Towing an American caravan or trailer

4. Towing an American caravan or trailer

American trailers and caravans don’t always meet European safety regulations.

If you want to use an American caravan or trailer in the UK or the EU, you must first check that it’s legal.

Read more information in the factsheet ‘American caravan/trailer brakes and couplign up to 3500 kg maximum laden weight’


The car and trailer practical test

5. The car and trailer practical test

You may have to take a further test if you want to tow a caravan or certain types of trailer.


Licences held from 1 January 1997

You’ll need to take a practical test to get a B+E entitlement on your licence if you passed your driving test after this date and hold a category B (car) licence.

You’ll need to do this if you want to tow a trailer or caravan heavier than 750 kilograms (kg) when the combined maximum authorised mass (MAM) of the towing vehicle and the trailer or caravan is more than 3,500kg.

MAM means the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road. This is also known as gross vehicle weight.


Rules for the vehicle you use

Check the rules for the car you can use for the practical driving test.


Extra rules for the trailer test

You must tow a minimum weight for the practical test.

Trailers must have a minimum real weight of 800 kg and carry a minimum load of 600 kg of aggregates or 1 intermediate bulk container (IBC) of 1,000 kg or 600 kg capacity when filled with water. You can read more about rules covering load requirements.

The trailer must have an MAM of at least 1 tonne. The examiner may ask for evidence of the trailer’s MAM, eg the manufacturer’s plate.



The vehicle must be fitted with:

  • externally mounted nearside and offside mirrors (for the examiner to use)
  • a device that shows the trailer’s indicators are working properly

Brakes and coupling

All vehicle combinations must have appropriate brakes and use a coupling arrangement that’s suitable for the weight of the trailer.


Trailer cargo compartment

This must:

  • be a closed box body
  • be at least as wide and as high as the towing vehicle

What happens during the test

Before you start the driving ability part of your test, you’ll have an eyesight check and be asked 5 vehicle safety questions.


The eyesight check

You’ll have to read a number plate from a distance of:

  • 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
  • 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate

Vehicle safety questions: ‘show me, tell me’

You’ll be asked 5 vehicle safety questions. These are also known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.

The examiner will ask you ‘show me’ questions, where you’ll have to show them how you’d carry out a vehicle safety check.

You’ll also be asked ‘tell me’ questions, where you’ll have to explain to the examiner how you’d carry out the check.


Driving ability

You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions. If possible, these should include:

  • dual-carriageways
  • one-way systems
  • motorways

You’ll also be asked to do around 10 minutes of independent driving.


Reversing exercise

You’ll have to show that you can manoeuvre your car and trailer in a restricted space and stop at a certain point.


Uncoupling and recoupling

During the test you’ll be asked to uncouple and couple your car and trailer.


Fees and booking

It costs £115 to take the test on a weekday and £141 during evenings, weekends or bank holidays.

Book the car and trailer practical driving test.

You must bring both parts of your driving licence – the photocard and the paper counterpart. You must take your signed driving licence and a valid passport if you have an old-style paper licence.

Your test will be cancelled and you’ll lose your fee if you don’t bring the right documents.


More New Trailers

Mike and Claire Berridge

The picture above shows Mike Daniels Sales/Service Director of DanHire Trailers (Bungay) receiving new trailers from Mike and Claire Berridge of Norfolk Trailers based at Hellesdon Business Park (Norwich).

Major investment has been put into the company DanHire.

Mike Daniels also reports of a busy time in the sales department of new and used trailers.

Ford Ranger used by DanHire

This picture shows the Ford Ranger used by DanHire for all trailer recovery, with one of the Ifor Williams CT177 Tilt Bed Car Transporters that can be hired from DanHire.


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