Driving a van
Find out if you can drive a van, the speed limits and weight limits that apply, and rules on loading, drivers' hours and maintenance.
Check if you can drive a van
You can drive vans up to 3,500kg if you have a standard car driving licence.
View your driving licence information to check what types of vehicles you can drive.
If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997
You might need to take extra tests before you can:
- drive vehicles weighing 3,500kg and 7,500kg
- tow a trailer with your van
Find out how to add higher categories to your driving licence.
You can be fined up to £1,000 and get 3 to 6 penalty points for driving without the right licence.
Tax, MOT and insure your van
Your van must be taxed if you’re driving it on public roads.
You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving without vehicle tax.
You need to get an MOT for your van every year when it reaches 3 years old.
For the MOT, your van will be classed as either:
- class 4 if it’s up to 3,000kg design gross weight (this include car-type vans)
- class 7 if it’s over 3,000kg up to 3,500kg design gross weight
Check the maximum you can be charged in the MOT fees table.
You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving without a valid MOT.
You must have vehicle insurance to drive a van.
Check the level of cover you need and tell your insurance company whether your van is for social or business use, as this will affect your policy.
You can get an unlimited fine and 6 to 8 penalty points for driving without insurance.
Vans have lower speed limits than cars and car-type vans.
|Type of van||Built up area*||Single carriageway||Dual carriageway||Motorway|
|Van||30 mph||50 mph||60 mph||70 mph|
|Car-type van||30 mph||60 mph||70 mph||70 mph|
|Van and trailer||30 mph||50 mph||60 mph||60 mph|
*The 30 mph limit usually applies to all traffic on all roads with street lighting unless signs show otherwise.
You can be fined up to £1,000 (£2,500 for motorway offences) and get 3 to 6 penalty points for speeding.
Weight limits and loading
Your van has a ‘design gross weight’. This is the maximum weight it can weigh when it’s loaded.
It’s sometimes called the ‘gross vehicle weight’ or ‘laden weight’.
This weight limit is on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate in your van.
The design gross weight is the total combined weight of the:
- driver and passengers
Check your van’s weight at a local weighbridge.
Your van’s performance and safety will be affected if you overload it or its individual axles.
You can be fined up to £300 or get a court summons if your van exceeds its maximum permitted axle weight.
Watch a video about how to load your van.
Secure your goods
Some vans don’t have a bulkhead. In the event of an accident, the contents of your cargo area could end up in the cab if they aren’t secured properly.
Load your goods evenly throughout the cargo area, with the heaviest items at the bottom. Don’t overload the individual axles.
Use appropriate restraints to secure your load, like netting and straps.
How long you can drive for
You must follow the rules on how many hours you can drive and the breaks that you need to take.
The rules that apply to goods vehicles depend on:
- the weight of your van
- the country you’re driving in
- what you’re using the van for
In the UK
If you drive a van for business for more than 4 hours a day, you must follow the Great Britain domestic rules on drivers’ hours.
They outline your working hours and the rest periods you must take.
You can be fined up to £300 for exceeding daily driving limits.
Outside the UK
If you travel outside of the UK, you need to follow the domestic rules for the countries you’re visiting. Get this information from the relevant embassies.
You must follow the EU rules if you’re towing a trailer and the combined design gross weight is above 3.5 tonnes, but there are exemptions.
Yellow vertical lines on the kerb show where you’re not allowed to load, or if any restrictions apply. Any restrictions will be displayed on a plated sign.
Some roads have loading bay facilities. These will be shown as a white box marked ‘loading’ and a plated sign to give details of any specific restrictions.
You must keep your van safe to drive. The walkaround checklist shows simple safety checks you can do.
You can be fined up to £2,500 and get 3 penalty points for using a van in a dangerous condition.
Tow a trailer
Check your driving licence information to make sure you’re allowed to tow a trailer.
You must follow EU rules If your combined van and trailer weight (sometimes called the ‘gross train weight’) is above 3.5 tonnes - but there are some of exemptions.
- affect the number of hours you can drive
- require you to record your hours using a tachograph
You must have a goods vehicle operator’s licence if your van and trailer combination is either:
- above 3.5 tonnes
- the total weight (without you and your load) is heavier than 1.525 tonnes.
You won’t need an operator’s licence if both:
- the weight of your trailer without its load is less than 1.020 tonnes
- you only carry your own goods
Towing a trailer reduces the speed you’re allowed to travel at.
Roadside checks for commercial vehicle drivers
You can be asked to stop by the police or a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) officer.
They have the power to carry out spot checks on your van and issue prohibitions if necessary. A prohibition prevents you from driving until you get a problem with your van fixed.
Police and DVSA officers can also issue fixed penalties if you commit an offence.
Find out about roadside vehicle checks for commercial drivers.
Being self-employed or employing other drivers
By law, employers and self-employed people must:
- assess the risks to anyone who might be affected by their work activity
- take appropriate preventive and protective steps to control these risks
You’re responsible for making sure:
- the van is safe to drive
- your drivers are suitably trained, aware of road traffic law, and follow The Highway Code
Your company could be liable if an employee is killed or injured during their working hours.
Read about running a fleet of vans.
Find out more about your management responsibilities for workplace transport.