Driving licence codes and categories are often overlooked details on our photocard licences. However, they are quite significant as they reveal a lot about the types of vehicles you are permitted to drive and the specific conditions required for driving them.
- The Back of a Driving Licence Explained
- What are the UK Driving Licence Codes?
- What are the UK Driving Licence Categories?
- What Can I Drive with a Standard UK Licence?
- Additional Vehicles You Can Drive with a Full UK Driving Licence
- What Other Driving Licence Categories are there?
- How can I Check what Categories of Vehicle I can Drive?
- What happens if I Drive a Vehicle I’m Not Entitled to?
- Frequently asked questions
It’s essential to understand these codes and categories to know your driving entitlements and limitations.
The Back of a Driving Licence Explained
The reverse side of your driving licence, be it a provisional or a full licence, contains crucial information regarding your driving entitlements. Here’s a detailed breakdown:
Driving Licence Categories (Column 9)
In Column 9, you will find the categories of vehicles you are authorised to drive. These categories are represented by letters or combinations of letters and numbers. Each category corresponds to a specific type of vehicle, such as motorcycles, cars, or larger vehicles.
Start Date of Entitlement (Column 10)
Column 10 indicates the start date from which you are legally allowed to drive the types of vehicles listed in Column 9. This date is significant as it marks when your entitlement for each vehicle category begins.
End Date of Entitlement (Column 11)
Column 11 details the expiry date of your entitlement to drive the listed vehicle categories. After this date, you are no longer legally permitted to drive those types of vehicles unless you renew or update your licence.
Driving Licence Codes (Column 12)
Column 12 features various driving licence codes. These codes are in a numerical format and represent specific conditions or restrictions related to your driving entitlement. For example, they may indicate if you need glasses for driving or if there are restrictions due to medical conditions.
It’s important to note that if any category in Column 9 has lines instead of dates, it means you are not entitled to drive that category of vehicle. These restrictions are legally binding, and it’s essential to adhere to them to avoid penalties or legal issues.
By understanding these details, you can ensure that you are driving within your legal entitlements and are aware of any restrictions or conditions that apply to you.
What are the UK Driving Licence Codes?
UK driving licence codes, primarily found in Column 12 of your licence, play a crucial role in defining the conditions and restrictions under which you are legally permitted to drive. These codes are specifically tailored to individual driving needs and circumstances.
Common Driving Licence Codes
Eyesight and Hearing Requirements
- 01 – Eyesight Correction: Indicates that you must wear glasses or contact lenses while driving.
- 02 – Hearing/Communication Aid: You need to use a hearing or communication aid when driving.
- 10 – Modified Transmission: Your vehicle must have a modified transmission.
- 31 – Pedal Adaptations and Pedal Safeguards: Requires specific adaptations related to vehicle pedals.
- 40 – Modified Steering: Indicates a need for steering wheel modifications.
- 45 – Motorbikes with Sidecar: Restricts you to driving motorbikes that are equipped with a sidecar.
- 78 – Automatic Transmission: Limits you to driving vehicles with automatic transmission only.
- 101 – Not for Hire or Reward: You cannot use the vehicle for commercial purposes or to make a profit.
- 111 – Limited to 16 Passenger Seats: Restricts you to vehicles that can carry a maximum of 16 passengers.
- 115 – Organ Donor: Indicates that you have opted to be an organ donor.
- 119 – Weight Limit Exemption: The standard weight limit for the vehicle does not apply to you.
Where to Find Complete Information
For a comprehensive list of all DVLA licence codes, it’s advisable to visit the GOV.UK website. This resource provides detailed explanations of each code and the specific conditions they imply.
Understanding these codes is essential for ensuring that you meet all legal requirements for driving in the UK. They are not just formalities; they are designed to promote safety and compliance with road laws tailored to individual needs and capabilities.
What are the UK Driving Licence Categories?
The UK driving licence categories are crucial for determining the types of vehicles you are authorised to operate. These categories are listed in Column 9 of your driving licence and are denoted by various letters and numbers, each representing a specific class of vehicle.
Overview of Licence Categories
Identification of Categories
In Column 9, alongside each category (like B, C1, etc.), you may notice small images representing different types of vehicles. These symbols, along with the category codes, help you quickly identify the vehicle class you are permitted to drive.
