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29 June 2021

NEWS & INSIGHTSHow much weight am I allowed to tow?

How much am I allowed to tow?

This has been the topic of many debates and often the cause of frustration and confusion. To answer this correctly, three points need to be addressed.

Before we dive in, you also need to understand the following terminology:

The Tare of the trailer is the weight of the unloaded trailer including all its necessary tools, spare wheel etc.

The GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of a trailer is the maximum theoretical loaded mass of the trailer. This is determined by one of the following factors: Brake Capacity, Tyre Capacity, Axle Load Capacity or Coupler Capacity or Trailer Structure Capacity as stated by the trailer builder – which ever is the smallest.

V is the true loaded mass of the trailer. V must be less than or equal to the GVM, i.e. V may not exceed GVM. The payload of the trailer is in fact V – T kg. In an overrun braked trailer V of the trailer may not exceed T of the towing vehicle.

1.     How much weight am I allowed to tow according to my driver’s license?

Have a look at your driver’s license. The code of your license will determine what you are allowed to drive and tow. In South Africa, we switched over to the credit card format for driving licenses in 2000. The codes then also changed: Code 08 was converted to an EB license, which allows the bearer to tow the equivalent of a medium to large caravan.

Should you have passed your driver’s license after 2000, you would have been issued with a Code B license and will not be allowed the same towing permissions as an EB license holder.

B Code Drivers

  • A braked or un-braked trailer, or caravan, with a maximum GVM of 750kg.

EB Code Drivers

  • An un-braked trailer, or caravan, with a maximum GVM of 750kg.
  • A braked trailer or caravan, with a maximum GVM of 3500kg.

If you need to up your towing permission you will need to upgrade your license to an EB code. This, however, will require some effort. Firstly, you will have to rewrite the learner’s license exam and then make an appointment for the driving test. The driving assessment is done using a towing vehicle and trailer and includes a pre-drive safety inspection, yard section and an on-road evaluation.

2.     What is the load capacity of my trailer?

Trailer categories are determined by GVM:

  • Category O1: Trailers with a single axle and maximum payload of under 750kg.
  • Category O2: Trailers with a payload capacity between 750kg and 3500kg.

You will find the Tare and GVM information on your trailer’s data plate. Your load capacity will be:

GVM – Tare = Load Capacity (e.g. 750kg – 200kg = 550kg load capacity)

3.     What is the towing capacity of my tow vehicle?

It is important that the tow vehicle can control the trailer or caravan. The National Traffic Act governs the trailer’s maximum-allowed GVM as a function of the tow vehicle’s tare mass.

  • If the trailer or caravan is unbraked you can only tow up to 50% of the maximum allowable tare weight of the towing vehicle.
  • If the trailer or caravan is braked, you can tow with the maximum allowable weight of the towing vehicle.

Unbraked Trailer

An unbraked trailer’s maximum GVM may not exceed half the tow vehicle’s tare mass up to a maximum of 750kg.


Tare of the Tow Vehicle GVM of an un-braked trailer
1000kg 500kg
1500kg 750kg
2000kg 750kg

Braked Trailer

The GVM of a braked trailer may not be more than the tow vehicle’s tare mass, with a maximum of 3500kg.


Tare of the Tow Vehicle GVM of an braked trailer
750kg 750kg
1500kg 1500kg
3500kg 3500kg

Attention must be given to all three points mentioned above. Your towing vehicle needs to be able to control the trailer or caravan being trailed, and you, the driver, needs to be able to control both the trailing and trailed vehicle. Let’s all stay safe on the roads.

Please Note: In this instance, our explanation and examples only cover B (or EB) license holders, which may not drive a vehicle heavier than 3500kg.

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