category A1: Learner Motorcycle
There are many powerful motorcycles available, and those who are inexperienced need to stay away from vehicles such as these until they are used to handling a motorcycle. This is because accidents are likely to be caused due to the sheer power of the vehicle and the difficulty some may have in keeping it under control. Because of this, learner motorcycles should not exceed 125cc 11kW/14.6bhp. A CBT (Compulsory basic training test) will also have to be undertaken before the driver is allowed a category 1A licence.
Driving Licence Category B: Motor Vehicles not exceeding 3500kg (And other conditions)
Any motor vehicle that does not exceed 3500kg can be used on a public road, but in order to satisfy the authorities it also needs to have no more than 8 passenger seats (Not including the driver). The other conditions include not exceeding the maximum authorised mass of 750kg in a trailer that is being towed.
If the trailer’s weight does exceed 750 kg maximum authorised mass (M.A.M) the combined weight of the vehicle and the trailer should not be more than 3.5 tonnes. Towing a damaged vehicle that exceeds 305 tonnes out of the way of the road in order to prevent accidents is permitted.
Anyone who has held a driving licence before 1st January 1997 is allowed to drive vehicles that currently come under Licence categories B+E, C1, C1+E, D1 and D1+E
Driving Licence Category B+E: Motor vehicles that come under category B with trailers that exceed 750 kg M.A.M
New drivers that wish to use a trailer that exceeds 750 kg will need to take another test to ensure they are capable of towing a trailer that carries a lot of weight. New drivers are still learning about how to use the road and deal with a varying degree of traffic in different locations and weather situations. With this in mind, its essential extra tests are taken so the driver is capable of towing a heavy weight.
Driving Licence Category B1: Motor vehicles that have 3 or 4 wheels and do not exceed 550 kg
Vehicles that fall into this category are often known as ‘Quadracycles’ and are built close to the ground. If a vehicle such as this exceeds 550kg or they are laden with goods that exceed the weight, a category B licence is required.
Some Quadracycles are so close to the ground the driver of the vehicle is not required to wear a helmet. If you’re driving your vehicle in another country, you should check the local traffic and vehicle laws as wearing a helmet in some countries may be a legal requirement. If you do not wish to wear a helmet you should make sure your Quadracycle entitles you to be exempt from wearing one.
Driving License category B1 (Invalid carriages)
The vehicles that fall into this category are those which also fall into licence category B but they are used as invalid carriages. These vehicles may have been specially adapted so a person with a disability can legally drive it. A test will need to be taken to determine the drivers’ capabilities and an assessment will be made that ensures they are aware of the specific alteration that need to be made to the vehicle.
Driving Licence Category P: Mopeds
A CBT (Compulsory basic test) is needed before you’re allowed to travel on a public road. This requirement is needed by those who have a provisional driving licence and a full driving licence if the test was passed before January 2nd 2001.
Compulsory basic tests ensure the driver has a basic awareness of the laws of the road and is able to read road signs properly and follow instructions correctly. This ensures the drivers safety and that of other road users and pedestrians is not compromised.
Section 2 Vehicles (Tractors, Electric Vehicles, Rollers and Goods Vehicles)
Licence Category C: Motor vehicles that do not fall into categories D, F, G or H. These vehicles exceed 3500kg (Maximum authorised mass) and can to a trailer that does not exceed 750 kg (M.A.M)
In order to be able to drive vehicles that fall into this category, drivers will need to take a specific test. This test ensures they are fully capable of driving goods vehicles that are heavy than those in category B. Additional medical tests will also need to be undertaken to ensure the driver is well enough to use vehicles such as these on public roads.
Driving Licence Category C+E: Vehicles that come under category C that have a trailer which exceeds 750kg M.A.M
The drivers of vehicles in this category will need to own a category C licence. They will also be required to undertake a specific medical test that has specific and higher needs which must be met. Drivers will also need to take an extra a driving test to prove they are capable of towing a trailer that exceeds the above weight.
Driving Licence Category C1: Vehicles that weigh between 3500kg and 7500kg. This licence also covers trailers that don’t exceed 750kg M.A.M
If the driver of the vehicle is under 21 years of age the combined weight of the vehicle and the trailer must not exceed 7500 kg. This is due to the large number of people under the age of 21 being involved in accidents.
Driving Licence Category C1+E: Vehicles that come under Category C1 with a trailer that exceeds 750 kg M.A.M
The total combined weight of the vehicle and trailer should not exceed 12000 Kg. The M.A.M (Maximum authorised mass) of the trailer should not exceed the weight of a vehicle in this category that is not carrying any goods or passengers. Drivers under the age of 21 years should have a combined weight of no more than 7500 kg).
