Your driving licence will display what you’re legally allowed to drive on public roads. So if you’re asking, can I drive a Luton van? On a normal category B car licence?
Yes, if you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997 you will have category B entitlement on your driving licence. You can legally drive a Luton van with a GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of 3.5 tonnes.
If you passed your test before 1 January 1997 then you can legally drive a vehicle with a GVW of up to 7.5 tonnes.
In This Article, You’ll Learn
- Is It Hard To Drive A Luton Van?
- At What Age Can You Drive A Luton Van
- Which Category B Applies To You
- Category B Entitlement
- Category B Exclusions
- Driving A Box Van On Category B1
- Pros & Cons To Driving A Large Van
- So, Can I Drive A Luton Van?
- Buying A Luton Van
- Staying Legal On UK Roads
Is It Hard To Drive A 3.5t Luton Box Van?
How difficult is it really to drive a large box van?
Well, in comparison to the average car, a Luton box van might feel like operating a blimp – and if it’s your first time behind the wheel of a large 3.5-tonne vehicle it’s certainly something that’ll take you a moment to master.
Novice Luton drivers also have an uncanny ability to misjudge the length of their vehicle too and regularly find stray kerbs with their rear wheel. Understanding that pedestrian toes are irreplaceable and tyres aren’t cheap, extra care should be taken when cornering. Particularly at left-hand junctions.
For more experienced road users though, it doesn’t take too much to get a handle on things and as most modern vans are as refined as some cars, they’re fairly simple to operate.
They are exceptionally large, however. The next step up is a lorry and a lot of people can be intimidated by the sheer bulk so, if you’re hiring or leasing a van of this size, you should be very aware of the extra due care and attention you’ll have to give such a big bird.
They are fantastic to own and drive though and we love them. So when asking “can I drive a Luton van?”, think of it as less a case of being legally entitled to drive such a chunky girl, and more a case of if you’re actually able to.
Top Tip For Driving A Luton Van: Take The Corners Wide.
At What Age Can You Drive A Luton Van
If you have passed your driving test and have class b entitlement, you can drive a Luton van from the age of 17. This is the earliest age you can sit a valid driving test in the UK.
So Which Category B Are You?
If you were fortunate enough to have passed your driving test before 1 January 1997, you’re entitled to drive a vehicle with a GVW of up to 7.5 tonnes.
This is because due to grandfather rights, you’re permitted to drive any vehicle that was permitted under category B at the time you passed your test.
This entitlement ended for drivers who passed their test on or after 1 January 1997. Category B entitlement from then on applies only to vehicles with a max GVW of 3.5 tonnes permitting you to drive a Luton sized box van – but nothing heavier.
Category B Entitlement
Even though you can drive a Luton van on a normal car licence, category B entitlement is different for some than it is for others.
For Those Who Passed Their Test On Or After 1 January 1997
- You can drive vehicles with a maximum GVW of up to 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes). This is basically a Luton van-sized vehicle or lighter.
- You can also drive any vehicle, again with a GVW of up to 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) with no more than 8 passenger seats. Basically a minibus.
- If you’re over 21 years old, Category B entitlement also permits you to ride motor tricycles with a power output of no more than 15kW.
- You can also tow a trailer up to 750kg where the maximum authorised mass doesn’t exceed 3,500kg – weight of car/van + trailer.
For Those Who Passed Their Test Before 1 January 1997
- Lucky you, you can do all of the above + your maximum authorised mass (combined GVW) is limited to 8,250kg and not 3,500kg.
Category B Auto
All of the above except any vehicle you wish to drive must have an automatic transmission.
*All of the above includes being able to drive a Luton van with a tail lift.
Exclusions To Category B Entitlement
You should note that category B isn’t a blanket entitlement for any vehicle with a GVW up to 3.5 tonnes, a Luton van. There are vehicles that although much lighter, have very specific categories of their own.
These are of course motorcycles. You must undergo a separate driving test if you wish to ride this category of vehicle.
Can You Drive A Luton Van On Category B1?
No, category B1 only entitles you to drive light vehicles and quad bikes. These are vehicles with 4 wheels with an unladen weight of up to 400kg or if they’re designed for carrying goods, 550kg fully loaded.
You can drive category B1 vehicles from the age of 17.
Don’t confuse category B with B1.
Top 3 Pros & Cons Of Driving A Luton Van
- Modern Luton vans are a far cry from what they used to be. The smokey, rattly boneshakers of days gone by are no more. These days, Luton vans are as comfortable as cars and will take you and your payload to any destination in complete comfort.
- Payload space in a Luton van is phenomenal. If packed properly, you can easily fit the contents of a modest 2 bedroom flat in the back – weight limitations permitting of course.
- You can drive a Luton van with a normal car licence. This means you can get “almost” all of the benefits of a small lorry without having to sit any further driving tests.
- Luton vans by their nature are huge. This means taking extra care in congested streets and city centres due to the vans many blind spots. Parking is also problematic, especially when delivering to homes or businesses in town centres or even moderately busy streets.
- Fuel consumption isn’t great. With a 2.4-litre engine pulling 3.5t, you can’t realistically expect moped mileage here so be prepared for some moderately heavy fuel consumption. Luton van manufacturers will swing lovely numbers like 28mpg around but these tests are done in the most favourable of conditions. Real-world mileage is around 20-22mpg.
- They’re expensive. For a second hand Luton van you can, in some cases, pay up to twice the price as you would for a smaller panel van of similar age and condition.
So Can I Drive A Luton Van?
You can now rest assured that yes, you can legally drive a Luton van with a normal car licence with category B entitlement regardless of when you passed your test.
Be very aware of your driving ability though. 3.5t vans are long, wide and high with plenty of blind spots to crash, bash and knock. If you’re a novice driver who’s recently passed their test or if you’re already naturally nervous on the road, opting for a smaller panel van to build your confidence might be a better option.
Buying A Luton Van?
If you’re looking to buy a van, we did an in-depth review of 5 of the top van insurers in the UK. You can read that great article here: Van Insurance For Start Ups
Also, we’re impatiently waiting for somebody to invent a viable box van in electric form. Of course, we did a great article on that too which can be found here: Dude, Where’s My Electric Van?
Stay Legal Driving On UK Roads
Information in this article is true and accurate at the time of writing (30/10/2020) however the Department of Transport can and do change the rules and entitlements occasionally. We might not be as quick to update this page.
When it comes to the law and keeping yourself legal while driving, always check the DVLA website for the most recent information on driving licence categories, entitlements and what you’re licence legally allows to drive on UK roads. The link to the DVLA website is at the top of this page.
You might also be interested in our other helpful article on driving entitlements for a minibus. Feel free to check that out.