Throughout our lives, there are many milestones. The first day at school, the first date, becoming a teenager, and reaching retirement are just a few examples. Reaching the ripe old age of seventy is another milestone and it’s a time when many people choose to reevaluate their lives and look for ways to enjoy their later years.
For many, it means exploring the option of buying a motorhome and heading out on the road.
One thing to consider before you start looking at a motorhome is whether you’re legally able to drive one. Once you hit 70, things can get a little complicated. This is all down to the over 70s driving licence shake up and requirement to renew your licence.
If you want to get out on the open road and enjoy exploring the UK in your motorhome, this article will answer some of the most common questions about having a motorhome driving licence at 70.
Can you drive a motorhome after the age of 70?
Motorhomes tend to be larger than the average car, so you may need a special licence if you want to drive one. Requirements also depend on when you passed your driving test.
The type of licence required depends on how old you are and the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of the motorhome you want to drive. What is the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM)? It’s the vehicle’s weight plus the maximum load it can carry.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to drive a larger motorhome once you reach the age of 70, but there are licence requirements you’ll have to meet. Those licensing requirements depend on the size of the motorhome you want to drive.
Knowing what you can drive on your licence is important. Many 70 year olds are entitled to grandfather rights.
What are grandfather rights? Anyone who passed their driving test before 1997 is automatically entitled to a C1 licence for a motorhome.
It’s not uncommon for people reaching 70 to decide they no longer require this type of licence. However, if you want to keep the category C1 entitlement, you must undergo a medical. The process of renewing a C1 licence can be expensive and you only retain it for a further three years.
For those who passed their driving test before January 1st 1997, the following licence categories on driving licences apply:
- Category B – vehicles up to 3,500kg, with a trailer up to a MAM of 750kg
- Category B+E – same as Cat B, but with a trailer heavier than 750kg
- Category C1 – vehicles between 3,500kg and 7,500kg along with a trailer up to a MAM of 750kg
- Category C1E(107) – same as C1, but with a trailer over 750kg. However, the total weight of the vehicle and trailer combination must not exceed 8,250kg.
Category C1 and C1E are considered grandfather rights. If you have these on your licence because you passed your test before 1st January 1997, they have to be renewed every three years.
What if you passed your test after 1st January 1997? You will only be licensed for B and B1 categories. This allows you to drive vehicles up to 3,500kg. Vehicle towing is also permitted using a trailer up to 750kg.
Manufacturers try to stick under this weight class which makes it easier for drivers who passed their test after 1997 to purchase such vehicles.
If you want to drive an SUV, campervan, larger motorhome, or heavier vehicles over 3,500kg, you have to obtain a category C provisional licence and then train to pass the C1 driving test. A D4 medical is also required.
To start a C1 training course, you have to be over 18 years old. You also need to hold a driving licence with a category B entitlement. In addition, you have to pass a Heavy Good Vehicle (HGV) medical test.
You can do the medical in several places including your GP or with a private doctor. There is a fee for this test.
You’ll have to discuss your medical history and whether any health condition might impact your ability to drive. While it might be tempting to leave out some details, you could be breaking the law if you fail to state any known medical issues.
The medical also includes a physical examination during which your eyesight will be tested. After passing the medical test you have to be approved by the DVLA and then apply for a provisional C1 licence. Only then can you make arrangements for your C1 training course.
After training, there is an exam that will take one hour. The process is very similar to the standard driving test and is an assessment of your driver skills against specific criteria.
How to renew your C1 licence once you reach 70 years of age?
Around 90 days before you reach the big seven-zero, you’ll get a letter from the DVLA. This informs you of the need to renew your driving licence and includes form D46P which you have to complete.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the letter because your licence automatically expires on your 70th birthday. Driving without renewing your licence is breaking the law.
Renewing your licence is a very simple process. There are organisations that will do all the paperwork for you, but it’s easy to do it by yourself. Follow these steps:
This form is sent through the post by the DVLA. You should receive it 90 days before your 70th birthday. If you don’t want to retain your C1 entitlement, this is the form you complete and return.
Forms D2 and D4
Anyone who wants to keep the C1 entitlement on their driving licence under grandfather rights must order forms D2 and D4 from the DVLA. You can do this by visiting the DVLA website. Form D2 is the application for renewal and form D4 is the medical test. This must be filled in by your GP and there will be a fee to pay.
