This article was last updated on 31 January 2018.
The driving licence requirements for driving a van are fairly simple, but we do get a lot of questions asking about driving licences for vans, so I thought I would take a closer look to help clarify the situation.
Driving a Van – licence requirements
If you have a car driving licence (category B) than you can drive all vans with a maximum gross weight of up to 3,500kg (3.5t).
This includes vans like the Ford Transit and Volkswagen Transporter. It also includes minibuses with up to eight passenger seats.
Almost all of the vans operated by van hire companies in the UK are 3.5t models or smaller, so you shouldn’t have any problem renting and driving a van with a standard car licence.
Most hire companies have a minimum age limit and require you to have held a full driving licence for a minimum period of time. Please visit our driving licence/age restriction page for more information.
Note: It’s important not to confuse the maximum permitted weight of the van with its payload, or load capacity. A 3.5t van might typically have a maximum load weight of 900kg – 1,300kg, depending on the model and size of the van.
Driving Vehicles over 3,500kg (C1)
To drive a vehicle with a MAM of between 3,500kg and 7,500kg (3.5t – 7.5t) you need category C1 entitlement on your driving licence. This enables you to drive 7.5t lorries, of the kind that are offered by many van and truck hire companies.
If you passed your car driving test before 01/01/1997, you will have C1 entitlement. If you passed you car driving test after 01/01/1997, you will not have C1 unless you have taken a seperate C1 driving test.
However, not all van and truck rental companies will allow you to hire their 7.5t vehicles, even if you have C1 entitlement. There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that 7.5t trucks are much larger and more difficult to drive than cars. Most car drivers do not have sufficient experience in larger vehicles, so many hire companies think it is too risky to rent these vehicles out to inexperienced drivers.
The second reason is that some hire companies will insist that you must have a goods vehicle operator’s licence to hire a 7.5 tonne lorry. This is legally required if the vehicle will be used for business purposes, although it is not required for personal use such as a DIY house removal.
However, by restricting 7.5t hire to customers with an operator’s licence, hire companies can avoid many of the problems which might result from inexperienced drivers renting these large vehicles.
Driving a Minibus
Driving licence rules state that you can drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats using a car driving licence, as long as it is not for ‘hire or reward’ – in other words, as long as no one is paying for the minibus service to be provided (cash in hand for fuel, for a social trip is ok).
To drive a minibus for hire or reward, you need category D1 on your driving licence.
Hiring a minibus: Some rental companies will only allow drivers with D1 entitlement to hire a minibus, regardless of whether the minibus is going to be used for ‘hire or reward’. As with some companies’ restrictions on hiring C1 vehicles, this is likely to be due to insurance and risk restrictions.
Disclaimer: All information was believed to be correct when this page was last updated (31 Jan 2018) but vanrental.co.uk will accept no responsibility for any errors or omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of this information. Future changes to the rules may not be notified on this page. If in doubt, check directly for yourself before driving or hiring a vehicle – the gov.uk website has an excellent guide to driving licence categories.