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What Do Driving Licence Codes and Categories Mean?

Understanding the Driving Licence Format

The UK driving licence codes typically consist of two parts: a letter and a number. The letter represents the category of vehicle you're allowed to drive, while the number indicates any restrictions or additional permissions.

The Front Numbers:

  1. Your Surname.
  2. Your First Name(s)
  3. Your date of birth and country of birth.
  4. 4a. Driving licence issue date. 4b. Driving licence expiry date.
  1. Your driving licence number.
  2. Though this is not labelled on your licence, number 6 consists of your photo.
  3. Your signature.
  4. The address your licence is registered at.
  5. The different categories you are eligible to drive. (We go into more detail below).
Driving Licence Example
Driving Licence Example

Decoding the Letters.

On the front of the licence, number 9 shows the type of vehicles you are permitted to drive. It is often in the format of AM/B/BE/f/k/q etc. These go into more detail on the rear of the licence.

The letter portion of your driving licence code specifies the type of vehicles you're allowed to operate. Here's a breakdown of some common categories:

  • B: This is the standard category for cars. If your code starts with a 'B', you're licensed to drive cars, including those with manual or automatic transmissions.
  • C1, C, CE: These categories are for larger vehicles, such as trucks and lorries. The specific category determines the size and weight of the vehicle you can drive, with C+E allowing you to drive articulated lorries.
  • D1, D, DE: If you see these letters, it means you're licensed to drive buses and minibuses. Again, the category determines the size and passenger capacity of the vehicle.
  • A, A1, A2: Motorcycle enthusiasts will be familiar with these codes. They indicate the type and power of motorcycles you're permitted to ride, with A granting the broadest privileges.

Unravelling the Numbers

Following the letter, you might encounter a number, which provides additional information or restrictions related to your driving entitlements. Here are some examples:

  • 1: This number often indicates that the driver requires glasses or contact lenses while driving.
  • 101: If you see this number, it signifies that you're a learner driver and must be accompanied by a qualified driver.
  • 115: This code is for drivers who need to use modified controls on their vehicle due to a disability.

Putting It All Together

Now that we've deciphered the individual components, let's see what a complete driving licence code might look like. For instance, if your code reads "B", it simply means you're licensed to drive cars. However, if it says "B1", it could indicate that you're authorised to drive lightweight vehicles or that you need glasses or contact lenses while driving.

Why It Matters

Understanding your driving licence code is crucial for ensuring that you stay compliant with the law and operate vehicles safely and legally. Whether you're renting a car, applying for a job that requires driving, or simply updating your licence, knowing your entitlements can save you from potential headaches and legal issues down the road.

Those seemingly random letters and numbers on your UK driving licence hold a wealth of information about your driving privileges and any associated restrictions. By decoding these codes, you can gain a clearer understanding of what vehicles you're allowed to drive and any special requirements you might have. So, the next time you glance at your licence, take a moment to decipher the code—it might just come in handy someday.