Driving a camper on a car licence in the UK - all you need to know

With foreign holidays seeing huge price rises due to the cost-of-living-crisis, UK staycations in the likes of a campervan are looking like a popular option for many. Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden looks at the rules covering whether or not you can drive one on a car licence and how old you need to be.

Camper van parked on beachCan you drive a camper van (motorhome) on a car licence?  (Credit: Pxhere.com)

Can I drive a camper on a car licence in the UK?

The answer to whether you will be able to drive a camper on a full UK driving licence will depend on two things: firstly, how old you are and secondly the weight of the motorhome you want to drive.

Here we look at how these two variables dictate what motorhome you can drive.

You passed your car driving test before 1 January 1997

If you passed your test before 1 January 1997, you will have the C1 category automatically applied to your driving licence. You can check the back of your photocard licence to confirm this is the case.  

The inclusion of C1 category on your car licence means you can drive vehicles with Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) up to 7,500kg. This will cover you to drive all but the biggest American-style RV campers – allowing you to book your staycation camper van with confidence you’ll be driving legally.

You passed your car driving test after 1 January 1997

If you passed your car test after 1 January 1967, you will have different categories to drivers who did the same a few days earlier. Your licence will instead have categories B and B1.

Having B and B1 on your driving licence will limit you to driving a camper (or other vehicle for that matter) with a MAM of up to 3,500kg (B) and tow a trailer up to 750kg behind it.

The good news is that many modern motorhomes operating on UK roads have a MAM of less than 3,500kg, so not having the C1 on your licence should not be a huge barrier to getting behind the wheel of a decent-sized motorhome.

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How can I drive a camper over 3,500kg if I passed my driving test after 1 January 1997?

If you need to drive a camper that weighs more than 3,500kg but don’t have C1 on your licence, you will need to take a test to have the category added. You can find out more information about adding C1 to your licence on the Gov.uk website here.  

How old do you need to be to drive a camper in the UK?

Drivers without the C1 category on their driving licence will need to be 18 before they can take an additional test to drive campers with a MAM of up to 7,500kg

Is there an upper age limit to drive campers?

If you passed your car test before 1 January 1997, you should still be able to drive a camper up to a MAM of 7,500kg, but you will need to declare any medical conditions that may impact your ability to drive. A decision will be made as to whether you can carry on driving campers at the time of renewing your licence – which needs to be done as you hit 70, and every three years thereafter.

Camper driving categories at a glance

Category C1

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

Category B (passed your test on or after 1 January 1997)

You can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750kg).

You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500kg.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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