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Van driver licence

Van driving is a booming business. Delivery drivers are in high demand and more and more entrepreneurs are taking their business models to the streets (in vans) to help get their products and services to their customers near and far. 

Making sure you are driving your van legally is an important consideration, so here we explain all you need to know about UK driving licences and van insurance. 

When did you pass your UK driving test?

As a van driver, the date you gained your standard UK driving licence is important because if you passed your driving test in or after 1997 you can't drive the same categories of vehicle that can be driven by someone who passed their UK driving test before 1 January 1997. 

Take a look at your driving licence – on the back, there is a chart which shows all the types of vehicles you are able to drive using your current licence. 

If you passed your test before 1997, you are usually able to drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes (3,500kg) GVM/MAM (see our blog on van payloads for more about GVM/MAM). Your driving licence will also show several other categories of vehicle that you can drive, such as categories B1, C1, D1, BE, C1E and D1E. 

If you passed your UK driving test on or after 1 January 1997 and have taken no further driving tests, it's likely that your licence shows just two categories of vehicles you can drive legally: AM and B vehicles. 

'A' vehicles are generally two or three-wheeled motor vehicles including mopeds and motorcycles. 'B' vehicles are generally classed as cars and light quad bikes. Many light commercial vehicles such as car-derived vans and panel vans can also fall into this category.   

Then, the vehicle categories are grouped according to maximum GVM and usage: e.g. goods transporters, buses, tractors, etc. 

Check out the Gov.UK website for more about driving licence vehicle categories

When you start driving a van you must ensure that you are licensed to do so and this will mean checking your driving licence, understanding what category the vehicle falls into, and knowing the GVM of the vehicle or the vehicle and trailer combination.  

Getting behind the wheel of a van if you passed your test before 1997

If you passed your test before 1997, you will usually be able to drive a vehicle or vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8.25 tonnes GVM. You may also be able to drive vehicles with larger GVMs without additional training or testing. 

Getting behind the wheel of a van if you passed your test in or after 1997

If you passed your test in or after 1997, you can usually drive vehicles with a GVM up to 3.5 tonnes (most van manufacturers make a range of vans, including panel vans, with a GVM of under 3.5 tonnes). You can also tow a trailer up to 750kg GVM. 

If your vehicle is lighter than 3.5 tonnes, you can tow heavier trailers, as long as the total GVM of the combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes. 

In order to drive higher category vehicles, such as larger, heavier vans and trucks (HGVs – categories C, C1, C1+E) you will need to apply for a provisional licence (you can only do this once you have passed your standard category B driving licence) and then take the appropriate driving test once you have undertaken training.   

Any driver van insurance and driving licence checks

If you drive a van without the right driving licence – for instance driving a category C vehicle, such as a 7.5 tonne Luton van on a standard driving licence gained after 1997 – then you are breaking the law. 

You could face a fine and penalty points on your licence and your van insurance will also be invalidated if you need to make a claim. 

If you buy any driver van insurance, you will need to check that all drivers are entitled to drive the insured van(s). Many insurers will also have a restriction on the age of your drivers and may require all drivers to be a minimum age of 25. 

Other van-related considerations

Making sure you have the right driving licence to drive a van is important, but there are some other important factors to think about as well. You can find out more in our blogs: 

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