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What Is A C1 Licence?

What Is A C1 Licence?

Licence requirements in the UK can get a little confusing, with the mix of alphabet and numbers. For anyone looking to drive a delivery truck or a spacious motorhome, the C1 licence is one of your best options. So, what is a C1 licence, exactly? This vehicle licence is a step up from the B entitlement for cars and vans. This article explains what getting a C1 licence entails, what it allows you to drive and how it can open doors to new opportunities.

What Is A C1 Licence?

Green Truck On The Highway

A C1 licence is a type of driving licence that allows you to operate vehicles with a maximum load weight of 3,500 kg (3.5 tonnes) to 7,500 kg (7.5 tonnes) along with a trailer up to 750 kg (0.75 tonnes). In the UK, your standard Category B licence only qualifies you to drive a vehicle weighing around 3,500 kg, which mostly covers cars and vans. A C1 permits you to drive small lorries and large motorhomes.

People who obtained their car driving licence before January 1, 1997, automatically have the C1 entitlement through grandfather rights. However, those who passed their car test after January 1, 1997, are restricted to vehicles with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg.

See here for a deep insight into the dimensions of a 7.5-tonne lorry.

Eligibility Requirements For The C1 Driving Licence

For starters, there are a couple of things you need to put in place to become eligible for the provisional licence with a C1 entitlement.

  • You have to be at least 18 years old.
  • You must already have a standard driving licence. This will show you have a foundation in road rules and experience to drive a vehicle safely.
  • You also need to pass medical tests to confirm you are fit to drive a C1 vehicle. This medical assessment evaluates your general health, eyesight and any conditions that could impact your driving ability.

After meeting the above requirements, you can get forms for the provisional entitlement before proceeding to the C1 driving test and practical.

See our blog post for a step-by-step guide to obtaining a C1 licence.

Vehicles Permitted With A C1 Licence

Before securing this licence, you’re probably curious about what kind of vehicles it permits you to drive. The C1 licence category primarily pertains to weight limitations rather than the size of vehicles, meaning you can drive any vehicle that weighs below 7,500 kg, no matter its dimensions. Some of the vehicles covered under the C1 licence are:

  • Medium-sized trucks
  • Luton trucks
  • Light recovery trucks
  • Horseboxes
  • Large motorhomes

C1 Vs C1+E Vs C Vs C Licence

Two Trucks In Motion

The C1 is just the entry-level licence to drive heavy goods vehicles (HGV). Let’s see how it compares to similar licences, such as the category C licence and the C1+E licence. There’s only a slight difference between the Cat C1 and C1+E driving licences, and this is in their trailer capacity.

The C1 allows you to drive a 7.5 tonne truck (7,500 kg truck) with a trailer up to 750 kg but the C1+E takes it up a notch. With this licence, you can drive C1 HGV vehicles with trailers weighing over 750 kg. However, the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer can be at most 12,000 kg (12 tonnes).

There’s no upper weight limit when it comes to trucks you can drive on a C licence. You can drive vehicles over 3,500 kg MAM with trailers up to 750 kg. This category typically covers larger goods vehicles (lorries) with a fixed cab and trailer combination. There’s also a C+E licence, which grants you access to drive Cat C vehicles with trailers over 750 kg.

You don’t need to progress through the categories (C1, then C or C1+E). You can directly apply for the driving licence that suits your needs.

How Long Does A C1 Licence Last?

A C1 licence lasts until you’re 45. Drivers aged 44 and under can keep their C1 driving licence without having to renew it. Unfortunately, those over 44 don’t have the same luxury, as they have to renew their licence every five years.

If you obtained your C1 licence before January 1, 1997, you typically have an automatic C1 entitlement. However, you’ll have to renew it more frequently upon reaching 70 years of age. In this case, you’ll need to send a D4 medical assessment form to the Drivers and Vehicles Licencing Agency (DVLA). The form will extend your licence for an additional three years if it is approved.

Professional Use & Benefits Of The C1 Licence

White Truck On The Road

The C1 licence has many benefits but its major perk is that it opens up the door to numerous opportunities. You can become a delivery driver, transporting items in box lorries for companies across industries or operating ambulances and other specialised vehicles. Overall, the C1 licence significantly expands your driving career options compared to a standard car licence and this often comes with higher pay.

However, it doesn’t end with the C1 driving licence. You also need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) to operate heavy goods vehicles for pay. The process of obtaining your CPC card puts you through a series of theory tests (multiple-choice questions and hazard perception test) and occasional practical training.

Hire a 7.5-tonne truck from SDVH, suitable for various tasks. We also have a range of truck hire options in different sizes.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, the C1 entitlement is not included in a standard car licence. The standard licence is the category B licence, which allows you to drive cars and vehicles with a maximum weight of 3,500 kg (3.5 tonnes). To get a C1 entitlement, you must meet the requirements, passing a medical assessment before going through the actual test, practical driving course and training.

Yes, you need to do a theory test for the C1 licence. In fact, there are three C1 theory tests. You begin with a multiple-choice test, where you answer questions regarding the safety and driving of medium-sized goods vehicles. You’ll also have to pass the case study and hazard perception theory tests.

No, you can’t secure a C1 without passing a driving test. In addition to the three theory tests, you’ll be faced with a practical test, which evaluates your ability to handle a C1 vehicle in real-world driving scenarios, including manoeuvres and safe driving practices. Thankfully, there are courses to prepare you for this driving test.

It takes around 10 to 15 working days to receive your C1 licence after passing the tests. Once you’ve completed the practical test and the DVLA receives the results, it will process your application and update your licence with a C1 entitlement. The DVLA will then mail you your new driving licence with the C1 category within around 10 working days.

The maximum authorised mass you can tow with a C1 is 750 kg (0.75 tonnes). There’s also a restriction on the combined MAM of the vehicle you’re driving and the trailer. This combined weight must not exceed 8,250 kg (8.25 tonnes). If you need to tow a heavier trailer, you would require a C1+E licence.


Now you can stop asking, ‘what is a C1 licence?’ The C1 licence is your entry-level licence for heavy goods vehicles, perfect for driving vehicles with a maximum weight of up to 7,500 kg. Whether you’re looking to drive larger vehicles for personal reasons or for pay, you know what to expect and the power that comes with this licence.

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