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Driving a Van UK Guidelines

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) sets out the legislation and licence requirements for van drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales.

This help guide explains who is allowed to drive a van, how speed and weight limits apply when driving vans, and the special rules for loading and on drivers' hours.

UK Licence Requirements to Drive a Van

To begin with, it's important to check if your driver's licence allows you to drive a van.

Having a standard category B car driving licence means you're allowed to drive vans up to 3,500 kilograms.

But, passing the driving test after 1st of January 1997 means you may need to take extra tests to:

Pro Tip: You can view your driving record to check what vehicles you can drive. Another section also explains the process for adding categories to your driving licence.

MOT and Insurance Rules for Vans

You must have appropriate and valid van road tax before you drive your vehicle on any public roads in the United Kingdom.

WARNING: Driving a van without the proper licence can result in a fine up to £1,000 and you can also get up to six (6) penalty points. You can get a £1,000 fine if you get caught driving a van without valid vehicle tax or MOT test certificate.

When Do You Need to MOT a Van?

After a van reaches three (3) years old, getting an MOT will be a requirement every year. Thus, you need to get it tested for road safety no later than the anniversary of its previous MOT.

The MOT station will classify your van as (either):

Rules for Having Motor Insurance

Not only do you need vehicle insurance to drive a van, you also need to inform the insurer about the level of cover required. For example, vans driven for business purposes usually have a higher premium.

WARNING: Driving a van without valid insurance can result in an unlimited fine and six (6) to eight (8) penalty points on your licence.

Van Speed Limits UK

The UK speed limits for vans is lower than car derived vans and normal cars. Plus, the penalty for speeding can be £1,000 (£2,500 for motorway offences) and you could get up to six (6) penalty points on your licence.

Van Weight Limits

All commercial vehicles have a maximum they can weigh when they're fully loaded. Thus, the vehicle identification number (VIN) displays the "design gross weight" (often called gross vehicle weight) for every van.

Besides the maximum that the van is allowed to weigh, the vehicle's weight limit will also include the weight of the fuel, cargo, as well as the driver and passengers.

You can find a weighbridge close to your location if you need to check the van weight, a lorry, a trailer, or another vehicle.

Driving an Overloaded Van

Overloading a van, or any of the individual axles, can affect its safety and performance. As a consequence of that, exceeding the maximum permitted axle weight can result in a £300 fine or a court summons.

Securing the Goods

Not all vans have a strong bulkhead compartment to separate the cabin from the cargo area. Hence, the contents may slide into the cab if they have not been secured in the proper manner.

Pro Tip: Load goods evenly throughout the cargo bay and place the heaviest items at the bottom. Take proper steps to avoid overloading the axles. You should also use proper restraints (e.g. netting, straps) to secure the contents of the cargo.

Daily Driving Limits for Vans

The general guidelines on how long you can drive a van for before you need to take a break will depend on the:

You need to be following the Great Britain drivers' hours domestic rules for goods vehicles if you are driving a van for more than four (4) hours a day for business purposes. The fine for exceeding the daily driving limits can be as much as £300.

If You Travel Outside the United Kingdom

Driving a van overseas means you will need to follow the domestic rules for the relevant countries where you will be visiting. The appropriate embassies can give you further information.

The EU rules apply for anyone who is towing a trailer where the combined design gross weight is over 3.5 tonnes (some exemptions apply).

UK Parking Rules for Vans

If you see two (2) yellow vertical lines on the kerb it means you cannot load. There might be further restrictions that you need to comply with (as displayed on a plated sign).

A white box marked "Loading Only" with details of any specific restrictions on a plated sign generally means they are specific facilities that have been designated as loading bays.

Van Maintenance Guidelines

One of the primary responsibilities for van drivers is keeping the vehicle in a safe condition. The van driver's daily walkaround check highlights the simple safety checks that you can do.

Using a van in a dangerous condition can result in a fine up to £2,500 and you may also get three penalty points on your licence.

Towing a Trailer with a Van

As long as your driving licence allows you to tow a trailer, you need to check the UK towing limits to see what you can tow. You will need a goods vehicle operator licence for the van and trailer, if the:

An operator's licence is not a requirement if the unladen weight of the trailer is less than 1,020 kilograms and you are carrying your own goods. But, remember that towing a trailer with a van will reduce your legal speed limits.

Roadside Checks for Van Drivers

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officers and the police can ask commercial vehicle drivers to stop at the roadside and issue fixed penalties for van drivers who commit an offence.

Here's the thing:

The law allows them to conduct spot checks on vans and issue prohibitions if they deem it necessary. Put another way, a prohibition would prevent you from driving the vehicle until you fix the problem.

Self-employment and Employing Van Drivers

According to the law in the United Kingdom, self-employed individuals and anyone who is employing other drivers needs to (both):

You also have the responsibility for ensuring that your van(s) is safe to drive, your drivers have been appropriately trained, they are aware of road traffic laws, and they are following all UK Highway Code guidelines.

Pro Tip: A company may be liable if an employee gets killed or injured during their working hours. Another guide contains more information about operating a fleet of vans in the United Kingdom.

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