Got your eye on a large motorhome, so you can explore the UK and overseas? Then you’ll need a C1 licence. Here’s the Motorhome Protect guide on how to get one.
If you don’t already have one, don’t worry – a C1 licence is accessible to anyone in the UK. If you’re going to be driving a larger vehicle, there are specific licensing requirements you need to meet by law.
Here we’ll discover what the C1 licence is, how to get one and some top tips on how to drive larger motorhomes safely. We’ll also touch on why it’s a good idea to invest in to protect your larger vehicle.
Strap yourself in and join us on a journey to open a new world of exploration in your home on wheels with the right licence.
WHAT IS A C1 LICENCE AND WHO NEEDS ONE?
Each type of vehicle requires a different category driver’s licence. Your regular car comes under the B category. How does a C1 differ?
This licence allows you to drive vehicles with a weight between 3.5-7.5 tonnes (3,500kg to 7,500kg).
Most motorhomes and campervans come under the B category as they weigh less than 3.5 tonnes. However, if you’re looking to buy a larger model, you need a C1.
Who needs this type of licence? If you’re going to buy a 3.5–7.5 tonne vehicle and you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997, you need to change your licence category.
Drivers who got their licence before this date are exempt, as those issued before then include the C1 benefits as standard. This entitlement doesn’t last forever, though.
If you hope to keep your C1 after you turn 70, you must pass a D4 medical and vision exam to renew. Drivers of all ages who wish to use 3.5-7.5 tonne motorhomes need to undergo the same assessment.
So, if you’re going to get a larger vehicle, ensure you have a C1 licence before you get behind the wheel. Without it, you won’t be able to get motorhome insurance and cover your van in case of emergencies.
HOW LONG DOES A C1 LICENCE LAST?
The duration of your C1 licence depends on your age and when you passed your test.
- Drivers 44 years and under get a valid C1 to last five years.
- Drivers over 44 get a valid C1 for one year.
- If you passed your driver’s test before 1st January 1997, you have automatic C1 category status, as mentioned above. If you renew the licence after you turn 70, you get another 3 years validity.
To know your C1 expiry date, check section 4b on your licence. 56 days before this date, you should receive an “application for renewal of lorry and bus entitlement” (D47PU) from the DVLA.
Stay on top of your licence and check it’s not run out before you buy a new vehicle or obtain motorhome insurance.
WHAT OTHER VEHICLES CAN YOU DRIVE ON A C1 LICENCE?
If you’re going to apply for your C1 licence, you might be wondering what other vehicles you can drive. This category includes the following types:
- Trailer: As long as you don’t go over the 7.5 tonne mark, you can tow a trailer.
- Motorised equipment: You can manage any vehicle that comes under this category if it’s within the weight range.
- Light lorry: Get behind the wheel of small lorries if they don’t exceed 7,500kg.
HOW TO GET A C1 LICENCE TO DRIVE YOUR MOTORHOME
You’ve decided to get the vehicle of your dreams and need to pass the C1 to get motorhome insurance and drive legally. There’s no specific training required to obtain this category, but you might want to consider some lessons if you aren’t overly confident in your driving skills.
Before you begin the application process, read the following guide to take the right steps to getting your C1 licence.
CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY
You need to meet certain requirements before you’re eligible to apply for the C1 category licence. You must ensure:
- You are 18 years or older
- Possess a category B driving licence
TAKE A MEDICAL ASSESSMENT
To get a C1 licence, you need to meet a higher medical standard than you do for a Category B licence. To obtain the assessment, begin by collecting a D4 DVLA form from your post office or order one online.
There are two sections to complete on the form – medical and vision. To take these exams, contact your GP or private doctor.
Expect to answer questions about your medical history and if you have any conditions that may affect your ability to drive. The doctor must perform a physical exam that includes an eyesight assessment.
In rare cases, the healthcare professional might not be able to answer the vision section properly on the D4 form. If this happens, contact an optician to complete it.
APPLY FOR THE C1 CATEGORY LICENCE
If you’re eligible and pass the assessments, you’re well on your way to obtaining your C1 licence and getting the motorhome insurance you need to drive your vehicle.
