Tips for hiring a van

In general, panel vans are available in three sizes.

Small Vans These vans are usually the same size as large family cars, and offer between 3.0 to 4.4 cubic metres of cargo space. Small vans can carry up to 1,000kg. They have a sliding side door, and rear barn doors that open 180 degrees. The metal bulkhead of high-spec small vans has a loading hatch that makes it easy to transport long items up to 2 or 3 metres.

Medium vans These have a maximum load of up to 8,3 cubic metres, and a payload ranging between 1000 kg- 1500 kg. The typical load length for a medium van is 2.5 or 3.5 metres. This can be achieved by installing a bulkhead hatch, which allows the driver to use the space underneath the passenger seat. Most medium vans have three seats at the front.

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Big vans These vans are the heavyweights in the van industry. They can provide up to 17 cubic metres of cargo space, and payloads that range from 700 kg to 3,100 kg. Be warned that the largest vans can reach three metres high and eight metres long. This means that they require a lot of space to park, load and unload. For Van Hire Bristol, visit

Check your driving licence

Can you drive a van on a car licence? The answer in most cases is yes. However, the date of your test will determine the type of van you are allowed to drive.

With a standard UK full driving licence (category A), you can drive a rigid axle van weighing up to 3.5 tons. Most drivers are able to drive light vans using a standard car licence.

You may be able to drive heavier, larger vehicles up to 7.5 tons if you passed before January 1997 (the back of the driving licence will confirm this). After that date, anyone who has passed their driving exam must pass a second test to be able to drive larger vans weighing more than 3.5 tons.

Electric vans are the only exception. The maximum mass allowed for someone with a category B licence – i.e., one who has a standard vehicle licence – is 4250 kg. This is due to the weight of the battery packs that make electric vans heavier than their diesel counterparts.

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Choose a reputable van hire firm

Try to hire a van only from a company that is a part of the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association. This is an association for firms that rent vehicles, lease them and manage fleets.

The BVRLA members are bound by a code that ensures customers receive fair treatment and a high standard of service.

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