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Learning to Drive a Tractor UK

Does your work involve driving vehicles that common licence categories do not include? If so, you must have the correct licence to drive tractors or to operate specialist vehicles (e.g. mowing machines).

This section explains what licence entitlements you will need to have when learning to drive a tractor or specialist vehicle. Extra information covers minimum age limits and the special rules for test vehicles.

What are the Driving Licence Requirements?

The regular car driving test results in a category B on a driver licence. That means the holder would have entitlement to drive:

  • Agricultural tractors (which are category f)
  • Mowing machines or pedestrian-controlled vehicles (category k)

So, you must have the correct full licence for all other driving licence categories (e.g. to drive a tractor or special vehicle on the road).

The first step is to apply for the appropriate provisional driving licence entitlement. Following that you would need to pass a driving test relevant to the tractor type or the specialist vehicle.

Driving Licence Exemptions

Other than driving quad bikes on the road, there is no licence requirement to drive or to operate certain kinds of specialist vehicles, such as:

Driving Road Rollers or Tracked Vehicles

You would need to hold a full category B car licence, that also has provisional entitlement for licence categories G and H, to drive:

  • Road rollers (category G)
  • Tracked vehicles (category H)

Important: A different section explains the proper procedure of adding higher categories to your driving licence.

Age Limits to Drive Specialist Vehicles

  • Licence category F: Minimum age to drive agricultural tractors is 16/17*
  • Licence category G: Minimum age to drive road rollers is 21**
  • Licence category H: Minimum age to drive tracked vehicles is 17/21***
  • Licence category K: Minimum age to drive mowing machines or pedestrian-controlled vehicles is 16

Conditions attached:

*As a sixteen year old, you can only drive tractors that are less than 2.45 metres wide and tow trailers that are less than 2.45 metres wide with 2 wheels, or 4 wheels close-coupled (close together).

**The vehicles must be small road road-rollers with metal or hard rollers if you are aged between 17 and 20. The vehicles cannot be steam powered, weigh over 11,960kg, or made for carrying loads.

***The Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of the vehicle cannot be more than 3,500kg if you are aged between 17 and 20.

Rules for Driving a Tractor at 16

In fact, once you reach 16 you can get a provisional licence to drive a tractor or a specialist vehicle. But, you must wait until you are 17 years old to practise driving them on a public road.

Note: An exception to the age rule will apply if you are driving the vehicle to (or from) your practical driving test.

A qualified driver must be with you if the vehicle had a passenger seat when it was manufactured. But, you must not remove passenger seats from these types of vehicles while practising driving.

Practising Driving a Tractor or Specialist Vehicle

You must display the correct size L plates (L or D plates in Wales) when practising driving a tractor or specialist vehicle on public roads. You must also make sure the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition and has insurance.

Using an Approved Driving Instructor

Learning to drive a tractor or specialist vehicle can be similar to learning to driving a car (e.g. 2 front seats, the controls). So, in some cases, you can use an approved driving instructor (ADI).

The driving instructor might need to walk alongside the vehicle as you practice. They can call out advice to you if the vehicle only has space for one person on board.

Note: The short video [4:55 seconds] shows young teenagers learning to drive a John Deere tractor in Northern Ireland.

Driving Tests for Tractors

The type of driving test that you would need to complete for driving agricultural tractors and specialist vehicles varies according to the type of vehicle.

Category F, G, H, or K Vehicles

During the test you will get your instructions from an examiner standing at the side of the road. They will watch your driving to see how you:

  • Drive the vehicle around left and right circuits.
  • Turn the vehicle around using the forward and reverse gears.

The examiner may walk close by to watch you driving a very slow vehicle (e.g. a pedestrian-controlled vehicle).

At the end of the driving test for category f, g, h, or k vehicles, you will also be asked:

Category H Driving Tests

You would need to drive the vehicle backwards, and then turn it around (using its tracks), so that it faces in the opposite direction when taking category H driving tests. The examiner would give you more information on how to make this manoeuvre.

Required Documents for the Test

You will need to take (either):

  • A valid, signed photocard driving licence from United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, or EU member state.
  • An old-style valid, signed United Kingdom or Northern Ireland paper driving licence (with a valid passport).
IF DVSA Cancels the Test

Note: You can apply for a refund of out-of-pocket expenses for a cancellation at a short notice (less than 3 clear working days).

Rules for the Test Vehicles

Any vehicle used in the test will need to meet certain rules and restrictions. The licence category will determine which rules they need to comply with.

Category B1 (quadricycles and light 4-wheeled vehicles)

Only people who are registered as disabled can take a driving test on a category B1 vehicle. In this situation, the vehicle must:

  • Be able to reach a driving speed of 37mph
  • Weigh a maximum of 550kg (unladen weight)
Category F (tractors)

This category includes certain types of tractors with two (2) or more axles that have been built for off-road agriculture or for forestry work.

Category G (road rollers)

If you are between the ages of 17 and 20, the vehicles must be small road rollers with metal or hard rollers. To meet the rules of the test they vehicles cannot:

  • Be steam powered
  • Be made for carrying loads
  • Weigh more than 11,690kg
Category H (tracked vehicles)

Licence category H vehicles need have adequate all-round visibility. It must allow the driver to conduct certain types of driving manoeuvres and to handle road junctions in a safe manner.

You cannot use any vehicle for a category H test if it needs a second person to help with observation of the road (e.g. a military vehicle).

Category K (mowing machines or pedestrian-controlled vehicles)

You must be at least sixteen (16) years old to use a mowing machine if it is a specialist ride-on grass-cutting vehicle with permanent cutting equipment.

You do not need a licence to operate a pedestrian-controlled vehicle where the operator walks with it but does NOT ride on it.

Learning to Drive a Tractor or a Specialist Vehicle in United Kingdom