It’s time to get another form – the D2 – from the DVLA site or your local post office and fill it out. You must say on the document that you want a C1 licence and complete some medical questions.
Next, send the D2 and D4 forms together with your current licence to the DVLA. When you get it back, the provisional entitlement should be included.
BOOK THE THEORY TEST
Just like when you got your category B licence, you must take a theory exam. There are three tests to obtain a C1 licence, which are:
- A case study
- Hazard perception
If it’s been a few years since you passed your original test, you might need to refresh yourself on the highway code and what each exam involves.
- The case study costs £23. You get 75 minutes for the exam, which contains seven studies. You have 15 minutes to prepare and then an hour to answer 50 questions. You must get 80% to pass.
- The hazard perception test costs £11 and requires you to watch 19 one-minute videos. In every clip there’s a hazard, except for one which has two. You must identify when an issue is arising and get 67 out of 100 points to pass.
- The multiple-choice exam costs £26. The test has 100 questions about everything related to driving large vehicles and motorhomes in a safe and proficient manner. You must answer 85 or more right to pass.
If you hope to take the theory test in Northern Ireland, you need to have lived there for at least 5 out of the last 12 months, according to law. For England, Scotland, and Wales, you must have lived there for more than 185 days in the last year.
BOOK THE PRACTICAL TEST
The last step before you receive a C1 licence to be able to safely drive and get motorhome insurance is the practical test. You can only book this exam if you successfully complete all the other requirements.
The practical test costs £115 and has two parts. The examiner asks you to demonstrate your driving and safety skills. You can pass this part if you have 15 or less minor faults and no major errors.
You also need to complete a practical section that shows you understand how to load and unload the vehicle and make emergency observations if necessary.
You should find out as soon as your test is over whether you have passed. If you do, congratulations! You should get your updated licence through the post in the next 10-15 days and can set off in your motorhome on your first adventure.
CAN I HIRE A MOTORHOME ONCE I HAVE A C1 LICENCE?
If you want to try a holiday in a motorhome before making a purchase, you still need a C1 licence. After you pass your test, you can drive any rental you like up to 7.5 tonnes.
Bigger motorhomes are ideal for trips with the family or groups of friends who want to enjoy a road trip together. A larger vehicle means more space and sleeping berths to accommodate everyone.
When heading out on the road for some time away, you still need to ensure you have motorhome insurance to cover any potential damage to the van. Without your C1 driver’s licence and insurance policy, you can’t hire a vehicle.
IS A C1 LICENCE VALID FOR DRIVING THROUGH THE EU?
As the UK is no longer part of the European Union, you might wonder if a licence you obtain in your home country is still valid to drive on holiday abroad.
Once you get your C1, you can happily go overseas and travel through the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Your photocard licence is valid in all these countries.
If you only have a paper licence or it was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you might have to get an additional International Driving Permit (IDP).
Not all countries need this, so check with the respective embassy where you live to get the latest rules on an IDP for your destination.
When you buy or hire a motorhome and schedule a trip, make sure your motorhome insurance includes foreign travel. You also need to get a UK sticker for the back of your vehicle, rather than the old GB one, unless its licence plate displays the UK Union Flag.
TIPS FOR DRIVING LARGE MOTORHOMES SAFELY
If you’ve recently obtained your C1 licence but are yet to travel far, you might be worried about managing a larger vehicle on the road.
Fear not! With the following tips, you can make your first trip an enjoyable and safe one.
SECURE EVERYTHING INSIDE AND OUT
Before leaving home, take the time to ensure everything in the interior of your vehicle is secure. Keep kitchen items safely in drawers and cupboards and lock them in place if needed.
Pack away all luggage and any other loose items you’re taking. Having items rolling around in the back of the motorhome while you drive is a huge distraction.
The outside of a motorhome also has its fair share of attachments that you need to secure before setting off.
Perform a Preventative Maintenance Inspection (PMI) and check the following aren’t loose:
If you leave anything lying around your vehicle, you might find it hard to pull away and could damage the item in the process. Having a few minutes to check everything before you drive away is a must.
RELAX AND TAKE IT SLOWLY
With a large motorhome comes more responsibility. You might be used to driving your regular car, but when you get behind the wheel of a 3.5-7.5 tonne van, it feels very different.
