What Licence Do You Need to Tow a Caravan?

🪪 Can You Tow a Caravan with Your Licence in Australia?

Share It!

With caravanning booming in popularity, it only makes sense that people who’ve never owned one before would be curious about the licencing issues.

If you are wondering if you can tow a caravan with your licence in Australia, it’s all covered here. From a regular C class licence to Learner and Provisional licences.

Plus, find out if your existing car can actually tow a caravan or if you’ll need to swap it out for something more suitable.

Regardless of which licence you hold, I highly recommend doing a towing course before hitting the highway with a big heavy caravan behind you (unless you’re a seasoned tower). A caravan can fast become a weapon if handled in the wrong way and a confident driver makes for a much safer one.

RELATED POST:
10 Caravan Towing Rules →

We are a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to ebay.com and other affiliated sites. We may earn a commission from your purchases at no extra cost to you. For more information, see our disclosures here.

Driver’s Licence Classes Explained

Driver's Licence QLD (sample)
Source: QLD Government

Thankfully, all of the driver’s licence classes and condition codes are the same across all states and territories of Australia.

Here are the eight driver’s licence classifications.

C Car

With a C class licence, you can drive any car (with or without a trailer) that weighs up to 4.5 tonne GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass). The maximum number of adults your vehicle is permitted to carry is 12 (including yourself as the driver).

This does not include motorcycles, as they fall under a separate licence.

What can you drive with a C Class Licence?

  • Vehicles (with or without a trailer) up to 4.5 tonne GVM
  • Vehicles built to carry up to 12 adults (including the driver)
  • Tow a single trailer up to 9 tonnes
This is the licence you’ll need for towing a caravan, as long as your tow vehicle has a GVM of less than 4.5 tonne.

LR Light Rigid

An LR class licence is required for driving vehicles that weigh between 4.5 and 8 tonne. In addition, an LR licence allows you to tow a trailer with a maximum GVM of 9 tonne.

What can you drive with an LR Licence?

  • Vehicles up to 8 tonne
  • Tow trailers up to 9 tonne

MR Medium Rigid

To drive a vehicle with a GVM that is over 8 tonne, an MR licence is required. However, with this licence, you may only drive vehicles with 2 axles. Trailers up to 9 tonne can also be towed with an MR licence.

What can you drive with an MR Licence?

  • Vehicles over 8 tonne with 2 axles
  • Tow trailers up to 9 tonne

HR Heavy Rigid

To drive a vehicle with three or more axles and a GVM of over 8 tonne, a HR licence is needed. A trailer of up to 9 tonne maximum weight can also be towed.

What can you drive with a HR Licence?

  • Vehicles over 8 tonne with 3 or more axles
  • Tow trailers up to 9 tonne

HC Heavy Combination

The HC licence is for driving trucks over 8 tonne GVM and a trailer of more than 9 tonne.

What can you drive with a HC Licence?

  • Vehicles over 8 tonne with 3 or more axles
  • Tow trailers over 9 tonne

MC Multi Combination

An MC licence is for B-double and road train drivers, which permits them to drive vehicles and trailers of all weights.

What can you drive with an MC Licence?

  • B-doubles
  • Road trains

R Motorcycle

An R licence is for two and three-wheeled vehicles, which includes a sidecar, forecar or trailer. In other words, this is a licence just for motorcycle use.

What can you drive with an R Licence?

  • Motorbikes with 2 or 3 wheels
Aus Line Break
Aus Line Break

Do You Need a Licence to Tow a Caravan?

Bedford Weir Camping, Blackwater QLD
Bedford Weir, Blackwater QLD

The only licence you need for towing a caravan is a regular C class licence, which allows you to drive any vehicle (excluding motorcycles) with a GVM of up to 4.5 tonne.

GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) is the maximum allowable weight of the vehicle (set by the manufacturer) including passengers, luggage, accessories and Tow Ball Weight.

To find the GVM of your car have a look on your VIN plate or head to Redbook and search for your vehicle make and model.

Let’s look at the C class licence stipulations, as stated by VicRoads:

You can drive a vehicle that does not exceed 4.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and can seat up to 12 adults including the driver. This does not include motor cycles and motor trikes. You may tow a single trailer up to 9 tonnes GVM or to the manufacturer’s specifications (whichever is less).

Therefore, anyone with an Australian C class licence can drive a car with a maximum GVM of 4.5t and tow a caravan with a maximum GVM of 9t, or to the manufacturer’s weight specifications – whichever is lower.

So, in order to stay legal, the next step is to have a look at your vehicle’s towing weights (more on that further down).

Aus Line Break

Can You Tow a Caravan on a Learner or Provisional Licence?

The towing rules for drivers who are on their L-plates or P-plates will vary from state to state around Australia. Find out below which states allow Learner and Provisional licence holders to tow a caravan or trailer.

ACT Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Permitted to tow up to 750 kg GVM
  • P1 Licence – Permitted to tow up to 750 kg GVM
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow

NSW Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Not permitted to tow
  • P1 Licence – Permitted to tow up to 250 kg tare
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow

NT Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Permitted to tow
  • P1 Licence – Permitted to tow
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow

QLD Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Permitted to tow
  • P1 Licence – Permitted to tow
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow

SA Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Permitted to tow
  • P1 Licence – Permitted to tow
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow

TAS Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Not permitted to tow
  • P1 Licence – Permitted to tow
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow

VIC Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Not permitted to tow
  • P1 Licence – Not permitted to tow
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow

WA Towing Rules for L & P Plates:

  • Learners – Permitted to tow
  • P1 Licence – Permitted to tow
  • P2 Licence – Permitted to tow
Aus Line Break

Can Your Car Tow a Caravan?

