Can new drivers drive a van in the UK?

Written by Steve Cook

Published on

So, you’ve passed your test and you’re free to head out on the open road. But, as a new driver, you may be wondering whether you’re also qualified to drive a van.

In this article, we'll explore the current legislation for new drivers, including whether car insurance for young drivers covers you to operate a van in the UK.

Let’s go.

new driver in a van

What types of vehicles can new drivers drive?

If you've recently passed your driving test and got a full UK driving licence (category B), you can drive most conventional vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes.

Vans weighing more than that require a different type of licence.

Many popular vans fall within the 3.5-tonne limit, making them accessible to new drivers. Some examples include:

  1. Ford Transit
  2. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
  3. Renault Master
  4. Volkswagen Transporter
  5. Citroën Berlingo

These vans offer lots of space and versatility, making them suitable for a variety of purposes, such as moving house, transporting large items, or even heading out on a road trip.

Image of Volkswagen Transporter

Image taken from Volkswagen Transporter product page

Electric vans and new drivers

If you're interested in driving a more environmentally friendly vehicle, you'll be pleased to know that new drivers can also operate electric vans. In fact, the UK government has increased the weight limit for electric vans to 4.25 tonnes for category B licence holders.

This higher weight limit allows for the heavier batteries and components found in electric vehicles.

Age restrictions for driving vans

As a new driver, you can legally drive a van weighing up to 3.5 tonnes from the age of 17, as long as you’ve passed your driving test and received your full UK driving licence.

However, it's important to know that some van rental companies may have their own age restrictions, often requiring drivers to be at least 21 years old. So, always check with the rental company beforehand to make sure you meet their specific requirements.

Tips for new drivers driving vans

While driving a van shares some similarities with driving a car, there are a few key points to keep in mind:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the van's controls and features before setting off, as they may differ from what you're used to in a car.
  2. Adjust your mirrors properly, as vans often lack a rearview mirror.
  3. Be mindful of the van's size and weight when driving, especially in tight spaces or when parking.
  4. Stick to the speed limits specific to vans, which may differ from those for cars on certain roads.
  5. Make sure any cargo is securely loaded and evenly distributed to make the van safer and easier to handle.

Can new drivers drive a van for work purposes?

Yes, as long as the van weighs no more than 3.5 tonnes when fully loaded, and you have a full UK driving licence (category B), you can drive a van for work purposes. However, it's important to make sure you have the right van insurance for business use.

Are there any extra tests for new drivers to drive a van?

If you've passed your standard UK driving test and gained a full category B licence, you can drive most vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes without any additional tests.

Can new drivers tow a trailer with a van?

New rules introduced in 2022 allow drivers with a standard category B licence to tow a trailer weighing up to 3.5 tonnes when fully loaded, as long as the combined weight of the van and trailer does not exceed 7 tonnes.

Do new drivers need special insurance to drive a van?

While you don't need a special licence to drive most vans, you will need to make sure you have the right insurance cover. Let your insurer know that you'll be driving a van, including whether it's for personal or business use.

If you’ll be using the van for work or as part of your business, you’ll need a business van insurance policy.

What happens If I drive a van without proper insurance?

Driving a van without the right insurance can get you in serious trouble, including legal and financial penalties. New drivers caught driving without proper van insurance can face fines, points on their licence, and even have their vehicle seized. Also, if you’re involved in an accident, you may not be covered for any damages or injuries caused, meaning that you could be held liable.

So, always make sure you have the right insurance in place before heading out on the road.