Our ultimate van guide

Choosing a van for your business

New to all things van? Here are some answers to a few of the questions you may have…

Do I need a special licence to drive a van?

Not usually. A standard UK driving licence allows you to drive any vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg with up to eight seats. In fact, if you passed your test before 1997, you can normally drive anything weighing up to 7,500kg.

Your driving licence will show you which categories of vehicle you're allowed to drive. Category B covers vehicles weighing up to 3,500kg, and category C covers those up to 7,500kg. To drive these heavier vehicles professionally, however, you need a qualification called the driver certificate of professional competence.

Your van also has a maximum it's allowed to weigh when loaded - called the design gross weight, gross vehicle weight or laden weight - so you need to ensure you don’t overload it. This includes everything you're carrying – passengers and goods.

What's the speed limit for a van?

Outside built-up areas, the speed limits for vans are sometimes lower than for cars: 50mph on single carriageway roads and 60mph on dual carriageways. Vans are allowed to do 70mph on the motorway unless they are towing a trailer, in which case they can only do 60mph.

Car-derived vans – vans which have been adapted from cars, and have a maximum laden weight of no more than 2,000kg – have the same speed limits as cars.

What do the different types of van mean?

Panel vans: usually have one row of seats and no side windows at the back. Their main purpose is to carry cargo.

Crew vans: panel vans with a second row of seats (so the load bay is a bit smaller). Also called double cab vans.

Luton van: a van with an enclosed load area behind the cab which extends over the top of the cab, providing additional storage space.

Curtainside van: a van whose sides are made of canvas curtains, usually fitted over a metal frame, which can be drawn back to allow easier loading.

Tail-lift van: a tail-lift is a mechanical platform at the back of the van which lifts heavy goods inside.

Low-loader: a low-loader has, well, a lower load area, usually about 50 to 55cm from the ground, for easier loading.

Pick-up trucks: these have an open-air cargo area.

What size van do I want?

When you're choosing a van for your business, obviously you want it to be big enough for your needs, but not too big. Smaller vans will be easier to manoeuvre – the shorter the wheelbase, the tighter the turning circle – and offer better fuel economy. A longer wheelbase can mean a smoother ride, but this is very much dependent on the individual van. Height is important too – the advantage of a van less than 2m high is that you can normally take it into a multi-storey car park.

If you'd like to test drive one of the used vans for sale at used van dealers Vanwise Group, have a look at our website to see what we have for you, and call us at our Kent dealership on 01622 233151 or our Essex dealership on 01279 216163. Ask us about our vans on finance and van contract hire offers too.