What motorhomes does your licence allow you to drive?


Before we can be sure of what we can drive we need to understand some terms that refer to the weight of the motorhome, it is the weight that depicts what license we need.

GVW – Gross Vehicle Weight as marked on the vehicles VIN plate.  The most familiar term to most people over 40.  This figure is the full up weight of the vehicle including fuel and everything the motorhome is carrying. These days GVM is little used so you need to be familiar with a couple more acronym; MAM and MTPLM

MAM = Maximum Authorised Mass

MTPLM = Maximum Technically Permitted Laden Mass

What can you drive on a regular Driving licence? This has been a bit confusing since we try to  standardise driving licence entitlements across Europe.

The generally accepted argument is one that agrees with the DVLA’s interpretation of the law, in that, if your motorhome is over 3.5 tonnes MAM but does not exceed 7.5 tonnes  you will need to hold a driving licence that includes category C1 entitlement. If you passed your car test before  the 1st jan 1997 you should already have C1 on your licence. If your licence does not include category C1 you may not drive a motorhome that exceeds 3.5 tons.

If your motorhome exceeds 7.5 tonnes you will need a Category C (HGV licence).

There is an argument that has been raging for many years if goes like this. Because a “Motohome” is not a “Heavy Goods Vehicle” then you do not need to have a Category C (HGV) licence.    Hundreds of people admit to driving large American RV without having Class C entitlement.  They argue their insurers know, and are quick to point out that no one has yet been prosecuted for driving a large motorhome even when they have been stopped for other offences.

The best advice I can give is you want to drive a vehicle over 7.5 tonnes then “take your test and get your entitlement” To have an insurance company refuse to pay because of this could be devastating, you might have to take them to court to prove that you do have the right to drive such a large motorhome and that could be difficult and costly.   Also, it just makes sense. Going from a small car to a 10 ton motorhome with no training is plain silly.

Driving a large American RV on a car driving license

A number of RV owners drive large motorhomes like this on a car licence!

Motorhome Drivers and Medicals

Drivers who passed their test before 1January 1st 1997 and who want to who keep their category C1 entitlement when they renewing will need to have a medical.

If you are lucky enough to still be driving a motorhome aged 70 then it must be under 3500kg otherwise medicals will be required. Those over 70 or over that want to drive a large motorhome heavier than 3500kg but under 7501kg will need medical checkups every three years. This may well change so do keep an eye on the DVLA website.

Motorhomes and Driver Licences

For extra payload some might "Up-plate" or if you are over 70 you might want to "Down-plate" to below 3500kg

Many motorhomers who reach 70 with motorhomes over 3500kg are able to “downplate” their motorhomes, that means have the MAM officially lowered enabling them to continue driving the same motorhome.  They will lose some payload and may pay more road tax., but if you failed the medical this may be your only option. Down-plating is something you can do yourself but many choose to use SVTech to carry out this paper exercise for them



About Author

Jim is a long time motorhome enthusiast travelling extensively in the UK and Europe. Averaging 12000 motorhome miles a year. He has owned many motorhomes both British and Continental. His present motorhome is a 27ft C class RV.


  1. Drew williams on

    I passed my test in 2006 I’m 23 years of age my dad owns a motorhome weighing 3.7 tonnes will I be able to drive this on a normal license or pay £1000 for my HGV license??

  2. Drew
    You will need to pass a test for group C1 to be qualified to drive above 3.5t and but below 7.5t, so no unless youve passed already, you cant legally drive a vehicle weighing 3.7t

  3. I have a category D license which mean I can drive a double decker bus with 80 people on.

    However I cant drive a motorhome with me and my wife in. Bloody ridiculous.

  4. I understand that the weight restriction to drive an rv on a car license in the states starts at a lot higher weight than in the uk(Americans don’t do small) So would a restricted lisence of no more than 3.5 tonnes UK be acceptable in the states as their Max limit which is a lot higher (around 11 tonnes).
    Anyone experienced this?

  5. Maybe its me but I find it a little confusing, due to a medical condition I can only drive up to 3500kg, is that unladen, no people in it, no water no luggage. Or is it 3500kg nett and then extras can be added?

  6. I took 3 months to challenge DVLA over requiring an HGV licence to drive a special category M1 motorhome and constantly asked them to evidence the relevant Acts of Parliament. They were unable to provide any evidence at all. I was able to provide detail that shows that AT THE TIME I TOOK MY TEST you could drive a motorhome. Get the latest documentation on the European licence, in effect 12 April 2012 and it states you can drive what you could when you took your test.
    I also have a letter from the Police stating I can drive my RV – 20tons on my car licence.
    Note – You MUST not carry goods. Any internal fittings used when vehicle is stationary do not qualify as goods.

  7. I add a further point – If we follow the logic provided then all busses and coaches will require an HGV licence in addition to a PSV licence.
    The argument is nonsense.