We’ve already established that as long as your car is under 4.5 tonnes when fully loaded, you can tow a caravan with a GVM of up to 9 tonnes.

However, most Australian cars will not have a towing capacity large enough for that size caravan. Although your licence may allow you to tow something that heavy, it doesn’t mean your car’s manufacturer will allow it.

When figuring out what type of caravan your car can legally tow, there are five (5) things to check.

Car’s Towing Capacity

Vehicle Towing Capacity

Towing capacity is the maximum weight that your car can legally tow, which is set by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Two towing capacities to look at:

  1. Unbraked – Max weight the car can tow if the trailer doesn’t need its own brakes
  2. Braked – Max weight the car can tow if the trailer does have its own braking system

It’s important to know that any caravan with an ATM (fully loaded weight) of over 750 kg must have its own braking system.

So, unless you’re going for a lightweight Teardrop or Pod Camper, you’ll need to look at your vehicle’s braked towing capacity.

Where to find your vehicle’s Towing Capacity:

  • Head to Redbook
  • Search for your vehicle
  • Scroll down to ‘Specifications’
  • Click on ‘Dimensions & Weights’

For a deep dive into towing capacities, check out the article below.

Braked & Unbraked Towing Capacities Explained →

Car’s Towbar Capacity

Tow Bar Capacities (Ball Load & Trailer Weight)
Source: TAG Towbars

You need to find out your car’s towbar capacities so that you know the maximum weight caravan you’re able to tow. If you do find that your towbar rating is too low, you will need to upgrade to one with a higher rating.

You can find your towbar capacities on your towbar compliance plate, which should be located somewhere on your towbar.

Two towbar capacities to look at:

  1. Max Ball Load – maximum Tow Ball Weight you can apply to the towbar
  2. Max Trailer Weight – Maximum weight caravan you can tow (look at the caravan’s ATM)

When you hook up a caravan, there will be a transfer of weight that comes off the caravan and onto the rear of the car. This is called ‘tow ball weight.’

If you haven’t bought a caravan yet or don’t know what the tow ball weight will be, you can use an estimate. To work out an approximate tow ball weight, just calculate 10% of the caravan’s ATM, which will be stamped onto the caravan compliance plate.

How to Work Out Tow Ball Weight (TBW) →

Car’s GVM

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is the maximum weight that your car is allowed to be when it’s fully-loaded, which is set by the vehicle manufacturer. You can find your GVM on your VIN plate or on Rebook.

It’s important to know your vehicle’s GVM so that you know how much payload allowance you have. More on that next.

GVM Explained →

Car’s Payload

Car & Caravan Payloads

Payload is the amount of weight you have available for all of your “stuff.”

To work out payload you simply take the maximum weight that the car is allowed to be (GVM) minus the vehicle’s empty weight (Tare or Kerb). The figure you’re left with is your payload.

It’s important to make sure you’re going to have enough payload for all of the passengers and items you’ll need to pack into the car, as well as the caravan’s tow ball weight. There’s no point getting a caravan so heavy that you haven’t got weight left for anything else.

Payload includes:

  • Driver & passengers
  • Full fuel tank/s
  • Luggage
  • Tow ball weight from the caravan
  • Accessories & modifications

Car & Caravan Payload Calculators →

Combined Weight of Car + Caravan (GCM)

Gross Combination Mass (GCM)

The last figure you need to look at is the GCM, which is the maximum allowable weight of both the car + caravan combined. This figure is set by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Note that the GCM is the combined weight of both the car plus caravan when they’re both fully loaded.

Here’s what your GCM weight will include:

  • Driver & passengers in the car
  • Caravan tow ball weight
  • Full fuel tank/s
  • Full water tanks
  • Full waste tanks (black water, grey water & toilet cassette)
  • Full hot water tank
  • Full gas bottles
  • Food & drinks
  • Clothing
  • Linen
  • Toiletries
  • Cooking gear
  • Entertainment items
  • Camping furniture
  • BBQ
  • Jerry cans & holders
  • Tools, toolboxes & maintenance gear
  • Hoses & leads
  • Levellers & chocks
  • Annex walls/ privacy screens
  • Outdoor matting
  • Accessories
  • Mods & upgrades (solar system etc.)

Essentially, you need to take your GCM (set by the car manufacturer) and minus the weight of your car when it’s fully-loaded (GVM). What you’re left with is how heavy the caravan can be.

All About GCM Weight →

Be walked through the process of buying a caravan with the interactive Buyers Guide below!

Caravan Buyers Guide (15-page)

Caravan Buyers Guide

Take the stress out of buying a caravan with this interactive step-by-step guide!

  • 15-page Guide
  • Checklists to tick off
  • Interactive prompts to fill out
  • STEPS INCLUDE: Budget, Set-up, Towing Weights, PPSR Check, Handover, Hitching Up & more!
  • DIGITAL & PRINTABLE
Aus Line Break

Travel Planning Tools

Travel Checklists
Planners & Guides
Budget Spreadsheets

Pin It!

What Licence Do You Need to Tow a Caravan? - PIN

Share It!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top