Any towing gurus here? Esp regarding weights

I hope to be driving to the Dordogne from the UK in early Dec with my 16 ft bed tilting Ifor Williams 3500kg trailer. I am undecided what car to tow it with - and here’s where I can’t find out what the rules are in France.
I took my licence before '97 so am eligible in the UK to drive up to 7500kg (and I believe tow up to 8200kg max train weight - ie tow vehicle and trailer). So that’s not the issue.

In the UK - if I tow a 3500kg trailer - even if it’s not loaded (and empty it weighs a tad under 900kg) I have to tow it with a vehicle that is rated to tow a 3500kg trailer, as they say that is IS POSSIBLE to have 3500 on the back. Is this the same rule in France?

Why do I ask? My V8 Landcruiser is of course rated for 3500kg, but just sucks fuel… 16 MPG with a load if I’m lucky - so I try not to use it - esp on long journeys. I also have a 320 Merc Estate, that will tow 2100 Kg - and return a very happy 30+ MPG. So a return journey is 200+ quid less in the Merc. I am bringing back a small car under 1 tonne, so the weight on the back will be under the capacity of the Merc - so I’d prefer to take that if I can. But am I allowed to???

Of course - as I am going out empty - if anyone needs anything large bringing from the UK to France in Dec - then talk to me !! :slight_smile:

One last question… Autoroutes! I know they charge extra tolls for caravans - but how about biggish trailers?

Thanks in advance!

I think you need to be very careful with the regulations - I know somebody British who got into massive trouble here in 24 because he had the same driving licence as you and towed his gardening business stuff around but it turned out to be illegal, because in France you need to pass a special extra bit of driving test in order to do that. I am sure someone who knows better than I will be along soon but à priori you may have trouble. It is the same sort of situation as being allowed to drive at 17 in UK but having to wait until 18 in France even if you have a UK drivng licence. And the rules on towing vehicles and weights etc are yet another can of worms.

Not sure about the weights, but peages charge on height, not length or weight in my experience. I towed an Eriba Puck (hardly higher than the Peugeot Partner) and paid nothing extra. Even though it triggered some of the speed cameras set to catch lorries. Never got a fine though, obviously their computers worked out what I was from the reg. no. each time. :slightly_smiling_face:

£200 is the extra cost for using the correct vehicle ??? and you will be driving through UK presumable on your way to France… ???

small change compared to what one might be fined or (heaven forbid) in case of an accident en route… in whichever country…

£200 is worth it surely, for the peace of mind… and the knowledge that in UK you will be legal… regardless of France…

If the trailer is rated for 3500kg, then the vehicle doing the towing must be rated to pull that much, regardless of the load - that’s always been my understanding.


You need the B+E category on your licence in order to tow a trailer over 750kg gross, up to 3500kg gross. The total train weight of the towing vehicle + the trailer can exceed 4250kg.

Le permis BE permet de conduire un véhicule qui présente les 5 caractéristiques suivantes :

  • Affecté au transport de personnes ou de marchandises
  • PTAC inférieur ou égal à 3,5 tonnes
  • 9 places assises maximum (conducteur compris)
  • PTAC de la remorque supérieur à 750 kg sans dépasser 3 500 kg (ou semi-remorque)
  • Somme des PTAC (voiture +remorque) supérieure à 4 250 kg

The rules here in France are pretty much the same as in the UK, all to do with the potential max weight not what the car/trailer combo actually weighs.

You also have rules about speeds, if your combo could weigh more than the PTAC limit you have to adhere to the reduced speeds, and display stickers on the trailer.

So I am restricted to the same reduced speed limits if I tow a 500kg unbraked trailer as I would be towing out 1600kg braked caravan.

You also have to make sure your driving licence authorises you to drive a combo of that weight. I can tow our caravan because of when I passed by driving test, my son can’t tow the caravan without passing an additional driving test.

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Should also have said that a car and trailer (whatever sort) is charged according to the category of car regardless of the trailer.

But the English person I know with the towing problems is an oldie like you, maybe even older, I think he has retired now - so I don’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to tow his trailer with gardening equipment on it. Perhaps it was just super-heavy equipment or the trailer was oversized :thinking:

The rules on towing relate to:

a. what the car is permitted to tow;

b. what the driver’s licence permits;

c. complying with the law as regards the trailer, its lighting, speed markings, the total actual weight vs the allowed weight, securing the load etc.

Without knowing the specifics is isn’t possible to tell why the person you know was pulled up. I expect the police (or whoever) will have explained at the time.

Grahame Pigney

P Help save paper - please don’t print this email unless you really need to.
P Sauvegardons la planète. Avez-vous vraiment besoin d’imprimer cet e-mail?

This is very topical for me. We bought a camping car earlier this year so that we could continue to see this beautiful country with very little physical contact with others hence we call our camping car BUBBLE.
We are now seriously looking at aquiring a Smart car and trailer to tow with us so that we can tour the areas we visit more easily. We plan to call our Smart car SQUEAK!
I have done extensive research into the towing limits to be sure that we will be legal.
The following is a google translate of an article published Le Monde de Camping Car which is a French publication for Camping carists but the rules for towing apply universally all veihicles across France.
I hope it answers the questions being asked:

Before choosing the shape, the colour or the number of axles of a trailer, it is necessary to be interested in the traction capacity of your motor home. This key information appears on the gray card in box F3. This is the PTRA of the road combination, i.e. the sum of the PTAC (motor home and trailer). By subtracting from this sum the GVWR of the motor home, we determine that of the trailer (empty weight + payload).