Validity and Entitlement
If there are start and end dates next to a category, it means you are entitled to drive that type of vehicle as long as your licence is valid within those dates. It’s important to ensure that your licence is up-to-date to avoid any legal issues.
Range of Vehicle Types
There are 26 distinct driving licence categories in the UK, encompassing a wide range of vehicles. This variety includes everything from mopeds and motorcycles to cars, lorries, and buses. Each category has specific requirements and regulations, making it essential to understand which categories apply to you.
Regional Differences in Northern Ireland
If you reside in Northern Ireland, be aware that the driving licence categories may differ from those in the rest of the UK. To stay informed about the latest rules and categories applicable in Northern Ireland, it is recommended to consult nidirect, the official government website for Northern Ireland residents.
Understanding your driving licence categories is vital for legal and safe driving. It ensures that you are driving vehicles that you are qualified and authorised to operate, thereby promoting road safety and compliance with traffic laws.
What Can I Drive with a Standard UK Licence?
Holding a standard UK driving licence provides you with the qualification to drive a range of vehicles, depending on when you passed your driving test. The licence categories determine the types of vehicles you can operate.
Key Driving Licence Categories
- Two or Three-Wheeled Vehicles: This includes mopeds and scooters with a speed range of 25km/h (15.5mph) to 45km/h (28mph).
- Light Quad Bikes: Also covered under this category.
Category B (Cars and Light Vehicles)
- Before 1 January 1997: If you passed your test before this date, you can drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg. This is suitable for cars towing caravans or similar loads.
- Minibus Driving: Also permitted under this category for tests passed before 1997.
- After 1 January 1997: If you passed your test on or after this date, you are limited to vehicles up to 3,500kg with up to eight passenger seats. You can tow trailers up to 750kg, or heavier trailers provided the total weight of the vehicle and trailer doesn’t exceed 3,500kg.
Category B Auto or B with Restriction Code 78
- Automatic Vehicles Only: If your licence falls under this category, you’re limited to driving automatic vehicles within the Category B range. You cannot legally operate a manual vehicle under this category.
Special Note for Holders of Older Licences
- Green Paper Licences: If you possess an old green paper licence, it might display Category A. However, since the categories were revised in 2013, this is now broadly equivalent to what is currently known as Category B. The back of your licence should provide more details about your specific entitlements.
Comparing Old and New Categories
For a comprehensive understanding and comparison of old and new driving licence categories, visiting the GOV.UK website is recommended. This resource offers detailed information, helping you to stay informed about your driving entitlements and any changes that might affect them.
It’s crucial to know which categories you are qualified to drive in to ensure compliance with traffic laws and to maintain road safety.
Additional Vehicles You Can Drive with a Full UK Driving Licence
Apart from the standard vehicle categories, a full UK driving licence grants you the authority to operate a variety of other specialised vehicles. These are indicated by lower-case italic letters at the bottom of your photocard licence.
Specialised Vehicle Categories
Tractors (Category f)
- Agricultural or Forestry Tractors: A standard Category B licence allows you to drive a tractor primarily used for agricultural or forestry purposes.
Pedestrian-Controlled Vehicles (Category k)
- Mowing Machines: Includes various types of pedestrian-controlled mowing machines.
- Other Pedestrian-Controlled Vehicles: This category covers vehicles that are controlled while walking behind them, such as certain types of motorised maintenance equipment.
Electrically-Propelled Vehicles (Category l)
- Milk Floats and Similar Vehicles: Mainly applicable to older licences, this category includes electric vehicles like milk floats, commonly used for deliveries.
Small Two and Three-Wheeled Vehicles (Category q)
- Engine Size up to 50cc: This covers two and three-wheeled vehicles without pedals and with an engine size not exceeding 50cc.
- Trial E-Scooters: Also includes trial e-scooters, which are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas.
No Licence Required for Certain Vehicles
Electric Bikes, Mobility Scooters, and Powered Wheelchairs
- It’s interesting to note that you do not require a driving licence to operate electric bikes, mobility scooters, or powered wheelchairs. These vehicles are designed for accessibility and ease of use, and thus are exempt from the standard licensing requirements.