You must notify the DVLA of any health issues, even pre-existing ones that have worsened. Notifiable conditions include:
- Any heart condition
If you’ve got any medical conditions that may impact your ability to drive, you may have to take further tests. Although the good news is that the DVLA often pays the bill.
In addition, you’ll need an eye test. Because you’re over 60 years old, you’re automatically entitled to a free eye test every two years. One word of caution is that the eye test for a C1 licence renewal application is more stringent than a standard vision test. If you wear glasses, don’t forget to take them along to your appointment. The same applies if you wear contact lenses.
Completing the application
You must complete the form and return it to the DVLA along with your current licence photocard. You must inform the DVLA, using the form, of your medical history and any health conditions or disabilities that might impair your driving ability.
You may need to include a new passport-type photo. However, the form will specify whether this is a requirement.
Applying by post
If you apply by post, you must return the completed form and any additional documentation or photos. It can take up to three weeks for you to receive your renewed licence in the post.
You can also apply for a renewal online using the GOV.UK website. First, you have to register and then follow the step-by-step instructions.
- A valid email address
- Details of the addresses of where you’ve lived for the previous 3 years
- Your National Insurance number
- If you want to change the licence photo, you’ll need a valid UK passport number
When the DVLA receives your documentation, it may require further clarification, depending on the information you supplied. For example, you may have to:
- Give permission to the DVLA to contact your GP or consultant
- Arrange for a specialist or local doctor to examine you
- Take an additional driving test or driving appraisal, or eyesight test
When the DVLA is happy that you’ll be able to drive your vehicle without endangering other road users, it will issue your new licence and you can continue driving according to the licence entitlements.
If you do not complete the C1 renewal and only complete the standard renewal procedure, you forfeit your C1 entitlement. This means you won’t be able to drive an SUV or motorhome with a weight of between 3,500kg and 7,500kg.
Can you drive while your application is with the DVLA?
While the process is usually completed quite promptly, there may be delays sometimes.
According to Section 88 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, you may be allowed to continue driving even though you don’t currently hold a current licence. In practice, this is applicable when you’ve applied to renew your licence, but it expires while your application is being processed.
However, in such cases, you must meet the following criteria:
- Your doctor agrees that you meet medical standards of fitness to drive
- You have held a valid licence and only drive vehicles you’ve applied for on your current application and were previously entitled to drive
- You meet any conditions that applied to your previous licence
- Your completed application was received by the DVLA within the last 12 months
- Your previous licence was not refused or revoked
- You are not currently disqualified
If you’re unsure whether Section 88 applies to you, the best person to discuss this issue with is your healthcare professional or doctor.
Are there any over 70 driving licence restrictions and limitations?
If you’re over 70 and want to keep on driving, you have to renew your licence. You also need to renew it every 3 years after that. The process is free of charge.
If you develop a medical condition or disability that could affect your driving, you must inform the DVLA, even if it’s not yet time to renew your licence. It is your legal obligation to declare certain medical conditions. If you have an accident and you haven’t declared one of the following conditions, your insurance might not cover you.
Some of the medical conditions you must declare include:
- Insulin-treated diabetes
- Chronological conditions such as multiple sclerosis
- Conditions that affect your eyesight
Now you know a little bit more about whether you can drive motorhomes after the age of 70, you should feel much more confident heading out on the road. Just because you’ve reached 70 doesn’t mean you have to forgo a motorhome road trip or two before it’s time to hang up your spirit of adventure.
Can I renew my over-70s driving licence online?
Yes, you can renew your licence online. Renewing it online takes just a few minutes and renewal licences are typically issued within 5 days. When you renew your licence online, you also receive confirmation by email that your application has been received.
How often do I need to renew my licence after 70?
Licence holders are legally required to renew it when they reach the age of 70 and then every three years after that.
How much does it cost to renew my licence at 70?
Renewal is free.
Do I need a new photo for an over 70s licence for driving?
Part of the renewal process is updating your photo every 10 years. When you turn 70, you only need to update the photo once on your licence.
Do I need a doctor’s note to renew my driving licence at 70?
You may need a doctor’s note if there are health issues you need to report.
Do I lose my C1 licence at 70?
If you don’t apply to renew your C1 entitlement, you will lose it when you reach the age of 70.