FAQs About Van Hire

Driving licence and van hire age related questions

General van queries

Van hire questions

What to do if you have problems during the hire

Driving licence and van hire age related questions

Q: Can I drive a van on a car license?

A: As long as the maximum gross (loaded) weight of the van is not more than 3.5 tonnes, you can drive a van on a car license. Almost all rental vans fit this category, so you should have no problems

Q: How old do I need to be to hire a van?

A: Legally, you can drive any van up to 3.5t from the age of 17, assuming you have a valid car (category B) driving licence. However, the reality is that insurance costs mean that many van hire companies require you to be 25, although there are some which will rent to people age 21 upwards - often the smaller, local hire companies will do this. See our van hire age guidelines for a list of age restrictions by van hire company.

Q: Can I hire a van with an automatic transmission?

A: Automatic vans are becoming more common, but they are still fairly rare in the UK. If you have a car licence that is restricted to automatics only (Category B with information code 78, or B1 on older licences), have a look at our Automatic Van Hire page for a list of hire companies who do offer automatic van hire.

We would also suggest contacting all of your local van hire branches to see if they have any automatic vans in their fleets - you never know.

If you can't find an automatic van and can't drive a manual van, consider getting a friend with a full car licence to drive for you. Alternatively, you could try renting a large estate car or MPV instead - these might be easier to find with automatic transmissions and can be as big as a small van.

Q: I wear glasses/contact lenses for driving normally - is this ok for a van?

A: Yes. As long as your eyesight with glasses/contact lenses is acceptable for driving a car, it is fine for a van too.

Q: I am still learning to drive. Can I drive a van on a provisional licence with a qualified passenger like I can with a car?

A: Legally you can, but you will not find a rental company who will allow this. Hiring vehicles is for qualified drivers only.

Q: What is a C1 licence, where can I get one and do I need one?

A: C1 is the driving licence category that enables you to drive goods vehicles (lorries/trucks) of up to 7.5 tonnes laden weight.

Most rental vans are "plated" at a maximum of 3.5 tonnes - so can be driven on a car (category B) license. However, several van hire companies also offer 7.5t trucks for rent, and these will require a C1 (or C/C+E) entitlement on your driving licence.

As a general rule, anyone who took their car driving test before 01/01/1997 will have C1 entitlement on their licence - you used to get it "for free"!

Anyone who has taken their car test since 01/01/1997 will not have C1 entitlement. If you are in this position then you will need to take an additional driving test to drive C1 (7.5t) vehicles. See the DVLA for more information.

If you're looking to hire a 7.5 tonne box van then see our 7.5 Tonne Truck and Box Van Hire page for more details and companies offering 7.5t hire.

General van queries

Q: Are vans difficult to drive?

A: Modern vans are very easy to drive, with power steering, dashboard-mounted gear sticks and smooth, strong turbo-diesel engines. In fact they can sometimes feel a little too much like a car - you need to remember that your van will be bigger and heavier than a car and require a lot more care and forward planning, especially when loaded.

Remember to take it easy on roundabouts and corners, plan further ahead than normal and adjust the wing mirrors before you set off, and you should have no problems.

Q: What kind of fuel consumption will I get from a van?

A: Modern vans normally have turbo-diesel engines which are both powerful and fairly fuel efficient. For a guide to the fuel economy of different types of van, see our What Size Van Do I Need? page which includes typical mpg figures for each type of rental van.

Remember that almost all vans run on diesel, not petrol. Make sure you do not run out of fuel, as unlike petrol engines, diesel engines cannot be started easily after running out of fuel.

Q: Do vans have central locking, electric windows, air-con, stereos, etc?

A: They can do - just like cars, it depends on their specification. In reality, most rental vans do not have luxury extras like electric windows and air-con, but almost all will have a stereo, fully-adjustable seats and often central locking - everything you need.

Van hire questions

Q: I need to rent a van for several months - can I find a company offering long-term rentals or contract hire?

A: Yes. A great many van hire companies serve the business market and offer long-term rental and contract hire services. Ask hire companies local to you first - if they don't do it they will probably be able to suggest a company that does.

Q: Can I rent a van by the hour?

A: Yes, some companies allow van rental by the hour, although there are some that have a minimum rental period of 24 hours. Check out our Hourly Van Hire page for van hire companies that offer van hire by the hour.

Q: Can I take a rented van abroad?

A: Demand is increasing to take hire vans to Spain and France especially as more people move house to Europe. As a result, some hire companies allow their vans to be taken across the Channel to mainland Europe and to Ireland - and some don't. To help you find one that does, check out our European Van Hire page.

Q: Can I rent a child or baby seat to fit the van I'm hiring?

Many rental companies will provide suitable baby, child or booster seats, but these must always be ordered in advance to guarantee availability - otherwise you may be required to provide one yourself to comply with the law.

What to do if you have problems during the hire

Q: What do I do if my rented van breaks down?

A: Any reputable van rental company will provide full breakdown cover for all their vehicles. There should be details of who to call in the vehicle, and so you should simply be able to make a call and have a breakdown service come out to you.

If it can't be fixed at the roadside, you will either be provided with a replacement van or taken (with your van and possessions) to your final destination and possibly back again! See our Van Hire Accident, Theft & Breakdown Guide for tips on what to do.

Q: What happens if I accidentally put petrol in instead of diesel?

A: Stop as soon as you realise your mistake and call out your hire company's breakdown service. They will pump out the incorrect fuel and provide you with enough diesel to get you to the next garage. You are likely to be billed for any recovery or repair costs, as it was your fault. Notify your hire company accordingly.

See our wrong fuel guide for more details.

Q: What happens if I get pulled over by the Police?

A: If you are pulled over by the police for any reason whilst driving a rental vehicle, the same rules will apply as when you are driving your own vehicle - lights, tyres, etc. must be in correct working order, seatbelts must be present and in use where required and the vehicle should be safely loaded within its limits.

This is a good reason to check a rented vehicle properly before setting off in it - in many cases, the driver is responsible whether it is their vehicle or not.

Q: What happens if I get caught speeding in a hired van?

A: If you are caught speeding in a hired van, the hire company will provide your details to the police when requested and you will receive the normal penalty for the offence.

By driving a vehicle you take responsibility for it - ownership is not usually relevent.

Q: What happens if I get a puncture in a hire van?

A: Most van wheels are basically the same as car wheels and the procedure for changing them is virtually identical. Your van should have a spare wheel and the necessary tools for changing a wheel - if it does not or if you are not comfortable doing it, just call out the hire company's breakdown firm. It is far better to get professional help than to do it wrong and risk your safety. Notify your hire company accordingly.

Note: There are some wheels you should not try to change. Do not try to change the rear wheels on a van with twin rear wheels and do not try to change the wheels on a 7.5 tonne lorry - if done incorrectly this can be very dangerous. If you are not sure what you are doing, do not do it.

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