Understanding the full extent of your driving privileges is essential, especially when it involves less common vehicle types. While these categories might not be applicable to everyday driving, they do provide additional flexibility and opportunities for those who hold a full UK driving licence.
What Other Driving Licence Categories are there?
The UK driving licence system encompasses a variety of categories, each tailored to specific vehicle types. Depending on the vehicle you wish to drive, you might need a different type of licence and possibly additional testing.
While older licences may cover a broader range of vehicles, it’s often advisable to undergo training for safety, regardless of legal requirements.
Mopeds and Motorcycles
Category A1 Licence
- Light Motorbikes: Allows you to drive bikes with up to 125cc engine size and 11kW power output.
Category A2 Licence
- Medium Motorbikes: Permits driving motorbikes with a power output up to 35kW and a power-to-weight ratio of no more than 0.2kW/kg. Also includes vehicles in A1.
Category A Licence
- Full Motorcycle Licence: Enables you to ride motorbikes with a power output of more than 35kW, along with bikes in categories A1 and A2.
Cars and Light Vehicles
Category B1 Licence
- Light Motor Vehicles: Covers four-wheeled vehicles up to 400kg (unladen) or 550kg (laden). More common in older licences.
Category BE Licence
- Vehicles with Trailers: The specifics of the trailer you can tow depend on when you received your licence. Before 19 January 2013 allows for towing any size trailer, whereas licences issued on or after this date are limited to trailers up to 3,500kg.
Vans and Commercial Vehicles
Category C1 Licence
- Medium-Sized Vehicles: For driving vehicles between 3,500kg and 7,500kg, like large vans and ambulances, with a permissible trailer of up to 750kg.
Category C Licence
- Heavy Goods Vehicles: Lets you drive vehicles over 3,500kg with a trailer up to 750kg.
Minibuses and Coaches
Category D1 Licence
- Minibuses: Permits driving minibuses with up to 16 passenger seats or a maximum length of eight metres, plus a trailer up to 750kg.
Category D Licence
- Buses and Coaches: Authorises you to drive any bus or coach with more than eight passenger seats, with a permissible trailer less than 750kg.
For a comprehensive understanding of all driving licence categories, it’s recommended to visit the government’s website. This resource offers detailed information about each category, helping you to determine which licence you need for different types of vehicles.
How can I Check what Categories of Vehicle I can Drive?
To ascertain the specific vehicle categories you are authorised to drive, it’s important to know how to access and interpret the information on your driving licence.
Understanding Your Photocard Licence
Back of the Driving Licence
- The reverse side of your photocard driving licence clearly outlines the vehicle categories you are permitted to drive. Each category is represented by a letter or a combination of letters and numbers, accompanied by validity dates where applicable.
Online Verification through GOV.UK
Required Personal Details
- To use the online service, you need your driving licence number, your National Insurance (NI) number, and your postcode. These details are essential for accessing your specific driving entitlements.
GOV.UK Licence Checker
- The GOV.UK website hosts a licence-checking tool that provides a detailed breakdown of the vehicle categories your licence entitles you to drive. This tool is especially useful for a more comprehensive understanding beyond the basic information on your licence.
Sharing Licence Information
- An added feature of this online tool is the ability to share your driving licence information. This is particularly helpful when you need to provide proof of your driving entitlements to potential employers, car rental agencies, or other relevant parties.
Why Check Your Licence Categories?
- Legal Compliance: Knowing the categories you are authorised to drive ensures you comply with legal requirements and avoid penalties.
- Employment and Rental Requirements: For jobs requiring driving or when renting vehicles, knowing your categories is essential for meeting the criteria set by employers or rental companies.
- Personal Awareness: Understanding your driving entitlements helps you make informed decisions about the types of vehicles you can legally operate, whether for personal use or professional purposes.
Regularly checking your driving licence categories, especially after any updates or renewals, is a good practice to ensure that you are always aware of your current driving entitlements.
What happens if I Drive a Vehicle I’m Not Entitled to?
Driving a vehicle that you’re not legally entitled to, as per the categories and codes on your driving licence, can lead to serious consequences. It’s crucial to understand these to ensure you always comply with the law.
