Rules for Towing a Boat on a Trailer in SA

Why should I care about rules for towing a boat?

You love taking your family out on holidays and usually tow a trailer home or drag along a boat. Therefore, you need to acquaint yourself with the latest towing guidelines.

Ignorance will be no defence if you are in violation of these regulations. You could face a steep fine or find yourself unable to process an insurance claim following a road incident.

That many South African motorists find themselves on the wrong side of these guidelines is unsurprising. That’s because the regulations change often and appear online without any announcement.

Rules for Towing a Boat – Does your driving license permit you to tow?

To be on the safe side, you need to be sure that your driving license permits you to tow the kind of object Rules for Towing a Boatyou wish to take for your holidays. In the past, holders of any kind of driving licenses could by default tow some kinds of trailers. This may have been the case about 10 years ago but not any more.

You now need to have a licence specifying the kind of trailer you may tow in addition to the kind of vehicle you can drive.

Rules for Towing a Boat – What do the towing regulations state?

South Africa’s driver licensing system changed in 2000 to bring it in line with international standards. The move saw all basic licenses classified as Code B and more advanced licenses changed from Code 8 to EB. Code B licenses encompass bakkies and light passenger cars.

Rules for Towing a Boat – The Regulations

The regulations stipulating the trailers different kinds of vehicles you may tow as stated by the AA (Automobile Association) are as follows:

  • Code EB license holders may tow trailers heavier than 750kgs with light vehicles. The trailer can have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of not more than 3.5 tonnes.
  • Code B license holders can only tow trailers when fully loaded
  • Overrun brakes must be a feature in trailers of GVM 3,500kg and above.
  • A trailer must not carry more than its GVM and any car and trailer, fully loaded, must not weigh more than the Gross Combination Mass stipulated by its manufacturer.


Rules for Towing a Boat – Does the weight of my car matter when towing?

Specific regulations have also been laid out regarding the weight of the vehicle towing the trailer. A trailer of 750kg or more, for instance, cannot be towed by a vehicle with a tare weight of less than 1500kg (twice the weight of the trailer). This is the case for ordinary Code B license holders.

Code EB licensees are allowed to tow a trailer the same weight as the trailer, provided the trailer has parking and service brakes. The National Road Traffic Act provides more rules and regulations that govern towing. It covers the towing of unique kinds of loads, towing multiple trailers, speed limits and the transport of passengers among other details.

What is required for Code B licensees to obtain Code EB licensing? You need to sit the written exam and then retake the practical driving test, proving your ability to safely tow a load.

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All info was correct at time of publishing January 19, 2018