By Debbie Holden 18 Nov 2013 6 min read

License requirements for UK van drivers

You need a very specific type of license in order to drive a van safely and legally in the UK. Training is required in order to get to an adequate level to undergo the tests

After you’ve completed some training, the final licensing exam is made up of a theory section and a practical section. If all parts of the test are passed, you will be able to drive a van with no restrictions in place.

A ‘van license’ is more technically known as a C1 license. The license allows the holder to drive good vehicles between the weights of 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes.

People who passed their driving test pre-1997 have this license already included with their standard license as restrictions were different at that time. It is recommended that you complete a short refresher course of some sort if you have not driven and HGV in some time or, if you have never driven one, complete a short course to at least show you the basics.


Driving for employment purposes

Medical exam

If you are learning to drive one of these vehicles for employment purposes, which is what the majority of people drive HGVs for, you will need to complete a medical exam.

The medical exam exists to check for health conditions that may be lurking under the radar. The general fitness of the driver is checked too as fitness rates do play an important part in the safety of other road users such as the rate that a driver becomes fatigued.

The medical exam itself will take no longer than half an hour and incorporates a fitness test, as well as eye and ear examinations, among other things.

Final exams

The final exams are much like the examination process of the standard driving test. The theory section is split into a multiple choice test and a hazard perception test where the student watches an interactive video and presses a button when they see a potential hazard.

The practical exam is the toughest challenge for most students. It requires the demonstration of driving techniques from the basic to the advanced. Drivers need to show that they can complete manoeuvres safely whilst showing awareness of those around them.


Other License Types

HGV/LGV Cat C+E (Class 1): Any vehicle over 7.5 tonnes that has a detachable or separate trailer. Cat C+E licenses can only be applied for after the driver has taken and passed Cat C.

HGV/LGV Cat C (Class 2): Vehicles with rigid based body over 7.5 tonnes. E.g. fire engines and bin lorries.

Cat C1+E: This is the same as a standard C1, as mentioned earlier but, the driver is able to tow a trailer also.

Cat B+E: Allows you to tow from a standard car. Not needed if passed before 1997.

Cat D: This is a full bus/coach license. You can drive a passenger carrier of any size.

Cat D1: Enables you to drive a minibus of 9-16 seats maximum. Not needed if passed before 1997.


Jack writes for Van Discount who have a wide range of new vans for sale from Citroen Relay Vans, to Citroen Berlingo vans. Van Discount have years of experience and, most importantly, an unbiased view on what van would suit your business best.