Caravan Laws in the UK

Whether you’re planning on taking your caravan out on the road or storing it at your property, there are a number of caravan laws in the UK you should be aware of.

Here, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know and give you the essential information to keep up to date with Britain’s caravan laws.

Do I need a special licence to tow a caravan?

No, you don’t need a special driving licence to tow a caravan. You will, however, need a legal UK driving licence as you would when driving any car. According to when you passed your driving test, there are strict variations on the load that you can tow.

For more information and to understand exactly what you can tow, read our guide on the legalities of towing a caravan.

Can you park a caravan on the road?

Yes, it’s possible to park a caravan on the road, although the law isn’t always that clear on when it is and isn’t acceptable – it’s something of a grey area!  

The main considerations from a legal point of view is that it doesn’t cause an obstruction, or it isn’t parked dangerously. If you do either of these things, your caravan will be judged to be parked illegally, and it will need to be housed elsewhere. If you do decide to park your caravan on the road, you’ll need to ensure that you do so as considerately as possible for the other residents in your street.

You must make sure you do the following:

  • Ensure that the caravan is lit at night
  • Park it with the nearside facing the pavement so the rear lights are at the rear and visible for approaching traffic

Is planning permission required to store caravans?

You don’t need planning permission to store a caravan in your garden or on your drive. However, you may need to secure planning permission if you keep it on your property anywhere other than these places.

In some instances, caravans parked on farmland may require different planning permission, as will caravans parked on a large piece of land that includes a protected nature area, even if you own the land.

If you are using a touring caravan as a completely self-sufficient home, and not as an extension of your current home, then you will need planning permission.

Can I store a caravan in my garden or on my property?

Yes, you are able to store your caravan in your garden or on your drive. Although it’s important to check with your local council to ensure that your housing permissions allow for it, as in some urban areas it won’t be allowed. You will also need to consider whether it causes an obstruction for your neighbours or the traffic in the street.

To be able to store it on your property, your caravan will also need to meet the UK definition of a touring caravan, specifically:

  • A habitable structure that can be moved
  • Maximum dimensions of 20m long, 6.8m wide and 3.05m tall

To be kept on your property, your touring caravan will also need to be used as a temporary extension of your home and not as a completely separate dwelling.

Can caravans be kept on agricultural land?

It’s possible to keep touring caravans on agricultural land, but you may need planning permission. If you plan to do so, it’s always worthwhile seeking the advice of your local council.

Can I live in my caravan in my back garden?

It isn’t possible to live in your caravan in your back garden if it’s being used as a completely self-sufficient and separate home. Having two separate dwellings on the same land would require planning permission.

Your caravan can be used as an extension of the main home, for example as an extra bedroom, but it will need to be used by the same people that occupy the main house. If the land is currently empty and you’re building a property, you can live in your caravan as a temporary main dwelling.

Can you tow a caravan with a leased car?

Yes, you can tow a caravan with a leased car. Currently in the UK, around 86% of new private cars are bought by leasing, meaning a high proportion of these are likely to be used to tow caravans. In fact, many car dealers advertise the suitability of specific models to do exactly that.

If you’re looking to lease a car and will be using it to tow your caravan, it’s very important to understand the maximum towing capacity of the model you’re planning to lease.

What about towing caravans with a hire car?

Again, this is possible, meaning that you can tow a caravan with a hire car. When enquiring about hiring a car it’s crucial that you speak to the car hire company and let them know that you plan to tow a caravan.

You’ll need to make sure that you understand the maximum towing capacity of the car and ensure it’s suitable to tow your caravan.

Can passengers ride in a caravan when it’s being towed?

No, passengers aren’t allowed to ride in a caravan when it’s being towed. This is illegal and is an extremely reckless thing to do, as it could endanger your life and the lives of your passengers and other road users.

It’s so vital to ensure that your caravan is stable at all times when it’s being towed. Any unexpected shift in weight could potentially cause a lethal accident. The caravan itself will offer little in terms of protection and safety for the passengers, with no seat belts and air bags, which can be life-threatening in the event of a crash.

Is there a maximum length for towed caravans?

The maximum length for a towed caravan or trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg is seven metres, not including the A-frame.

Becoming a caravan owner is a worthwhile and rewarding pursuit. Just remember the importance of having a full understanding of the law and the need to keep up to date with any changes that may impact how and where you store your caravan, and how you can tow it on the road.