Unless you earned your Category B licence prior to 1st January 1997, you need an additional entitlement in order to tow a trailer with your car. We have laid out all the details regarding the various licence categories applicable to recreational trailer towing elsewhere on the site. If you need information about licence categories, please consult one of our other guides. In this guide, we will focus primarily on what you need to know about the UK towing test.
The towing test is conducted at certified testing centres throughout the UK. As you know, the government has made significant strides toward increasing the number of available testing centres by allowing private sector contractors to operate testing facilities for non-commercial vehicles. Nonetheless, there may be a wait time involved with booking your trailer test. Keep that in mind so that you have enough time to get your licence before you have a need to start towing.
We recommend new trailer owners undergo professional training in preparation for the towing test. The test is not easy for drivers who have little or no experience with towing, which just happens to be the vast majority of drivers taking the test. Undergoing professional training equips you with the knowledge and skills you need along with giving you time to practice before you take your test. We are happy to say that the HGV Training Centre offers high-quality trailer towing training at more than four dozen facilities throughout the country.
There is only one test required to obtain a towing licence. It is known as the car and trailer practical skills driving test. Fortunately, there is no additional requirement of a theory test among drivers who will be towing recreationally. Passing the theory test to obtain a Category B car licence is deemed sufficient for recreational towing.
The practical skills driving test is essentially a scaled down version of the test professional lorry drivers must pass to get their licences. The entire test takes about an hour to complete; it includes a demonstration of both driving skills and general driving and safety knowledge. The following are included in the towing test:
The vast majority of safety questions are directly related to the tow vehicle. Drivers will be expected to answer some verbally, answer others through a physical demonstration, and still others by combining both oral explanation and physical demonstration. For example, a driver may be instructed to lift the bonnet of the tow vehicle and explain how to check fluid levels. Another possible question might relate to demonstrating how a driver knows his/her indicators are working correctly.
The vehicle safety question portion of the test involves five total questions based on a ‘show me, tell me’ model. Answering a question incorrectly will result in a fault – up to a maximum of four faults. Answering all five questions incorrectly results in a serious fault being recorded.
The HGV Training Centre includes preparation for the vehicle safety questions in our training programme. Anyone attempting to take the towing test without formal training can get an idea of what questions might be asked by using the government’s free guide. The guide is available as a PDF document on the NIDirect website.
It is expected that all drivers showing up for the towing test at an approved testing facility will already be prepared. To that end, drivers are required to bring with them a photo card driving licence or a signed paper licence along with a passport for identification purposes. Drivers also bring their own cars and trailers appropriate to the kind of licence they are attempting to obtain. This means an already licenced driver will have to accompany the candidate to the test in order to legally tow the trailer being used.
There are specific requirements for tow vehicles and trailers as well. These are as follows:
Understand that the examiner will do a thorough inspection to make sure tow vehicle and trailer meet minimum requirements before beginning the test. As mentioned earlier, any combination failing to meet minimum requirements will be automatically disqualified.
You should now have most of the information you need to anticipate what will be expected of you during your towing test. Now it is a matter of preparing for that test. It is legal for you to book and take the test without undergoing any formal training. Is that a good idea? Probably not. The biggest problem most new drivers face is the lack of experience both behind the wheel and during the five-question vehicle safety portion of the test. Training makes up for that lack of experience.
The HGV Training Centre offers both five and three-day courses to prepare drivers for the towing test. The longer course is for completely inexperienced drivers while the shorter course is intended for drivers with some experience who may not have undergone professional training before. We strongly urge you to take one of these classes before you attempt to take the towing test.
Whether you go through formal training or not, studying is the key to passing. We recommend a week or two of consistent study every single day. In other words, do not wait until the night before your test to go over all of the information you are going to need the next day. A little bit of study every day, spread over a week or two, is the best way to prepare yourself for the test.
Should you decide to train with the HGV Training Centre, you will have access to experienced instructors who know what it takes to succeed. Our instructors put hundreds of drivers through their paces every single month before watching them go on to take and pass their tests successfully. Rest assured that our instructors want to see you pass as much as you do. They will provide you with all the help and support you need to make it a reality.
The towing test is a requirement for anybody who obtained a car licence after 1st January 1997 and who wants to tow a trailer or caravan. If you are unsure of your own status, you can contact us here at the HGV Training Centre or consult the free government guidance provided online. If you are ready to begin training, we can get you signed up for the next class being conducted in your area.
The following articles provide further information to extend your knowledge and understanding of trailer towing.
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