If you’ve got a UK driving licence and want to know more about what the different categories are, what you’re legally able to get behind the wheel of and how to add more vehicles then we’ve got the answers. This article will explain what information your driving licence shows and how to understand it as well as answering some of the most commonly asked questions we see.
What Do the Numbers on My Driving Licence Mean?
There are 12 numbers on your driving licence that each relate to a different piece of information. These numbers will usually be on the left-hand side of the information they relate to, which is:
1. Your surname
2. Your first name (s)
3. Your date and place of birth
4a. Licence date of issue
4b. Licence date of expiry
4c. Licence issued by
5. Driving licence number
6. Photograph (number not shown on licence)
7. Your signature
8. Your full address
9. Driving entitlement categories
10. Valid from date for a vehicle category
11. Valid to date for a vehicle category
12. Driving codes for a vehicle category
There are a few things to be aware of with this information. Firstly, 4a refers to the date that particular licence has been issued, not when you were first issued with a licence. So, if you update any details such as your name, address or photograph then this date will also be updated on the new licence.
9 will be shown on the front and rear of the licence. The front will show a list of categories that you are entitled to drive, whilst the rear will have a detailed list of all available categories and if you’re entitled to drive that category of vehicle then there will be dates showing in columns 10 and 11.
There are currently 16 vehicle categories that will show as standard on your driving licence, which are:
AM – this entitles you to drive two and three-wheeled vehicles that have a maximum speed between 15.5 and 28 mph. This includes light quad bikes that are under 350 kg (not including the battery if it is electric).
A1 – this entitles you to drive light motorbikes that have an engine size up to 125 cc, power output up to 11 kW and a power to weight ration that is not more than 0.1 kW/kg. This also entitles you to drive motorised tricycles with a power output up to 15 kW.
A2 – this entitles you to drive a motorbike that has a larger power output, up to 35 kW and a power to weight ration of up to 0.2 kW/kg. The motorbike cannot be derived from one of more than double its power. If you have an A2 entitlement then you can also drive vehicles that would fall under an A1 entitlement.
A – this entitles you to drive any motorbike, including those with a power output over 35 kW and a power to weight ratio that exceeds 0.2 kW/kg. If you have an A entitlement then you can also drive motorbikes that fall under categories A1 and A2.
B1 – this entitles you to drive a motor vehicle with four wheels up to 400 kg if unladen or up to 550 kg if designed to carry goods. This will cover light vehicles and quadbikes.
B – what a category B entitles you to drive will depend on when you passed your driving test. For drivers who passed before 1st of January 1997 then it will typically allow you to drive a vehicle and trailer combination with a maximum authorised mass of 8,250 kg. It also entitles you to drive a minibus, with a trailer, that has a maximum authorised mass of 750 kg. For drivers who passed after the 1st of January 1997 then a category B entitles you to drive a vehicle with up to eight passenger seats and a maximum authorised mass up to 3,500 kg. You can also tow trailers provided the maximum authorised mass does not exceed 3,500 kg. Drivers with a physical disability who have a category B entitlement will also be given provisional entitlements to ride category A1 and A tricycles with this entitlement.
C1 – this entitles you to drive a vehicle with a maximum authorised mass between 3,500 and 7,500 kg with a trailer up to 750 kg.
C – this entitles you to drive a vehicle weighing over 3,500 kg with a trailer up to 750 kg.
D1 – this entitles you to drive a vehicle with up to 16 passenger seats and a maximum length of eight metres. You can also attach a trailer up to 750 kg in weight.
D – this entitles you to drive any bus with more than eight sees, and a trailer of up to 750 kg with it.
BE – this entitles you to drive a vehicle that has a maximum authorised mass of 3,500 kg, with a trailer. The size of trailer you can use will depend on when your received this entitlement on your licence. If it was prior to the 19th of January 2013 then you can tow any trailer withing the vehicle’s towing capacity. It if after that date then you can only tow a trailer with a maximum authorised mass of 3,500 kg, provided it is within the vehicle’s towing limits.
C1E – this entitles you to drive a category C1 vehicle with a trailer weighing over 750 kg in weight provided the combined maximum authorised mass of 12,000 kg.
CE – this entitles you to drive a category C vehicle with a trailer weighing over 750 kg.
D1E – this entitles you to drive a category D1 vehicle with a trailer that weighs over 750 kg provided the total maximum authorised mass does not exceed 12,000 kg.
