Driving Licence categories explained

Everything you need to know about driving licence categories...

Driving Licence Categories Explained

When you get your driving licence, you can legally drive any car you like, on any public road. While this may be common knowledge, it is less common knowledge that your licence actually allows you to go further than that.

You know those numbers and letters on the back of your licence? Those state what you can and cannot drive. Many ignore them or don’t even think about them because they only drive a car, but you might be curious as to what those driving categories mean.

So in this article, we are going to look at each licence category and what it means. We will also look at how old you have to be to drive certain vehicles.

What are the licence categories for Mopeds?

Mopeds are a popular sight on our roads, particularly in cities due to the fact you can park them easier and scoot through city traffic. So here are the licence categories for mopeds;

Category AM

This is a fairly new classification and means that you can drive two- or three-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of between 15.5mph and 28mph. This also includes quad bikes with an unladen mass of no more than 350kg and a maximum design speed of over 15.5mph but no more than 28mph.

To have this category on your licence you will need to pass a compulsory basic training (CBT) test.

Category P

Category P means you can drive 2-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 28mph but not more than 31mph. The engine size must not be more than 50cc if it’s powered by a combustion engine.

Category Q

You can drive 2-wheeled vehicles with an engine size no more than 50cc (if powered by an internal combustion engine) and a maximum design speed of no more than 15.5mph.

What are the licence categories for Motorcycles?

There are a few driving categories for motorcycles as it depends on their cc and their power output.

Category A1

This category is for light motorbikes. You can drive any motorbike with an engine size up to 125cc, a power output of 11kW and a power to weight ratio no more than 0.1kW/kg.

Category A2

You can drive a motorcycle with a power output of 35kW and a power to weight ratio of no more than 0.2kW/kg.

The motorcycle must not be derived from a vehicle of more than its power.

Category A

This category means you can drive a motorcycle with a power output of more than 35kW or a power to weight ration more than 0.2kW/kg. You can also drive a motor tricycle with a power output of more than 15kW.

What are the licence categories for cars?

Now let’s move onto cars. These driving categories are most likely to apply to you and you may well already know them. That said, it’s always good to refresh your memory.

Category B – if you passed your test before 1st January 1997

If you passed your test before 1st January 1997 then you can drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg. You are also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM). Maximum Authorised Mass means the weight of a vehicle or trailer including the maximum load that can be carried safely on a road. This is also referred to as a gross vehicle weight or permissible maximum weight.

Category B – if you passed your test on or after 1st January 1997

You can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats.

You can also drive with a trailer up to 750kg and tow a trailer if the total does not exceed 3,5000kg MAM.

Category B Auto

This is the same as category B but you can only drive it in automatic. You cannot drive a manual vehicle if you have this licence.

Category BE

This means you can drive a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg with a trailer. However, the size of the trailer depends on when you passed your test.

If you passed your test before 19th January 2013 then you can tow any size trailer. This will be B+E on your licence.

If you passed your test on or after 19th January 2013 then you can tow a trailer with a MAM of 3,500kg.

What are the licence categories for medium sized vehicles?

Category C1

You can drive vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg MAM with a trailer of up to 750kg.

Category C1E

This category means that you can drive C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg. But, the combined Maximum Authorised Mass cannot exceed 12,000kg.

What are the licence categories for large vehicles?

Category C

You can drive vehicles over 3,500kg with a trailer up to 750kg.

Category CE

You can drive category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.

What are the licence categories for Minibuses?

Category D1

If you have this category on your licence then you can drive vehicles with:

  • No more than 16 passenger seats
  • A maximum length of 8 metres
  • A trailer up to 750kg

Category D1E

You can drive D1 category vehicles but also a trailer of over 750kg. However, the MAM cannot exceed 12,000kg.

What are the licence categories for buses?

Should you fancy driving a bus, you will need to have a separate category on your licence for you to be able to do so.

Category D

This means you can drive a bus with more than 8 passenger seats and a trailer up to 750kg.

Category DE

The same as above but with a trailer over 750kg.

Other licence categories

The following categories are ones that probably don’t turn up on many people’s licences but will pop up occasionally. Also, it’s always good to know what category you need to legally drive a road roller.

Category F

If you have this on your licence then you are allowed to drive any agricultural tractor.

Category G

Fancy driving a road roller? You’ll need Category G on your licence.

Category H

Not everyone can drive a tank. Only those that have Category H on their licence can drive tracked vehicles.

Category K

This is an interesting one. This means you can operate a mowing machine or a pedestrian-controlled vehicle. Including a lawn mower, apparently.

Category L

This allows you to drive electrically-propelled vehicles.

Category M

This means you can drive trolley vehicles.

So hopefully that has cleared a few things up about licensing categories. Be aware that for many of these categories including for motorbikes and buses, you will need to take a separate test for these before they appear on your licence.

How old can you be to have a moped licence?

To ride a moped you will either need a valid licence or a moped licence. You can get a moped licence at the age of 16. You will still have to have a provisional licence and complete a CBT if you want to ride a moped.

How old can you be to have a motorbike licence?

You are not allowed to ride a motorbike until you are 17 years old and have completed the CBT. After you have completed the CBT training you can ride a 50cc moped. If you are over 17 and have category A on your licence then you can ride a learner legal motorcycle up to 125cc.

Once you have turned 19 you can take the A2 practical test for a full licence. You can take your full direct access course for category A at the age of 24.

How old do you have to be to drive a minibus?

You can drive a minibus in the UK as long as you are 21 or older and have had your licence for at least 2 years.

How old do you have to be to drive a bus?

To drive a Passenger-Carrying Vehicle then you only have to be 18. However, Arriva buses state that they tend to take on those who are 21 and have been driving for 12 months.

In conclusion, there are a number of driving categories that could be on your licence. The chances are you will have to take more tests, both practical and theory, in order to drive many of the vehicles we’ve mentioned above. However, it is always good to note the different categories and what you can and can’t drive in those categories.

Do you need to apply for a driving licence? We cover everything you need to know about applying for a driving licence

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

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