Get some practice on quiet roads before making your way onto busy streets and motorways. If you’re going to hire a vehicle, collect it a day or two before you go on holiday to get a feel for driving it first.
Plan to leave early on the day of your trip to give you plenty of time to get to the destination. This allows you to drive slowly and make stops along the way when you need a breather.
Check the route before you set off and decide on some scenic or interesting places to rest. If other road users aren’t feeling your relaxed holiday attitude, pull over and let them pass.
Don’t let other driver’s impatience affect your exciting motorhome experience. If you plan the journey and include fun stops, getting to the destination can be just as thrilling as the time spent there!
KNOW THE SIZE OF YOUR VEHICLE
When you drive a vehicle on a C1 licence, you know it’s going to be big. Make sure you have the exact measurements before trying to pass under a low bridge.
The length and width of the motorhome are likely bigger than what you’re used to. Allow extra room when turning corners or swinging out of a junction and go slow. Ensure there are no cars approaching from either direction so you can use all the space you need.
Some campsites also charge more for longer vehicles. Have your motorhomes’ details to hand to tell the site owner if asked.
USE YOUR MIRRORS
When you drive your normal car, you get used to looking in the rear-view mirror to see what’s behind you, especially when parking and reversing. In a motorhome, there’s no central mirror, which may come as a shock to new drivers.
How can you make sure the rear of your vehicle is as visible to you as possible? Spend a bit of time before your first trip adjusting the wing mirrors to get a better view of the road behind.
If you own the vehicle, consider installing a camera if there isn’t one already included. This allows for easy viewing of the rear and can also involve a beeping system to alert you when you get close to an obstacle.
When changing lanes on a dual carriageway or motorway, check your mirrors, signal, and check them again before moving over.
CHECK THE SPEED LIMIT
You should have checked the maximum speed when taking your tests. If you can’t remember or were exempt from exams, here’s a breakdown according to the government website for large vehicles:
- In built-up areas where a normal car can travel 30 mph, your motorhome can also go at this speed.
- On single carriageways that show a 60 mph limit, your large vehicle must maintain a maximum of 50 mph.
- On 70 mph dual carriageways, motorhomes over5 tonnes need to keep to a 60 mph speed.
- When you travel on a 70 mph motorway, your vehicle may go at the same speed as cars.
Note that the age and model of your motorhome also affects its speed. An older 4-gear van from the ‘70s drives a lot slower than a 2012 turbo diesel version with 6 gears.
Whatever the speed limit may be in a particular area, remember that a motorhome takes longer to slow down and stop than a car. Keep plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front in case you need to stop suddenly.
MAKE PARKING EASY
One of the best ways to make your motorhome driving life simple is to master parking the vehicle. Always reverse into a space so you can easily pull out again when you’re ready to leave. With no rear-view mirror, it’s harder to see pedestrians passing behind your vehicle.
If you find it difficult getting the right angle and entering a small spot, don’t be afraid to ask a passenger or even a passer-by for help. They can see you safely into a space and check for obstacles and pedestrians.
Why not book yourself on a course before your next trip so you can master all of these driving skills?
DON’T GET BEHIND THE WHEEL WITHOUT INSURANCE
If you have a big family or are looking for some fun away from home with a group of friends, a large motorhome is the perfect choice.
This versatile home on wheels can take you wherever you please – from gorgeous coastlines to peaceful forests and lively cities.
To be able to buy or rent your holiday van, you need a C1 licence. Without it, you can’t get motorhome insurance or drive a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes.
Updating your licence isn’t difficult. Meet the requirements and pass similar tests to what you did for your category B licence.
Once you ace the exams and are ready to head out on the road, get in touch with Motorhome Protect. Our specialist team can arrange a policy based on your budget and needs.
Why choose us to arrange your coverage?
- Get a year’s cover and include foreign travel if you’re going to the EU
- Enjoy special offers if you belong to a club
- Receive cover to perform a self-build conversion
- Cover your personal effects in the motorhome for up to £3,500
- Claim values up to £120,000
- Get limitless mileage cover
Contact our team to get a quick motorhome insurance quote today.