If you’re planning to buy your first caravan or treat yourself to an upgrade, you will need to make sure you hold the correct driving licence to be legally allowed to tow it. Thanks to the new(ish) online system, it’s very easy to check what you are permitted to tow but, if you intend to buy a caravan that exceeds 750kg and the combined weight of your towing vehicle plus the caravan will be more than 3,500kg, you will need to hold a driving licence with a B&E entitlement.
First off, check here to see if you already hold this entitlement. You’ll need your driving licence number, your National Insurance number and the postcode on your driving licence to make the checks. If so, you don’t need to take any further action. If not, here’s what you need to do to obtain it.
What the B&E test includes:
- Eyesight Test – You will be requested to read a vehicle registration plate from a distance of 20 metres
- Safety Checks – You will need to be able to check the caravan as if you have not seen it before. That is, you need to prove you know where and what to check on a caravan that is not your own. The checks you will be expected to carry out include (but are not limited to) the depth of tyre treads, breakaway cable, wheel nuts and electrics. This part of the test will involve 5 “show me, tell me” type questions, more information on which can be found here.
- Uncoupling & Recoupling – You can expect to be asked to demonstrate how to uncouple and recouple the caravan and towing vehicle during the test
- Driving Ability – The various road conditions you may be tested on include dual carriageways, motorways and one-way streets. The test will also involve ten minutes of independent driving.
- Reversing – Drivers sitting their B&E licence test will be required to demonstrate their ability to reverse while towing. Reversing in a restricted area and stopping at a specified point will be included in the exercise set by the examiner.
As the test is aimed at those who have at least some experience of towing smaller outfits, it is generally advisable to undertake towing and manoeuvring classes if you have not had much practise. The Caravan Club and Camping and Caravanning Club are just two of the many companies that hold regular courses.
Tips for passing the B&E test:
Obviously enough, everyone’s test will be slightly different and there’s no accounting for test-day nerves or unforeseen circumstances but there are some general pointers to keep in mind if you would like to make the process a little easier for yourself (and we’re sure you do!).
- Don’t be afraid to take your time during the reversing element of the test. It is tempting to rush things in an attempt to get the test finished sooner, but you’re more likely to make mistakes this way. If you’ve registered for your test, you know you’re able to do it, now relax and do your thing
- Check both mirrors throughout the test, particularly while reversing
- Revise your Highway Code. We know you may have passed your driving test quite a while ago and had seemingly infinite amounts of practice, but imagine how infuriating it would be to get this far and then fail because you’ve forgotten what a particular sign means, or stop somewhere you shouldn’t
- Listen to the examiner. It sounds obvious, but it’s all too easy to be influenced by what you expect to happen, rather than paying attention to what actually is happening. If it doesn’t go as well as planned, pay attention to why and make sure to develop that area
General test information and what you need to take with you
On the day of your test, don’t forget that you need to bring:
- Your current driving licence
- A valid passport if you only have an old-style paper licence at present
- A car that meets the rules for the test environment
- A trailer carrying a minimum weight. The rules for this include a minimum weight of 800kg, a minimum load of 600kg (conditions apply) and a Maximum Authorised Mass of at least 1,000kg
Full information on the requirements can be found in the relevant section of the Gov.uk website. Bear in mind that your test will be cancelled and you will lose the fee (£115 weekdays, £141 evenings, weekends or bank holidays) should you not meet the requirements.
Booking your B&E driving test
The test can be booked online by following this link. Good luck!
Finally, make sure that your car and caravan are covered by adequate insurance. Call us on 01480 402460 to see how we can help you. We think that you'll be delighted by the level of our cover and our prices.