Driving license categories and codes explained

You might’ve noticed a small series of letters and numbers on your driving license. They may look random, but they’re actually a way to record some useful information about the type of vehicles we’re allowed to drive and whether there are any conditions we need to meet.

What you need to know about driving codes and categories

There are two parts to the characters printed on your driving licence:

  • Driving licence codes appear as letters or sometimes betters and numbers, like D and D1. These show the kind of cars and vehicles you are allowed to drive, for example if you’re licensed to ride a motorbike but not a car.
  • Driving licence categories appear as numbers and show what kind of conditions you need to meet to be able to drive. For example, if you need to be wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Driving license categories

If you look at the back of your licence, you’ll see a column marked 9 which has images of various types of vehicles with a letter or letter and number beside it. Those will tell you the kind of vehicles you’re allowed to drive. We’ve listed some of the most common categories below, but you can also check what vehicles you’re allowed to drive online.

On an average driving license


Category B - if you passed your test before 1 January 1997

You’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg maximum authorised mass (MAM and drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.

Category B - if you passed your test on or after 1 January 1997

You can drive vehicles up to 3,500kg MAM with up to 8 passenger seats (with a trailer up to 750kg). You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is not more than 3,500kg. You can drive motor tricycles with a power output higher than 15kW if you are over 21 years old.

Physically disabled drivers with provisional category B entitlement will also have provisional entitlement to ride category A1 or A motor tricycles.

Category B auto

You can drive a category B vehicle as long as it’s an automatic.

Category BE

You can drive a vehicle with a MAM of 3,500kg with a trailer. The size of the trailer depends on the BE ‘valid from’ date shown on your licence.

Other vehicles

Category F

You can drive an agricultural tractor

Category K

You can drive a pedestrian-controlled vehicle or a mowing machine

Category Q

You can drive 2 or 3-wheeled vehicles without pedals and with an engine size of more than 50cc. The top speed can't be more than 15.5mph.

On a driving licence with an additional test


Category A1

You can drive a light motorcycle with an engine of up to 125cc.

Category AM

You can drive a 2 or 3-wheeled vehicle with a maximum speed of more than 15.5mph, but not more than 28mph, as well as a light quad bike with an unladen mass of not more than 350kg not including batteries.

On an upgraded license

If you want to drive a bus, coach or lorry for a living, you can take a test to upgrade to category C.

Category C

You can drive large vehicles over 3500kg with a trailer up to 750kg MAM.

Category CE

You can drive category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.

Category D1

You can drive minibuses up to 8 metres long that have no more than 16 passenger seats, plus a trailer of up to 750kg. D1E allows you to haul a trailer of more than 750kg.

Check out the full list of driving categories.

Important driving license codes

To find what licence codes apply to you, you need to look at section 12 of your driving license. In that column, you’ll see any conditions you need to meet to be able to drive the vehicles listed in column 9.

Some of the most common codes you’re likely to see include:

01 - eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses

02 - hearing/communication aid

10 - modified transmission

96 - allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer where the trailer weighs at least 750kg, and the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is between 3,500kg and 4,250kg

97 - not allowed to drive category C1 vehicles which are required to have a tachograph fitted

101 - not for hire or reward (that is, not to make a profit)

You can find a full list of driving licence codes on the government website