RV insurance

Can I Tow a Caravan?

Hooking up your mobile home to your car and hitting the open road allows travel to many places without being restricted by booking hotels or arranging accommodation. However, here are a few things to consider before you run off and purchase a caravan of your own.

If you are a bit of an adventurer and enjoy the great outdoors then spending your holidays in a caravan will appeal to you. It's a great way to see the country and there are a whole host of purpose-built caravan sites available for your use. It is also a cheaper option than paying for hotel rooms especially if you have a couple of kids.

Can my Car Tow a Caravan?

Generally speaking a car is capable of towing a caravanif the mass of the caravan is 85% or less of your car’s total curb weight. One of the most important things to determine when towing a caravan is the capability of your vehicle. If driving a standard car you need to make sure it can handle the weight of towing the planned load. Check your car’s manual for details of the curb weight of your vehicle in order to calculate your car's towing capability.

You'll also need to know the maximum mass of the caravan you'll be pulling. For inexperienced drivers the caravan should be less than 85% of your car's total curb weight; if the caravan exceeds 85% of your cars curb weight then it still may be towed but it will be much more challenging for the driver, especially an inexperienced one.

How much does a Caravan weigh?

A 2 to 4 berth caravan typically weighs around 800 - 1,300kg in total, while a 4 to 6 berth caravan averages 1,300 - 1,800kg. The weight and size of a caravan will vary depending on how many berths, or sleeping areas, the unit contains. The weight and size can also be affected by things like the age of the vehicle, model, or manufacturer.

Average caravan weight
2 to 4 berth800 - 1,300kg
4 to 6 berth1300 - 1,800kg

To find out the weight of your caravan locate the manufacturer's plate which will be attached to the caravan’s chassis. This will provide information about your vehicle's weight, tyre size and pressure, and other useful data.

What Caravan can I Tow?

You can tow any type of touring caravan, providing it falls within the safe towing/payload guidelines for your car. There is no restriction on the type or make of caravan that you can haul, but you will need to make sure that your towing vehicle is fully capable of pulling the weight of your caravan and that you are following the rules.

There is also a variance in how much you should tow depending on your driving experience:

Max recommended towing weight by driver experience (as % of your car's curb weight)
Novice caravan towersup to 85%
Seasoned caravan towersup to 90%
Fully experienced caravan transportersup to 95%

If you own a static caravan you'll need a specialist company to move it for you.

Do I need a Special License to Tow a Caravan?

There is not usually a special towing license required in the UK but again, depending on weight, there are some restrictions.

Holders of a full standard driver's license (category B) who passed their test after 1 January 1997 may drive a vehicle weighing up to a total of 3.5 tonnes and tow a trailer of up to 750kg. (You can also tow a heavier caravan as long as the combined weight limit of car + caravan is under 3,500kg.) For anything above that limit, a BE entitlement must be applied for.

License holders that passed their test before 1997 are allowed to drive a trailer and vehicle with a maximum combined weight of 8.25 tonnes.

Caravan towing weight by license
Standard B driver's license (passed test after 1 January 1997)You can drive a car weighing up to 3,500kg + tow a trailer up to 750kg
Standard B driver's license (passed test after 1 January 1997)You can tow a caravan > 750kg so long as the combined car + caravan weight is under 3,500kg
Standard driver's license (passed test before 1997You can usually drive a car + caravan combination up to 8,250kg
BE driver's license (valid date before 19 January 2013)You can tow any size trailer
BE driver's license (valid date after 19 January 2013)You can tow a trailer of up to 3,500kg

What else should I consider?

Make sure that the overall length and width of your towing vehicle and caravan combination does not exceed the legal limits.

In addition to making sure that you are road legal and safe to tow your caravan there are also limits placed on the overall dimensions of your combination. By law, the maximum width of the caravan should not exceed 2.55 metres and the overall length of the car and caravan should be no more than 7 meters in total.

Maximum legal caravan + car dimensions
Max width2.55 metres
Max length7 metres

For safe operation and towing of your caravan, you will need a tow bar or ‘hitch’. There are 3 or 4 different types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages so make sure that you are getting the one to suit your needs. If the caravan manufacturer recommends a specific type then it is best to heed their advice and fit the recommended model to be as safe as possible.

Finally, be sure that you have the right caravan insurance in place to protect your investment against damage or theft. Caravan insurance will cost around £150 to protect a caravan worth around £9,000.

Emma Hersh

Emma is a writer based in Manchester. She's written about business management, lifestyle, personal finance and recruitment advice for a range of magazines, large enterprise clients and industry trailblazers. She also has extensive Six Sigma experience from her years in logistics business management. For more information see Emma's Linked In profile.