Driving licences have codes on the back with different numbers and letters. In this article, we will guide you through what these categories and codes mean and what type of vehicle each licence type allows you to drive.
What do the letters and numbers on my driving licence mean?
The codes printed on the back of your driving licence tell you what conditions you must meet to drive.
Categories on driving licences are written as letters and numbers (for example, B96), and indicate what vehicles you can drive. Taking a look at column 9 of your photocard is the easiest way to determine what categories your licence covers.
Driving licence codes are written as numbers. They indicate conditions a driver must meet in order to drive safely — 02, for instance, usually refers to somebody needing hearing/communication aid to drive. Column 12 on the driving licence photo card shows driving licence codes.
What are the different types of driving categories?
- Category A licence holders are allowed to drive any bike of any sized engine.
- Category A1 riders can drive light motorbikes with an engine up to 125cc and a power output up to 11kW. The category also allows riders to use motor tricycles with a power output up to 15kW.
- Category A2 is the same as A1 but riders can ride bikes with power output of up to 35kW.
- Category AM applies to mopeds rather than motorbikes. It allows a licence holder to drive two-wheeled or three-wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of 28mph.
The most commonly found category is B which mostly refers to light vehicles.
Category B can mean either of the following depending on when you passed your test:
- You can drive a vehicle and trailer combination with a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of 8,250kg if you passed before 1 January 1997. You’re also allowed to drive a minibus with a trailer over 750kg MAM.
- 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 and with a trailer up to 750kg. You can also tow heavier trailers if the total MAM of the vehicle and trailer is no more than 3,500kg.
In addition, if you are over 21 years old, you will be able to drive motor tricycles whose power output exceeds 15kW.
Category B auto
With a category B auto licence, you can drive a category B vehicle – but only a vehicle with an automatic transmission system
If you fall in this category, 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. If the date is:
- Before 19 January 2013, you can tow any size trailer within the towing limits of the vehicle
- On or after 19 January 2013, you can tow a trailer with a MAM of up to 3,500kg within the towing limits of the vehicle
This category allows you to drive medium-sized vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg MAM (with a trailer up to 750kg).
Over 750kg trailers are allowed to be driven with C1 category vehicles.
The combined MAM of both cannot exceed 12,000kg.
You can drive large vehicles over 3,500kg (with a trailer up to 750kg MAM).
You can drive category C vehicles with a trailer over 750kg.
Note: Powered wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and electric bikes do not require driving licences.
Refer to gov.uk for a full list of categories and what they mean.
What are the codes in column 12 on your driving licence?
Listed under column 12 of the driving licence are numbered “codes” that point to rules and regulations about what and how you can drive. You can find a full list of this below:
|Driving Licence Code||What It Means|
|01||eyesight correction, for example glasses or contact lenses|
|20||modified braking systems|
|25||modified accelerator systems|
|30||combined braking and accelerator systems (for licences issued before 28 November 2016)|
|31||pedal adaptations and pedal safeguards|
|32||combined service brake and accelerator systems|
|33||combined service brake, accelerator and steering systems|
|35||modified control layouts|
|42||modified rear-view mirror(s)|
|43||modified driving seats|
|44||modifications to motorbikes|
|44 (1)||single operated brake|
|44 (2)||adapted front wheel brake|
|44 (3)||adapted rear wheel brake|
|44 (4)||adapted accelerator|
|44 (5)||(adjusted) manual transmission and manual clutch|
|44 (6)||(adjusted) rear-view mirror(s)|
|44 (7)||(adjusted) commands (direction indicators, braking light, etc)|
|44 (8)||seat height allowing the driver, in sitting position, to have two feet on the surface at the same time and balance the motorcycle during stopping and standing|
|44 (11)||adapted foot rest|
|44 (12)||adapted hand grip|
|45||motorbikes only with sidecar|
|46||tricycles only (for licences issued before 29 June 2014)|
|70||exchange of licence|
|71||duplicate of licence|
|78||restricted to vehicles with automatic transmission|
|79||restricted to vehicles in conformity with the specifications stated in brackets on your licence
(2) – restricted to category AM vehicles of the 3-wheel or light quadricycle type
(3) – restricted to tricycles
|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)|
|102||drawbar trailers only|
|103||subject to certificate of competence|
|105||vehicle not more than 5.5 metres long|
|106||restricted to vehicles with automatic transmissions|
|107||not more than 8,250 kilograms|
|108||subject to minimum age requirements|
|110||limited to transporting persons with restricted mobility|
|111||limited to 16 passenger seats|
|113||limited to 16 passenger seats except for automatics|
|114||with any special controls required for safe driving|
|118||start date is for earliest entitlement|
|119||weight limit for vehicle does not apply|
|121||restricted to conditions specified in the Secretary of State’s notice|
|122||valid on successful completion: Basic Moped Training Course. Not for e-scooters!|
|125||tricycles only (before 29 June 2014)|
What happens if I ignore the codes on my licence?
Ignoring to adhere to your licence codes may result in a fine or points against your licence.
The most common number is 01, which relates to eyesight correction. Whatever the class of vehicle you drive, if you have a 01 code you must always wear your glasses or contact lenses, if you have told the DVLA that you require them for driving. If you don’t, you could end up getting a fine if caught.