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29 Apr 2019
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

Driving licence categories and codes

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Working out what the driving licence codes and categories mean can be confusing. Here’s an explanation of some of the most common.

Driving licence categories and codes

Driving licence categories and codes will usually explain what vehicles you can drive, and what conditions you must meet to drive your vehicle. They can usually be found on the back of your driving licence.

Why does my driving licence have codes and categories on it?

Each category of vehicle is represented by a letter or a letter and a number. These show which vehicles you’re qualified to drive.

Some vehicles you’ll be eligible to drive just by passing your standard driving test, others require specific instruction.

Driving licence codes are slightly different. They display what conditions you must meet to drive your car. For example, your driving licence will display a certain code if you need glasses or contact lenses to drive.

Other codes include whether you’re an organ donor or if your car needs certain modifications.

Read more: Can I drive someone else's car?

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Driving licence categories: What can I drive with a standard licence?

If you’ve passed your standard driving test, you’re allowed to drive the following vehicles:

AM – 2 or 3 wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of over 25 km/h, but no more than 45 km/h (28 mph)

It’s worth noting that drivers can no longer ride motor tricycles with a provisional licence.

B- If you passed your test before the 1st of January 1997

You’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg Maximum authorised mass - or MAM for short.

The MAM is basically the weight of a vehicle, or trailer, including the maximum load it can carry safely.

You can also drive a minibus and trailer over 750kg MAM.

B - If you passed your test on or after 1 January 1997

You can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with up to eight passenger seats. You can also tow a trailer of up to 750kg. You can tow heavier trailers, but the total mass mustn’t be more than 3,500kg.

If you’re over 21 you can drive motor tricycles with a power output higher than 15kW.

Physically disabled drivers with provisional category B entitlement will also be able to provisionally ride category A1 or A motor tricycles.

In April this year it was announced that drivers with a category B licence will be able to operate alternatively fuelled vans after 5 hours additional training.

Other vehicles you can drive with a standard licence

f- You’re qualified to drive a tractor if you have a standard driving licence.

k- A pedestrian-controlled vehicle or a mowing machine.

q – You can drive two-wheeled and three-wheeled vehicles without pedals with an engine size of no more than 50cc. The speed must be no more than 25km/h (15.5mph).

There are some minibuses you can drive with a standard licence. For more information visit the Gov website.

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Other driving licence categories

To be eligible to drive the following vehicles you must take a specific test.

Light vehicles and quad bikes

Category B1

This category includes motor vehicles with four wheels up to 400kg without goods, or 550kg with goods. This category is more common on older driving licences.

Other cars

Category B auto

Any vehicle in category B, but it’s automatic.

Category BE

You can drive a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg with a trailer.

The size of the trailer depends on when you got your driving licence, if the date is:

  • Before 19 January, 2013, you can tow any size trailer.

  • On or after 19 January, 2013 you can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500kg.

Read more: How can I get cheaper motorbike insurance?

 Motorbike

Mopeds

Category P 

This includes two-wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of over 45km/h (28mph) but less than 50km/h (31mph). The engine size must be lower than 50cc.

Motorcycles

Category A1

You can drive light motorbikes with an engine size up to 125cc and a power output of 11kW.

The power to weight ratio* must not be more than 0.1W/kg. This includes motor tricycles with power output up to 15kW.

*This relates to how quickly the bike accelerates, e.g. the less the bike weighs, the quicker it will accelerate.

Category A2

You can also drive bikes in category A1, as well as motorbikes with a power output up to 35kW. The power to weight ratio must be no more than 0.2W/kg.

Category A

You can drive everything in the previous categories, as well as motorbikes with a power output that’s more than 35kW – or a power to weight ratio more than 0.2kW/kg.

This category also includes motor tricycles with a power output more than 15kW.

Medium sized vehicles

Category C1

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

Category C1E

You can drive C1 category vehicles with a trailer over 750kg. The combined weight must not exceed 12,000kg though.

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Large vehicles

Category C

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

Category CE

This includes all the vehicles in category C with the addition of a trailer over 750kg.

Minibuses

Category D1

The vehicle shouldn’t have more than 16 passenger seats or be longer than eight metres. You can also tow a trailer of up to 750kg.

Category D1E

You can drive D1 category vehicles with a trailer of over 750kg MAM. The combined MAM of both can’t exceed 12,000 kg.

Buses

Category D

You can drive any bus with more than eight passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750kg MAM)

Category DE

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

Other categories

G – road roller

H – Tracked vehicle

L – electrically-propelled vehicle

M – Trolley vehicles

N – Exempt from duty

Read more: How to save on your van insurance

Car

What are driving licence codes?

Slightly different to categories, codes specify what conditions you must meet to drive your vehicle.

A full list of these codes can be found on the government website, but here are some examples:

01 – Eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses

02 – Hearing/communication aid

78 – Restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission

115 – Organ donor

119 – Weight limit for vehicle does not apply

Penalty codes

If you’ve committed an offence a code will stay on your driving licence for a number of years. This could be up to 11 years depending on the offence you’ve committed.

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