Driving a van? – 7 essential Van facts you need to know


1. What driving licence do I need to drive a van?

Make sure you have a full driving licence to drive a van and carry the plastic card which is in date and has a photo of you. If you don’t – you could be fined up to £5,000 and up to 6 months in prison if you drive without the proper licence.

2. What category or type of licence do I need to drive a van?

Make sure you have the right licence – you’ll need a Category B licence for vans up to 3.5 tonnes, Category B and E for most 3.5 tonnes van and trailer combinations and C1 for vans up to 7.5 tonnes.

3. What is the maximum load for a van?

You could be fined up to £100 and have your vehicle taken off the road if it’s overloaded or not loaded properly. Check the maximum load of your Van which will be stamped onto the identification plate. Don’t forget to safely secure your load either. Anything over 3.5 tonnes fully loaded means you are subject to the rules regarding heavy goods vehicles which requires a HGV licence, greater limits on drive time and the provision of greater amounts of information including tachograph data.

4. Is there a maximum driving time per day in a van?

To keep the roads safe the government sets maximum driving hours for most types of commercial vehicle. This is complex and subject to change but, as a rough guide, the driver must not drive the van for more than 10 hours – but check the latest on the government website.

5. Is there a special type of insurance required for a van?

You must have the van insured as a ‘van’. Remember you have to tell your insurance company all the details of how you actually use the van. If you don’t you could be uninsured and therefore subject to a hefty fine and/or loss in the event of an accident.

6. What road tax do I need for a van?

VED or vehicle excise duty is subject to change and this was altered in the last budget (July 2015) so make sure your tax is paid up and the next time you renew take care to pay the correct amount.

7. What are the MOT rules for a van?

Vans and commercial vehicles with a load can be a higher danger to the public if they are mechanically unsound. Make sure you MOT your van and service it. All vans weighing less than 3 tonnes are classed as Class 4 for MOT purposes and vans between 3 and 3.5 tonnes as Class 7. If there is any evidence of you not taking proper steps to maintain a vehicle and it is involved in an accident (which may even involve you and/or an employee) you could be liable to be sued and insurance may not claimable. Also, if anyone driving the van notices a fault, be sure to address it quickly.

What happens if I get stopped in my van by VOSA – DVSA?

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency ( VOSA ) has now closed being replaced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency ( DVSA ).

Every year, more than 10,000 vans are checked at random by VOSA/DVSA. More than 9 in 10 vehicles VOSA stopped are dangerously overloaded while more than 6 in 10 have serious mechanical problems.

You face unlimited fines, losing your licence and up to 14 years in prison if you don’t drive and operate your van correctly.

If you and your van are found to be breaking the law then VOSA/DVSA inspectors can issue on-the-spot fines for both non-endorsable and endorsable offences and even stop you from driving your van there and then.

Given the powers to fine and discontinue use, the government advises that you carry out a check of the van you are driving each morning, this is often called the ‘walk around check list’. Briefly you should carry out the following:

In the cab checklist:

  • Have good visibility through all cab windows and mirrors. All required mirrors should be fitted and adjusted correctly.
  • All driving controls, seats and safety belts are adjusted correctly.
  • Test the windscreen washer, wipers, demister and horn.
  • Check all instruments, gauges and other warning devices are operating correctly (including ABS/EBS in-cab warning lights).
  • Have a clean cab and ensure there are no obstructions or loose material.
  • You have a high visibility jacket/vest.

External Vehicle Checks:

  • The van should be sitting square and not leaning to one side.
  • Tax, insurance and transport information present and valid.
  • Number plates must be clearly visible and fixed correctly.
  • Wheels in good condition and secure.
  • Tyres should be free from damage with correct inflation and tread depth.
  • All lights and reflectors fitted, clean and in good condition.
  • Exhaust secure with no excess noise or smoke.
  • Vehicle access, doors, steps and bodywork in good condition.
  • Fuel cap seal in place and not leaking.
  • Engine oil, water, windscreen washer reservoir and fuel levels checked and no leaks.

Prior to Leaving for the day:

  • Steering and brakes fully operational.
  • Any load should be less than the maximum weight, secured down and the weight distributed correctly.
  • ABS/EBS and any other warning lights off

Walk around check list down load

Click here to view our walkaround checklist infographic.

What type of driving licence do I need for a van?

Most light vans can be driven by someone holding a normal driving licence. However, it is always good to check. The government might update its advice from time to time so, to find out if the van’s driver can drive the van legally on UK roads, visit one of the following links:


What is the speed limit for a van?

Maximum speed limits will differ depending on the type and weight of the van you drive. Car derived vans are subject to the same limits as cars but other vans such as a 7.5 tonne van do have lower maximum speed limits.


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