08 Feb 2022

Towing Laws in the UK

When towing any form of wheeled attachment, you need to understand the laws that apply thoroughly, so that you don’t get into any problems on your journey. The worst thing you want is to be halfway to a holiday resort or finishing up a job before getting pulled over by policemen. In this blog, we will discuss everything there is to know about trailer laws so that you can go ahead with your journey feeling excited and not worried.


If you’re looking for a half-pipe or scrap trailer, take a look at Colson Trailers today. 

What is the maximum weight I can carry on my trailer? 

If the trailer has no brakes the maximum weight that can be carried is 750kg gross trailer weight or half the towing vehicles kerb weight, whichever option is less. 


If you are using a trailer that has brakes, you can carry a maximum weight of 3500kg gross trailer weight. 

Trailer restrictions you should be aware of

You should always ensure that you keep aware of your trailer height. Your trailer height shouldn’t exceed 3m high, or 1.7 times the wheel track. 


Some other legal requirements include marking all your trailers with the maximum gross weight in kilograms- this includes unbraked trailers. In addition, all unbraked trailer plates are required to show their year of manufacture. 

Is it required to have a specific driving license to tow?

As with driving any vehicle, you will need a full, valid driving license. This applies the same for towing a combination of vehicles and trailers, weighing up to 8.25 tonnes. 


Although this is usually the case, certain restrictions apply if you passed your driving test between January 1st 1997 and January 19th 2013  or passed your driving test after January 19th 2013 onwards.

What are the speed limits when towing? 

The below speed limits apply to vehicle and trailer combinations below and over 7,500kg maximum authorised mass. 


  • 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
  • 50mph on other roads unless there are lower speed restrictions in operation.


However, if you live in Scotland:


  • The speed limit on a single carriageway is 40mph. 


If you’re unsure about the speed limit, you should check the government’s highway code.

Is there a difference between braked or unbraked trailers?

As the name suggests, an unbraked trailer has no brakes fitted so that the vehicle that is pulling the trailer is doing all the braking. On the other hand, a braked trailer has brakes fitted that work with the vehicle to brake, these are known as ‘overrun brakes’. A mechanical link connected to the tow bar will apply its brakes, putting force through the tow bar. The towbar will then activate the linkage to apply the brakes of the trailer. 

What happens if my load hangs over the end of the trailer? 

If the overhand is between 1m and 2m, you will need to make sure that the end is clearly visible by attaching a piece of cloth to warn drivers behind you. If your overhang is larger than this, between 2 and 3.05m, a marker board must be fitted and illuminated during nighttime. If your overhang is over 3.05m, an attendant is required to be carried and you must notify the police 2 days in advance.

Do I need a marker plate to state that I have a ‘long vehicle’?

You will only need a marker plate if your trailer weighs over 3500kg or if the vehicle you are towing is over 7,00kg gross weight. In the case that you do require a plate, the length of the vehicle will determine which type of plate you will need. 

Thank you for reading our blog ‘What are the towing laws in UK?’. If you’re looking to hire a trailer, get in touch with Colson Trailers today.