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Van hire is relatively common in the UK when people want to move house or transport cargo that will not necessarily fit in the back of a car. Unfortunately, many people are confused about driving licence requirements for van hire. They just assume they can hire any van as long as they have a full Category B licence. This is not true. The kind of licence required to drive a van legally does not change when you are hiring as opposed to being an owner. Licence requirements are the same across the board.


In the UK, licence categories are determined primarily by the weight of vehicles in a given class. What is widely misunderstood is that vans are vehicles that cover multiple licence classes depending on weight. There are also different requirements for drivers who operate vans professionally or for hire, as opposed to those who just want to rent a van to move house.

The rest of the information in this guide is intended for non-professional drivers who simply want to hire a van for one reason or another. If you are interested in driving a van professionally, different information may apply in your case. You can always contact the HGVT Training Services (HGV Training Centre) for more information about your situation.

Van Driving Licence Requirements

Vans with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg can be driven legally on a standard Category B licence as long as trailers are not used with them. Operating heavier vans or towing a trailer requires additional entitlements for all drivers except those who obtained their Category B licence prior to 1 January 1997.

Drivers in that pre-1997 category have acquired rights that allow them to operate vehicles classified under the Cat B, Cat B+E, and Cat C1 categories. They are eligible to hire almost any van without any additional licence entitlement. For everyone else, additional entitlements are required. The most common licence for van hire is the DVLA certified Category C1.

This category licence allows people to operate vans weighing up to 7,500 kg. Who would rent such a heavy van? People moving house are the most likely. These types of vans tend to be closed box trucks with a fairly decent cargo capacity for moving house. It is a lot easier to move house with one of these vehicles than to try to do it with smaller vans or cars and trailers.

Hiring a Van

If you intend to hire a van for any purpose, you need to furnish the hire company with the appropriate documentation relating to your licence and insurance. Where your licence is concerned, you will be required to present a photo card licence or a signed copy of your paper licence along with some other form of photo identification. The hire company will also want to take a look at your driving record to see if you have any points or other penalties they should be concerned about.

With the abolition of the paper driving licence in 2015, the only way of accessing driver history information now is directly through the DVLA. Drivers can contact the DVLA to obtain a personal identification code that allows access to their records. That code is then given to the hire company at the time the vehicle is picked up. The company goes online and checks the driver’s history prior to completing the transaction.

If you do not have the appropriate driving licence for the type of van you are trying to rent, you will not be allowed to complete the transaction. Simply put, you will not be allowed to rent a Category C1 van if you only have a Category B licence. Also, keep in mind that it is illegal for an appropriately licenced driver to hire a van and then allow someone without a proper licence to drive the vehicle.

If you have any questions about vehicle weights before hiring a van, vehicle hire companies that rent vans usually publish all of the necessary information on their websites. You can also call hire companies directly and ask.

Van Driving Licence Training

Should you ever have need of driving a van heavier than 3,500 kg, you will not be able to do so without a Category C1 licence. The good news is that you can obtain that licence simply by taking and passing the appropriate tests. There are both theory and practical skills tests that apply to this licence category. The HGVT Training Services (HGV Training Centre) can prepare you for those tests via our comprehensive training programme.


We train both professional and non-professional drivers looking to get a van driving licence. Our training programme is fast and concentrated, so you don’t have to commit several months of your time just to get your enhanced licence. In just a few weeks, we can have you ready to go.

Our van driving licence programme concentrates on three primary areas of instruction:

Students who complete our van driving licence programme will then have the licence they need to rent heavier vans for whatever reason. But there are additional benefits as well:

It is well worth the time and money to undergo driver training if there is any possibility that you will be in need of a van heavier than 3,500 kg. Our training not only prepares you to take and pass your tests but it also ensures that you are the best driver you can be when operating heavier vans.

Why Train with Us

You have a lot of different options for driver training here in the UK. So why train with us? Because the HGVT Training Services (HGV Training Centre) is one of the most reputable training organisations in the UK. We also happen to be the largest. With more than four dozen facilities in and around every major metropolitan area in the country, we have a training facility near you. Training with us is convenient, affordable, and fast.

We pride ourselves on our high-quality training and individualised approach. It is always our goal to do whatever is necessary to ensure students succeed in our training programmes right from the start. To that end, we provide administrative assistance and individualised help and support for each student who passes through our doors. We also only employ experienced instructors who have spent time driving the vehicles they are training others to drive.

For more information about getting your van driving licence through the HGVT Training Services (HGV Training Centre), please contact us on 08000315765 . We are ready to get you going as soon as you are ready to begin training. Do not forget to ask about our financing option when you call.

Van Driving Resources

For further information on Van driving please see the list of our other articles below.


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