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Caravans and the law FAQ

14 January 2015 ( 06 March 2020 )

Read our guide to understanding the law around caravans, including legal information on towing, going abroad and where you can park your caravan.

Caravan parked up near a lake and some mountains
Make sure you understand caravaning laws

Do I need a licence to tow a caravan on the road?

It all depends on when you passed your driving test.

If you passed your driving test before January 1, 1997 you can drive a car with caravan or trailer up to a combined weight of 8.25 tonnes. If you passed your driving test after this date then things get a bit more complicated so please visit our article on the subject here.

Are passengers allowed to ride in a caravan while it is being towed?

Absolutely not. It is not only illegal, it is also extremely dangerous and to even consider it is highly irresponsible; a caravan is a relatively flimsy shell and doesn’t contain crash-tested seats and seatbelts, so anyone in there would be completely unprotected in the event of an accident.

Also, the stability of a towed caravan, even in perfect driving conditions, is of the utmost importance and any unexpected shift in weight could cause a potentially lethal accident.

Advice for first time caravanners

Do I need caravan insurance?

While your car must be insured by law, there is no specific legal requirement to have insurance cover for your touring caravan.

However, it would be very unwise not to have it covered, as the risks are legion: while none of us like paying for something we don’t ever want to use fire, road collision, theft and even storm damage could all leave you seriously out-of-pocket should the worst happen.

Over 50? Saga Caravan Insurance can offer excellent benefits
click here for more information today

Can I park my caravan on the public highway?

This is something of a grey area, and it’s best to check with both your local police and council as to their policy and attitudes towards enforcing it.

The main consideration is: is it deemed to be causing an obstruction? If the police and/or local council say it is, then it will have to be accommodated elsewhere.

And even if the police say they have no interest, then you might be left with a serious financial headache should an incident occur as some insurance policies won’t cover your caravan on a public road unless it is attached to a towing vehicle

Assuming you do decide to park it on the road, attached or not, it must be lit if it’s parked on the highway overnight, with the nearside facing the pavement with rear lights facing oncoming traffic.

Stay safe on your motorhome trip

What is the maximum speed limit when towing a caravan?

Obviously you must adhere to designated speed limits, especially in built-up areas where the limit will be 20mph or 30mph.

Outside of built-up areas the maximum speed you can travel at when towing a caravan or trailer on a single carriageway is 50mph, while 60mph is the maximum on a dual carriageway or motorway.

It is illegal to tow a caravan or trailer on the outside lane of a three-or- more lane motorway.

Does my home insurance cover my caravan contents?

It is possible. It is always best to check by asking your insurer specific questions, preferably via email so you have the answer in writing.

For example, if your caravan were to free itself when being towed (despite the mandatory breakaway cable being fitted) and injure someone - or if they simply tripped over an unlit awning rope at night - would you be covered against a personal injury claim?

Saga Home Insurance provides cover that goes beyond what you might expect. For more information and to get a quote click here.

Does my road recovery plan cover me while towing a caravan?

You may find that while the plan covers your car breaking down, a problem with the caravan like a wheel problem or an accident might not be covered, leaving you liable for the cost of recovering it.

Again, it’s always best to check. In writing.

How do different European laws affect my use of the caravan abroad?

Each country has different rules regarding caravans/trailers, so check before you set off for a European jaunt – and remember to check the countries you’ll be travelling through, too!

You’ll need a GB sticker on the back of your towing vehicle and caravan now; your old EU isn’t acceptable.

Spain insists on you displaying a specific ‘marker board’ to the rear of the caravan it’s over 12m/39’. They must have plain yellow in the centre with a red outline, be made out of aluminium, and, be manufactured to ECE70 standard. You can buy them here.

Some countries demand that you carry two warning red triangles. If in doubt, carry two of everything, from hi-vis jackets to marker boards.

And do check your insurance cover. The cost of bringing a damaged caravan back from Europe could prove daunting.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.