There have been lots of enquiries on this subject so I thought I’d better clarify the situation.
As of January 19th 2013 the new ‘staged’ licensing system comes into affect.
NB. See the ‘Motorcycle & Trike Licensing’ section of this web site for more detailed information on staged licensing for motorcycles.
How will it affect trikes?
As of January 19th 2013 Trikes will become part of the Motorcycle licence category. (Currently they come within the Car Category).
For people who hold existing full car licenses (category B) prior to January 19th 2013, nothing changes. (New licensing rules cannot be backdated).
After January 19th 2013 only people with disabilities, who have officially notified the DVLA of their disabilities; will be permitted to ride trikes on a provisional licence and/or take a test on a trike.
(This dispensation is greatly due to consultations between the NABD and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) including the submission of a very detailed report by the NABD Chairman relating to the use of trikes and sidecar outfits by disabled people).
NB. The correct form for notifying the DVLA of a disability is here:
Do not surrender your licence when you send in this notification, the DVLA will let you know if they require you to send your licence to them for any reason. If you are required to send your licence in to DVLA for any reason, we recommend you keep a good photocopy or scan of both sides of your licence.
For disabled people wishing to take a test on a trike after January 19th 2013 they will have to complete a CBT course (slightly amended to suit trikes) prior to riding on the road.
To gain a full licence they will also have to do the motorcycle theory test and then the practical test (Mod 1 test is also slightly adapted to suit trikes; i.e. less cones and no avoidance manoeuvre, use of reverse if one is fitted, etc.)
Contrary to popular misconception, it doesn’t matter if a trike has a car engine or a bike engine. Nor does the weight of a trike make any difference to licensing. All trikes will now fall into the Category A licence.
The DVLA policy people have now confirmed that people who hold a current (issued prior to 2013) provisional licence which states B, or B1 do in fact have "grandfather rights" on their provisional status for the duration of that license.
(Obviously old paper licenses last until the age of 70 but photo licenses last 10 years before requiring renewal and we are informed that upon renewal this grandfather entitlement will be lost).
So to put it in a nutshell: People with a pre 19/01/2013 provisional licence which states B, or B1 are not required to complete a CBT course to ride a trike on L-Plates.
A disabled person taking a test on a trike will qualify for a licence restricted to trikes. It will not qualify them to ride solo motorcycles or drive cars.
Able-bodied people who don’t hold a full car licence prior to January 19th 2013 will have to pass a motorcycle test, on a solo motorcycle, before they can ride a trike. (Those who already hold a motorcycle licence will by default be able to ride trikes).
There is no change to the dispensation that allows disabled people to use a motorcycle and sidecar combination to take a motorcycle test, though this would also result in a licence restricted to motorcycles fitted with sidecars.
Trikes and motorcycle/sidecar combinations used for CBT, training and tests are not subject to the power output or power to weight ratio restrictions detailed in the new staged licensing directive.