New drivers of the vehicles that come under this category need to hold a category C1 licence and take an additional driving test. Those who have a licence that was issued before January 1st 1997 will have a limited C1+E licence that entitles them to drive a combined weight of 8.25 tonnes unless a later test was taken.
Driving Licence Category C1+ E (8.25 tonnes): Vehicles that come under category C1 with a trailer that exceeds 750 kg M.A.M.
The total combined weight of the vehicle and trailer must not exceed 8250 kg. The weight of the trailer is allowed to exceed the weight of the vehicle providing the vehicle is not carrying any goods or passengers.
A driver that has a C1+E (8250kg) licence that was issued before January 1st 1997 is unable to exceed 8250 kg, unless a new C1+E test has been taken. Drivers under the age of 21 years are limited to a combined weight of 7500kg.
Driving Licence Category F: Tractors (Agricultural and forestry)
Vehicles that come under this licence are those which are not tracked and have their own wheels. Although these vehicles are used on private land and roads, they are occasionally used on public roads and therefore need a licence.
Driving Licence Category G: Road Roller
These vehicles are often called ‘Roller compactors’ and are often used in farming and construction. There are approximately 22 different types of road rollers and they frequently weigh between 20 and 54 tonnes. Therefore a suitable licence is required by the individual who drives and uses the vehicle.
Driving License Category H: Tracked Vehicles
Vehicles that are steered by tracks will need to be covered by a category H licence. Vehicles in this category are often used in agriculture, construction and the military. Vehicles in this category are often referred to as unmanned ground vehicles, tractor crawlers, track-laying vehicles or track-type tractors.
Driving Licence Category K: Mower and Pedestrian controlled vehicles
The vehicles that come under this category are mowers that can be sat on and used. A licence is needed for these vehicles due to the risk that is taken when using the vehicle. Mower and pedestrian owned vehicles may often be used on private land but they can also be used on public land too.
Driving Licence Category L: Electric Vehicles
Despite electric vehicles being lighter than traditional vehicles, they need to be licenced as they are used on public roads. This is to ensure a minimal awareness of road safety and usage at all times, regardless of the size and weight of the vehicle.
Section 3 Vehicles (Passenger Vehicles)
Driving Licence Category D: Passenger vehicles that have more than 8 seats (Not including the driver)
Passenger vehicles in this category are able to tow a trailer that does not exceed 750 kg M.A.M. Drivers of these vehicles will need to take a separate driving test and a medical test that will need to be passed. Passenger vehicles are a lot bigger and heavier than cars, therefore extra care and attention will need to be taken when driving.
Driving Licence Categories D+E: Category D vehicle and a trailer that exceeds 750 kg M.A.M
Those who wish to drive a vehicle in this category will need to hold a category D licence and take an additional specific driving test. A medical test will also need to be passed.
Driving Licence Category D1: Passenger vehicles that have 9-16 seats (Not including the driver)
Passenger vehicles in this category are able to tow a trailer that does not exceed 750 kg M.A.M. as with other category D licences, an additional driving test and medical test will need to be taken and passed.
Driving Licence Categories D1+E: Category D vehicles and a trailer that exceeds 750 kg M.A.M
Vehicles in this category should not exceed a combined weight of 12,000 kg. The maximum authorised mass (M.A.M.) of the trailer should not exceed the weight of the vehicle when the vehicle is not carrying goods or passengers.
Drivers of vehicles in this category are required to hold a category D1 licence. An additional driving test will need to be taken to ensure the driver can use the vehicle safely. This licence is suitable for public service vehicles and is known as a ‘Small PSV licence’. The licence states that passengers are not allowed to be towed in the trailer.
Licence Category D1 (Not for hire or reward): Passenger vehicles that have 9-16 seats (not including the driver)
Vehicles in this category are not to be used for hire or reward. This licence is to be used by volunteer or permitted drivers who may not need a D1 licence. A trailer can be towed behind the passenger vehicle, but it must not exceed 750 kg M.A.M. New drivers of these vehicles will need to take a separate test in addition to the basic driving test, and pass a medical test.
Driving Licence Categories D1+E (Not for hire or reward): Category D1 vehicle and a trailer that exceeds 750 kg M.A.M.
Volunteer drivers are permitted to drive vehicles in this category and use a trailer that exceeds the weight of the vehicle when it’s not carrying goods or passengers. New drivers of these vehicles will need to take a separate test in addition to the basic driving test.