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Is your UK driving licence valid for your new vehicle?

By raccars Published

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For most a driving licence equals freedom, but exactly what are you entitled to drive?

If you plan to stick to cars, you should be OK, but if you are planning to ride a motorcycle, tow a caravan or trailer or drive a larger vehicle then it becomes a little more complicated. Driving licences separate vehicles into licence categories, and the categories that you are entitled to drive are listed on the back of your photocard driving licence.

Here are the basic driving licence categories:

Category AM

This is a new category which applies to two and three wheelers designed to reach a maximum speed from 15.5mph to 28mph. However your basic driving licence alone is insufficient and you will also need to pass a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) test.

This category also applies to quad bikes with an unladen mass lower than 350kg - batteries are not included in the case of electric vehicles - and with a maximum speed again of 15.5mph to 28mph.

Category B

This is the important category for most drivers, allowing them to drive vehicles with a Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) up to 3,500kg and maximum passenger capacity of eight. This is the category which applies to the standard passenger car. If your licence includes Category B you are also permitted to tow trailers weighing up to 750kg, and heavier trailers with a MAM of trailer and vehicle up to 3,500kg.

Category B also permits drivers aged over 21 to use motor tricycles provided that the power output exceeds 15kW. Category B also gives disabled drivers a provisional entitlement to drive motor tricycles which are classified as Category A1 or meeting Category A requirements.

Category F

This category is for agricultural tractors and there are no attendant restrictions so any farm tractor is covered.

Category K

A category for mowing machines or other pedestrian controlled vehicles - essentially those which are self-propelled but require a human to walk behind to control them, such as rollers and lawn mowers.

Category Q

For two wheeled vehicles with a maximum combustion engine size of 50cc and a maximum speed of 15.5mph.

You may also notice the following categories appear on your driving licence:

Category B1

Applies to three or four wheeled vehicles with a maximum unladen weight of 400kg or 550kg for those designed to carry cargo. The category was created to cover tricycles and quad bikes but now falls under the motorcycle categories A and A1, but you may still see it appear on older driving licences.

Category B+E

Under this category you can drive a vehicle and trailer with a combined MAM over the standard 3,500kg limit but no more than 8,250kg. This is another older category which may be seen on licences issued before 1 January 1997. Licences issued after this date require drivers to take a further test to entitle them to drive vehicles and trailers in this category. B+E tests taken between 1 January 1997 and 19 January 2013 entitle the holder to tow trailers of unlimited size, but B+E tests taken after 19 January 2013 limit drivers to trailers which are themselves limited to an MAM of 3,500kg.

Category B auto

For car drivers who have only qualified to drive an automatic car. This does not entitle you to drive a manual car.

Category P

For two wheelers with a maximum speed of 31mph and a maximum combustion engine size of 50cc, also seen on older licences but now absorbed by Category AM.

Any other categories which can appear on a licence require additional testing, such as Category A for motorcycles over 47bhp, Categories C1, C1+E and C+E for lorries and HGVs, Category D1 and D1+E for minibuses, Categories D and D+E for buses, Category G for a road roller.

And don't forget Category H - for tanks!

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