But towing a trailer also involves some administrative restrictions, particularly concerning the driving license. Holders of permits B, C and C1 can tow a trailer with a maximum GVW of 750kg (for a payload of between 350 and 580kg). To tow a trailer with a GVW of over 750kg, you must have the appropriate license

Hitching up a trailer behind your motor home is good. But you still have to have the right license. It all depends on the characteristics of your trailer: it’s its PTAC that is in question. This permissible gross weight is the maximum permitted weight for your vehicle or trailer. It bears the designation F2 on your vehicle registration document .

The B license is sufficient: when the GVWR of the trailer is equal to or less than 750kg and the GVWR of the motor home is less than or equal to 3500kg.
You can tow a trailer weighing more than 750kg with the B license if the sum of the GVWR of your tractor and your trailer is less than or equal to 3500kg.

The B permit + the B96 training are necessary: ​​when the GVWR of the trailer is greater than 750kg and the sum of the GVWR of the trailer and the camper van is between 3501kg and 4250kg.
What does the B96 training consist of? A simple 7-hour driving school training. B96 training will only be of interest to owners of lighter vans. Because with a 3.5 ton motor home, you can’t be concerned (it’s mathematical).

The BE license is required: when the GVWR of the trailer exceeds 750kg or when the sum of the GVWR of the trailer and the motor home exceeds 4250kg.

The C1E permit: when the GVWR of your trailer is greater than 3.5 tonnes.

C1 license (heavy goods vehicle license): when the GVWR of your motor home exceeds 3500kg and the GVWR of your trailer is less than or equal to 750kg.

The C1E license: when your heavy truck motor home tows a trailer with a GVW of over 750kg. Warning: the total weight of the assembly must not exceed 12 tonnes. This rule also applies to motor homes benefiting from the B79 exemption , which allows them to drive a motor home truck with the B license.

Question formalities, a trailer of 500 kg (for a payload between 250 and 300 kg) can circulate on the road by carrying the license plate of the towing vehicle. Beyond this weight, the trailer must have its own registration card and a dedicated registration.

In terms of insurance, it is also the PTAC which defines the procedure to be followed. In fact, if the weight of the trailer is less than 500kg, the motor home insurance applies. On the other hand, beyond a GVW of 500kg, it is necessary to take out individual insurance for the trailer. But be careful, it is only protected by insurance when it is hitched to the motor home.

Have you seen this Grahame?

Perhaps if you just cut the signature (given that no-one prints emails anyway) you can do your bit (or maybe that should be 1224 bits) to save the planet? :slight_smile:

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I haven’t but don’t see how it is relevant to the topic being discussed.

Grahame Pigney

P Help save paper - please don’t print this email unless you really need to.
P Sauvegardons la planète. Avez-vous vraiment besoin d’imprimer cet e-mail?

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No, I suppose that you wouldn’t :slight_smile:

It’s relevant because you had entered some knowledgable & useful replies directly on the forum and I was just thinking how pleasant it was not to see your bloody irritating signature, and then you had to go and do a post by email.

For the sake of everyone and for about the 10,000th time just get rid of it.

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I never reply by email to notifications from here since when I joined and assumed that they were personal I replied with a lack of tact towards others, thinking that they were private. :astonished:

And at least you are spared my signature links Paul. :wink: :laughing:


Very good point!

If towing a trailer of 900kgs irrespective of its permitted gross weight your towing vehicle would have to be plated to tow 900kgs. Example our berlingo has a braked towing capability of 1100kgs so therefore could tow a MT ifor William’s trailer as long as the actual weight of the trailer does not exceed 1100kgs. Vehicle towing falls into 3 categories, driving licence requirements,defined by gross plated weights, actual weight of the combination in use and CU regulations. UK and French driving licence regulations are the same except for the quirky B96 licence in France.

In the example you quoted with your Merc, if you are certain about the weights then it would be legal in France.

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I,m afraid that’s incorrect the towing vehicle has to be plated to tow the actual weight of the trailer, not the trailers plated weight.

Unmentioned so far is the key point as to whether this is a short private visit or a commercial visit. As long as your combination and driver meets UK regs then that is technically sufficient for a short visit to France. UK regs now require trailers to be registered if they are used commercially which I believe can be done online if you Google the regs. I recently travelled into France from Spain and back out with a large trailer loaded with a personal 750kg car with just a long hard glance from a frontier gendarme, more at the load I suspect. Technical doesn’t mean you won’t be stopped and questions asked or doubts expressed about the UK regs. I used a Bip&Go ‘badge’ from SANEF so I did not need to come to an absolute halt at the frontier or toll barriers or indeed hang about there with a long trailer, and I carried documents showing the UK-reg car on the trailer and the UK tow car were both mine in making the combination legal and covered by the tow car insurance. It is probably not helpful to suggest that a Land Cruiser and large trailer may look more worth a ‘stop’ to check if it is a commercial venture.