Fines and Points on Licence
- If caught driving a vehicle outside your licence categories, you could face financial penalties in the form of fines. Additionally, you might receive penalty points on your licence. Accumulating points can lead to increased insurance premiums and, in severe cases, the suspension of your driving licence.
Invalidated Car Insurance
- Driving a vehicle you’re not entitled to can render your car insurance policy invalid. This means that in the event of an accident, your insurance company may refuse to cover any damages or liabilities. This could lead to significant financial burdens if you have to pay for damages or compensation out of your own pocket.
Risk to Yourself and Others
- Driving a vehicle you’re not qualified for can increase the risk of accidents, posing a threat not only to your safety but also to the safety of other road users and pedestrians. This is particularly pertinent for larger or specialised vehicles that require specific training and skills to operate safely.
Legal Obligation to Ensure Compliance
- As a driver, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you are only operating vehicles that you are legally entitled to drive, as per your licence categories. It’s advisable to regularly check your driving licence and stay informed about any changes in driving regulations that may affect your entitlements.
Understanding and adhering to the categories and codes on your driving licence is not only a legal requirement but also a crucial aspect of responsible driving. It ensures not only your compliance with the law but also the safety and well-being of everyone on the road.
Frequently asked questions
Your driver number is a distinctive 16-character code specific to you, featured on your photocard driving licence. This unique combination of letters and numbers is composed of several elements related to your personal information:
- First Five Letters of Your Surname: If your surname is shorter than five letters, the remaining spaces are filled with the number 9.
- Date of Birth: However, this is not in the usual order you might expect.
- Forename Initials: The initial letters of your first names.
- Random Security Numbers: These are included as an added measure of security.
You can locate your driver number on the front of your photocard driving licence. It’s an important identifier used in various administrative and legal processes related to driving and vehicle ownership.
A driving licence in the UK is not just a permit to drive but also serves as a valid form of identification. It contains several key pieces of personal information, distributed across the front and back of the photocard.
Front of the Photocard
- Full Name and Image: Your legal name and a current photograph for identification.
- Date of Birth: Essential for verifying your age.
- Address: Your current home address.
- Signature: Your personal signature.
- Driver Number: A unique identifier specific to each driver.
- Licence Issue Date: The date when the licence was issued to you.
Back of the Photocard
- Codes and Categories: These indicate the types of vehicles you are legally permitted to drive and any conditions or restrictions that apply to your driving entitlement.
Your driving licence acts as a comprehensive identity document and is crucial for various legal and administrative purposes, including vehicle registration, insurance, and traffic law enforcement.
If your current driving licence is restricted to automatic cars and you wish to drive a manual vehicle, you can upgrade it by passing a practical driving test in a manual car. Here’s how you can go about this process:
Start Learning Anytime: You are free to begin learning to drive a manual car whenever you choose. There’s no requirement to apply for another provisional licence if you already hold one for automatic cars.
No New Theory Test Required: Since you’ve already passed the theory test for your automatic licence, there’s no need to retake it for the manual upgrade.
Booking the Practical Driving Test: To take the practical test for a manual licence, you need to book it by phone with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Note that you cannot book this test online.
Successfully passing this test will update your licence, allowing you to legally drive both manual and automatic vehicles.
To drive a vehicle in a different category than what your current driving licence permits, you will need to follow a set process:
Provisional Entitlement: Firstly, obtain a provisional entitlement for the new vehicle category. For instance, if you hold a car driving licence and wish to drive a lorry or bus, you should apply for a provisional licence for these categories.
Take Lessons: You’ll need to undergo driving lessons specific to the new vehicle category. These lessons are crucial for learning the skills and regulations associated with different types of vehicles.
Undergo a Driving Test: After completing your lessons, you must take and pass a driving test for the new category of vehicle.
Additional Benefits of Passing Higher Category Tests
- Automatic Entitlement for Lower Categories: Passing a driving test in a higher category can sometimes automatically qualify you to drive vehicles in lower categories. For example, if you pass the Category A motorbike test, you will also be eligible to ride mopeds and scooters.
Updating Your Licence
- Informing the DVLA: To add new entitlements to your licence, you should email the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) with your full name, date of birth, and licence number.
For more detailed information on how to add categories to your driving licence, visit the GOV.UK website. This resource provides comprehensive guidance on the process, requirements, and relevant forms.