Everything you have to know to master roads and regulation with your van
Everything you have to know to master roads and regulation with your van
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Questions & Answers

My Van & Traffic Regulation

Check our FAQs to get an overview of traffic regulation.

Is there a minimum age for driving a van?

Anyone with a standard driver’s license (Category B) can operate a van weighing up to 3,500kg with payload. This is normally classified as a Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV). To drive a vehicle over 3,500kg, however, you may need to pass a Driver Certificate of Competence (CPC) qualification. You can qualify to take this test from the age of 18.

What is the national speed limit for vans?

Vans are generally subject to lower speed limit than cars, as they must follow the speed limit that applies to goods vehicles of the same weight.

Most vans must abide the following speed limits that apply to goods vehicles with a maximum laden weight under 7.5 tonnes:

• Built-up areas: 30 mph (48 km/h)

• Single carriageways: 50 mph (80 km/h)

• Dual carriageways: 60 mph (96 km/h)

• Motorways: 70 mph (112 km/h), or 60 mph (96 km/h) when towing a trailer. 

If you van has a laden weight under 2 tonnes, however, you must abide the same speed limits as cars:

• Built-up areas: 30 mph (48 km/h)

• Single carriageways: 60 mph (96 km/h)

• Dual carriageways and motorways: 70 mph (112 km/h) or 60 mph (96 km/h) when towing a trailer

Local speed limits may vary, so be sure to remain attentive to road signage and adjust your speed accordingly. Also note that it may not be safe to drive at the speed limit in some circumstances.

How to use a digital tachograph

Digital tachograph units are devices embedded into the vehicle that record readings including speed, distance and driver activity.

Their presence is mandatory under EU and national law, as their data can be used to ensure drivers and employers abide by the rules on drivers’ hours (e.g. break times, the number of hours driven, etc.) These units are operated using a driver smart card with a built-in SIM chip that stores the data. The driver must simply insert the card into the dedicated slot in the front of each unit. Note that each card is unique to the individual driver it's issued to, and must not be transferred. Data from the card must be downloaded every 21 days and retained, so it can be accessed by the relevant authorities in the event of an inspection.

What is an MOT certificate?

The MOT test, or simply MOT, is a vehicle test of road safety and environmental standards that is mandatory for vehicles of 3+ years old.

The related certificate shows that the vehicle has passed the test. It must be carried out by the third anniversary of first registration and annually thereafter. Private minibuses with over 8 seats need an MOT certificate annually regardless of age. You must use an officially approved MOT centre. The maximum fee is £58.60 for vans up to 3.5 tonnes. Note that the penalty for driving without an MOT can reach £1,000.

How does the MOT test work?

Your vehicle must take a Ministry of Transport test (MOT) three years after its registration or, if it’s older than 3 years, a year after its latest MOT.

During this test, important parts of your van will be tested and checked to ensure they comply with legal safety and environmental standards. You're permitted to watch the testing process from a viewing area; however, you won't be allowed to intervene or interrupt the tester.

Once testing is complete, you will receive an MOT certificate if your van passes. If your van fails the test, you will be given a list of what needs to be fixed. You can then have the vehicle repaired and retested. Note that being caught driving a vehicle without a valid MOT can incur a fine of up to £1,000.

For more information on which parts of your van will be tested and how, consult the MOT inspection manual for vehicle classes that include light commercial vehicles.

How do I get an International Driving Permit?

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is required to drive in most countries outside the EU and/or EEA.

To qualify for an IDP, you must be a UK resident, have passed your driving test and be 18 or over. Obtaining one is a fairly straightforward process. The Post Office can supply you with an IDP if you simply drop by select branches with your driving licence, passport and a passport-size photo signed on the back, and fill out a form. You will be charged £5.50 for a permit that is valid for one year. You can also request an IDP by post from the AA and the RAC – note that different fees may apply.

What are the rules for driving a van outside of the UK?

If you take your van outside of the UK, you’ll be obligated to follow domestic rules in whichever countries you visit.

Contact the relevant foreign embassies in the UK to get specific country information. Your UK driving license will suffice if you are driving in the EU and/or EEA – otherwise, you will need an International Driving Permit. If you’re towing a trailer or have a gross weight above 3,500kg, follow EU rules on drivers’ hours . In addition to van insurance, you’ll need an identifying marker on your number plate and/or a GB sticker, if you don’t already. Finally, the most obvious (yet most important) rule to remember will be to drive on the right-hand side of the road, which may take some getting used to.

What are the common dimensions for vans?

Vans come in all shapes and sizes (well, almost) but most models you encounter will likely fall within certain common ranges. For reference, here is a comparison of standard Renault van sizes.

Renault's most compact van is the Kangoo. Standard models have the following dimensions:

Overall length: 4.282 metres (≈ 14.05 feet)

Overall width, with side mirrors: 2.138 m (≈ 7.01 feet)

Unladen overall height: 1.805 m to 1.844 m (≈ 6 to 6.05 feet)

Load volume: 3.0/3.6 m3 (≈ 106 cubic feet)

The standard Renault Trafic van dimensions are within the following ranges, from SWB to LWB versions: 

Overall length: 4.999 m to 5.399 m (≈ 16.4 to 17.7 feet)

Overall width, with side mirrors: 2.238 m (≈ 7.3 feet)

Unladen overall height: 1.971 m to 2.465 m in the high roof variant (≈ 6.5 to 8.9 feet)

Load volume: 5.2 to 8.6 m3 (≈ 183 to 303 cubic feet)

The Renault Master is both the largest and most versatile Renault van, coming in a variety of models. The lower and higher ends of the panel van variants are the following:

Overall length: 5.048 m to 6.848 m (≈ 16.5 to 22.4 feet)

Overall width, with side mirrors: 2.470 m (≈ 8.1 feet)

Unladen overall height: 2.303 m to 2.808 m (≈ 7.5 to 9.2 feet)

Load volume: 8.0 to 17 m3 (≈ 282 to 600 cubic feet)

Can I use my van as a temporary housing solution?

There is no law in England and Wales specifically preventing anyone from sleeping in their van. There are, however, practical obstacles. Local authorities have the power to move anyone “residing in a vehicle” from any location except a camp site or private property (provided said “resident” has received permission from the owner, of course). Many authorities, especially in tourist zones, expressly forbid the practice of sleeping in a vehicle overnight in areas like car parks. Extenuating circumstances include breakdowns or other emergencies, such as illness. Make sure to check with the relevant local authority.

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