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Driving licence categories and codes

What do those random numbers and letters on your DVLA driving licence mean? Owning a car is hard enough - having to sort car insurance, tax and maintenance, without the extra headache of working out your licence entitlement. So let's look at what all the codes and categories on your driving licence actually do, and what you could be entitled to drive.

Driving licence categories and codes

What do the categories and codes on my driving licence mean?

It’s important that you know what you're allowed to drive, along with any restrictions you might have to follow.

This information is on your UK driving licence, so check it if you’re not sure.

Alongside the number ‘9’, right at the bottom of your driving licence, is a row of capital letters and numbers, each separated by a slash. 

These are the codes that relate to you. They show what vehicles you can legally drive on public roads, and any relevant vehicle weight restrictions. 

For example, category B on your driving licence allows you to ride motor tricycles with a power output of more than 15kW. This is as long as you're over 21.

On the back of your driving licence, there are columns numbered between 9 and 12.

The column marked ‘9’ refers to the types of vehicles you can drive, while ‘10’ and ‘11’ list the start and expiry dates of your licence for the various categories of vehicle.

The column marked ‘12’ lists driving licence codes. They’re presented in this form because if you wrote out what each letter and number meant in full, your driving licence would be a book, not a card.


Driving licence categories: What can I drive on a normal car licence?

You have an entitlement to drive certain vehicles as soon as you get a full driving licence.

These are:

  • Category A1 – Light motorcycles with an engine of up to 125cc.
  • Category AM – two-wheeled or 3-wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of more than 15.5mph, but not more than 28mph.
  • This category also includes light quad bikes with an unladen mass of not more than 350kg, not including batteries. They also have a maximum speed of over 15.5mph, but not more than 28mph.
  • Category B – There are two definitions of B, depending on when you passed your test.

You can drive a four-wheel vehicle and trailer combination with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 8,250kg if you passed before 1 January 1997. You can also drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.

If you passed your driving test on or after January 1997 you can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM, with up to eight passenger seats, plus a trailer up to 750kg.

You can also tow heavier trailers if the vehicle and trailer MAM is not more than 3.500kg. 

With a code B driving licence you’re allowed to ride motor tricycles with a power output higher than 15kW, providing you’re over 21 years old. 

If you have a physical disability with provisional category B entitlement, you also have provisional entitlement to ride Category A1 or A motor tricycles.


What other vehicles can I drive with a standard UK driving licence?

Your driving licence should  feature a few italic lower-case letters after the big bold ones mentioned above. These indicate further entitlements. Typically, you might see:

  • f – You’re qualified to drive a tractor.
  • k – You can drive a pedestrian-controlled vehicle or a mowing machine.
  • q – You can drive two- and three-wheeled vehicles without pedals with an engine size of no more than 50cc. The top speed can’t be more than 15.5mph.

This isn’t the full list, especially if you passed your test before 1997. If your licence includes other category entitlements, check out the government’s driving licence website to find out what you can do.


Are there any other driving licence categories?

Once you’ve got a full driving licence, you might want to upgrade your entitlement so you can drive other vehicles for work or leisure.

For example, if you want to drive a bus, coach or lorry for a living, you need a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to get a Category C entitlement.

Here are a few of the more common other categories you might need to take extra tests on to secure an additional entitlement:

  • Category A1 A light motorbike with an engine size of up to 125cc and a power output of 11kW.
  • Category B auto – Any automatic transmission vehicle in Category B, which covers four-wheeled vehicles up to 400kg unladen or 550kg if designed for carrying goods.
  • Category C – You can drive vehicles over 3,500kg, with a trailer up to 750kg MAM.
  • Category CE – You can drive category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
  • Category D1 – Category D covers minibuses. with D1 entitling you to drive vehicles up to eight metres long, no more than 16 passenger seats, plus a trailer of up to 750kg. D1E allows you to haul a trailer of more than 750kg. 
  • h – Tracked vehicles.
  • l – Electrically-propelled vehicle.
  • m – Trolley vehicles.


What are the codes on my driving licence?

Driving licence codes stipulate what conditions you must meet before you can get behind the wheel.

There are more than 50 driving licence codes. Some of the common ones include ‘01’, which relates to eyesight, and ‘02’, which is to do with hearing aids.

There are also codes that relate to vehicle modifications.


Full list of driving licence codes

Driving licence code Meaning
"Eyesight correction, e.g. glasses or contact lenses"
Hearing/communication aid
Modified transmission
Modified clutch
Modified braking systems
Modified accelerator systems
Combined braking and accelerator systems (pre 28 november 2016)
Pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards
Combined service brake and accelerator systems
"Combined service brake, accelerator and steering systems"
Modified control layouts
Modified steering
Modified rear
Modified driving seats
Modifications to motorbikes
44 (1)
Single operated brake
44 (2)
Adapted front wheel brake
44 (3)
Adapted rear wheel brake
44 (4)
Adapted accelerator
44 (5)
(adjusted) manual transmission and manual clutch
44 (6)
(adjusted) rear
44 (7)
"(adjusted) commands (direction indicators, braking light, etc)"
44 (8)
Adjusted seat height allowing the driver to balance the motorbike while having two feet on the surface
44 (11)
Adapted foot rest
44 (12)
Adapted hand grip
Motorbikes only with sidecar
Tricycles only (pre 29 june 2014)
Exchange of licence
Duplicate of licence
Restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission
Restricted to vehicles in conformity with the specifications stated in brackets on your licence
79 (2)
Restricted to category am vehicles of the 3
79 (3)
Restricted to tricycles
"Allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer whose combined weight is between 3,500kg and 4,250kg"
Not allowed to drive category c1 vehicles which are required to have a tachograph fitted
"Not for hire or reward (that is, not to make a profit)"
Drawbar trailers only
Subject to certificate of competence
Vehicle not more than 5.5 metres long
Restricted to vehicles with automatic transmissions
"Not more than 8,250 kilograms"
Subject to minimum age requirements
Limited to transporting persons with restricted mobility
Limited to 16 passenger seats
Limited to 16 passenger seats except for automatics
With any special controls required for safe driving
Organ donor
Start date is for earliest entitlement
Weight limit for vehicle does not apply
Restricted to conditions specified in the secretary of state’s notice
Valid on successful completion: basic moped training course.
Tricycles only (pre 29 june 2014)


What are the driving licence penalty codes?

If you’ve committed a driving-related offence you could be given an endorsement, or penalty points. 

These are added to your driving licence and remain there until they expire. This could be for either four or 11 years, during which time you must declare them when buying car insurance. This may push up your insurance costs, though. 

Here’s a selection of motoring conviction codes:

  • AC10 – Failing to stop after an accident: 5 to 10 penalty points
  • BA10 – Driving while disqualified by order for court: 6 penalty points
  • CD10 – Driving without due care and attention: 3 to 9 penalty points
  • DD10 – Causing serious injury by dangerous driving: 3 to 11 penalty points

For more on this, visit our guide on motoring conviction codes.

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Are provisional driving licence codes different?

The codes on a provisional driving licence are the same, so make sure you know what they mean before you get behind the wheel.

It should be part of your overall knowledge of the rules regarding driving on a provisional licence.

In particular, it's important to make sure you know what you can drive on a provisional licence.