DE – this entitles you to drive a category D vehicle with a trailer that weighs over 750 kg.
fkq – this covers three categories; f, k and q. F entitles you to drive an agriculture tractor. K entitles you to drive a mowing machine or a pedestrian-controlled vehicle. And q entitles you to drive two and three-wheeled vehicles, without pedals, that have a designed maximum speed under 15.5 mph. If the vehicle is powered by an internal combustion engine, it cannot exceed 50 cc.
There are other categories that may show if you have a specialist entitlement but the ones listed above appear as standard on all UK licences.
Some other categories that you may see include:
B auto – this entitles you to drive a vehicle that falls under a category B but only if it has an automatic transmission.
f – this entitles you to drive an agriculture tractor.
G – this entitles you to drive a road roller.
H – this entitles you to drive a tracked vehicle.
k – this entitles you to drive a mowing machine or a pedestrian-controlled vehicle.
l – this entitles you to drive an electrically-propelled vehicle.
M – this entitles you to drive trolley vehicles.
n – this entitles you to drive vehicles that are exempt from duty.
P – this entitles you to drive a two-wheel vehicle with a maximum speed between 28 and 31 mph. If the vehicle is powered by an internal combustion engine, it cannot exceed 50cc.
Q – this entitles you to drive two and three-wheeled vehicles, without pedals, that have a designed maximum speed under 15.5 mph. If the vehicle is powered by an internal combustion engine, it cannot exceed 50 cc.
Something to be aware of is that you do not need a driving licence to operate an electric bicycle, mobility scooter, or powered wheelchair, even if they are capable of travelling at speeds that require them to be on the road.
Driving Licence Codes
Section 12 of your driving licence is where any driving licence codes will be listed. These codes are simply numbers used to indicate a condition drivers must meet in order to drive that category of vehicles.
Common driving codes you’ll see include:
01 – Eyesight correction (glasses or contact lenses)
02 – Hearing / communication aid
78 – Restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission
79 – restricted to vehicles in conformity with the specifications stated in brackets on your licence
101 – not for hire or reward (not to make a profit)
103 – subject to certificate of competence
105 – vehicle not to be longer than 5.5 metres
106 – restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission
You can see a full list of all codes that might be applied on the government’s website if you’d like to learn more about them.
Your Driving Licence FAQs Answered?
Now that we’ve given you an understanding on what information your driving licence holds and how to use it, we’ve got some of the most frequently asked questions on driving licences and the answers to them.
Where Is My Licence Number?
Your driving licence number will be shown on the front of your licence in section 5. It is fairly central on your licence, above your signature and below the dates of issue and expiry.
What Does My Licence Allow Me to Drive?
What your driving licence will entitle you to drive depends on the driving categories you hold so everyone’s licence will be individual to them. We recommend looking at the vehicle categories listed above and comparing these to the ones with dates shown against them on your own licence. This will tell you what you are able to drive.
What Does My Licence Need to Show to Drive a Van?
You will be able to drive smaller vans, that weigh up to 3,500 kg with your full UK car driving licence.
If you want to drive something heavier than that it will depend on when you got your driving licence. Drivers who passed their test before the 1st of January 1997 will be able to drive a vehicle that weighs up to 7,500 kg on their standard driving licence. Drivers who passed after that date will need to apply for a category C1 entitlement, which requires you to pass a C1 driving test, to drive vans weighing between 3,500 and 7,500 kg.
What Does My Driving Licence Need to Show to Drive a Minibus?
All UK drivers will be able to drive a vehicle with eight passenger seats on their B1 (car) entitlement. However, if you want to drive a minibus with more seats then what your licence needs to show will depend on when you passed your driving test.
If you passed before 1990 then you will automatically be able to drive a minibus under your category A entitlement. However, if you are over 70 years old then your will need to meet the D1 standards in order to drive a minibus.
If you passed in or after 1990 then you will need a category D1 to drive a minibus with between nine and 16 passenger seats. This is an automatic entitlement for drivers who obtained their licence between 1990 and 1997 but if you passed after then you will need to apply for one.
Something to be aware of is that drivers under 21 years old will only be able to drive minibuses in a few circumstances and will be required to complete additional training.
What Does My Licence Need to Drive a Motorbike?
Depending on the size and power of the motorbike you will need either a category A, A1 or A2 entitlement. Most drivers opt to apply for, and take the test for, a category A entitlement as this will allow you to drive A1 and A2 vehicles.
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