  8. Lorraine House on

    Hi Jane this is excellent news, what year did you pass your test? My husband passed his test in 1983 but I can’t find any old documentation to show what was on the licences then to check to see if he had it as we’ll.


  9. Approaching 70 years, I am fully aware of the regulations but no one seems to advertise how heavy these vehicles are. Which motorhomes can one drive without bothering to continue the C and D licence entitlements.

  10. Pingback: When do I need an HGV? - Page 2

  11. alan skinner on

    I am 71 and had to renew my license recently, I wished to purchase a motorhome to enable my wife and I to tour but find that the category C1 has been removed from my license which means that I can not drive one over 3500kgs, bloody cheek!

  12. i have the same issue only a 3500kg van or any bus with any amount of passengers. lol

  13. Does payload include luggage and passengers? Also is there a restriction on how many passengers you can carry. I passed my test around 1990

  14. So, for example I see a motorhome which has a unladen weight of 3000kg and a fully laden weight of 3700kg. I have B1 entitlement on my car licence, passed my test in 2001. So, where do I stand, can I drive the motorhome loaded up to 3500kg?

  15. Richard fuller on

    I have been told by my Dr that I need a full medical for the c d licence at 70 , is this really necessary as they have my medical records. Particularly as they charge over £175 for it?.

  16. David Archer on

    I have the original paper licence from 1979
    It includes

    “B” Car
    “C1” Lorries between 3,500kg and 7,500kg
    “D1+(1) Buses between 9 and 16 passengers (1)=”not for hire or reward”
    “B+E” Cars or light vans up to 9 seats and up to 3,500kg towing a trailer over 750kg.
    “C1+E+(7)” Lorries between 3.500kg and 7.500kg towing a trailer over 750kg total weight (7)= “not more than 8.250kg”.
    “D1+E+(1)” Buses between 9 and 16 passengers seats towing a trailer over 750kg (1)=”not for hire or reward”

    F = agricultural vehicles
    K = mowers / pedestrian controlled vehicle
    L = Electrically powered vehicles

    N = duty exempt vehicles
    P = mopeds

    I hope this helps Dave

  17. Hi I have an rv that is 7.5tons that is mot,ed and taxed class 4 which is the same as a car so why can’t I drive it as a car

  18. I have been told I cannot drive a 5 tonne 35 year old motorhome without an hgv licence because I did not pass my driving test before 1988. Is this correct

  19. It is upto you to request that the entitlements are continued and submit a medical, otherwise they are automatically removed

  20. If you passed your test in 1990, you can drive a Motorhome upto 3500kg MAM. Yes payload includes luggage and passengers. On a Cat B Licence you can carry upto 8 passengers

  21. Heather Armstrong on

    This is great news for my husband who is 76 We’ve not been able to use our motorhome since September when we realised C1 had been removed from his licence. How do we get the information you are referring to please?

  22. Hi i passed my test in holland in 1995 and changed it to uk licence in 2005 when i moved to the uk without doing another test in the uk. Just renew the licence and found i have b cat on it not c1. So i cant drive more than 3500 kg like before .

  23. Ok ok this is ridiculous and dvla don’t seem to know what there doing.. I passed my car test in 2000, I hold a cat D licence and I also drive a van upto 7.5 ton and have to use a techo to drive it so why would the dvla issue me with it if I couldn’t drive upto 7.5 ton.. oh and it for the NHS. I me looking to buy a converted bus that is over 3.5 ton but under 7.5 and it looks like I can’t drive it without a C1 licence apperantly..

  24. My point being how come I can drive a fully loaded double decker bus way over 7.5 ton but can’t drive a converted bus less then 7.5 ton.
    If I convert back into a bus and its weight is over 7.5 then it’s ok again?? Crazy

  25. Paul Valentine on

    you can drive a motorhome on a PSV licence however under DVLA speculation you have to have a maximum of 8 passanger seats with seat belts and as in a service bus/ Coach seats. I only know this because when I used to drive executive coach’s the company I worked for refitted a coach with a new interior we took all the old seats out and I was to drive it to the fitters place, However the DVLA would not let me drive it with no seats in because once you remove the seats it becomes an HGV vehicle, however they said under a strict ruling of a VOSA test (which didn’t have to be done because the company had it’s own mechanics and licenced PSV TEST driver) if you put 8 seats back in correctly mounted and fitted it would become a PSV vehicle again. And the MAM of a vehicle the ULW = Unladden Vehicle Weight no passangers or luggage each 15 passangers and luggage is weighed at one tonne but it doesn’t matter because its measured on unladden weight. Hope this helps.

  26. i passed my test in 1961. after previously passing a MOTORCYCLE TEST i n EAST HAM in the 1950s. I also have held a H.G.V. 3 LICENCE. us old codgers have done it all. happy motoring. EYESIRE

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