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Driving a tractor on roads worldwide: what changes from country to country?

Most of the time, our tractors and agricultural machinery operate in the fields, at the farm or on unsurfaced roads. However, one cannot do without facing shorter or longer travels on public roads - maybe just to move from one field to another, or from the shed to the working area. In these cases, we must remember that the tractor becomes an actual means of transport and road traffic regulations apply. But what do these rules consist in exactly? Is it necessary to have a special traffic permit for farming machinery on the road? Is a special driving license needed? The situation varies according to local legislation. Jump on board of your vehicle and follow us on this short trip around the world to see what changes from country to country.

Let us start from the United States, where driver’s licenses are issued with slightly different rules by each state, but commercial licenses follow a standardized federal system. Basically, everything  is a question of weight: anyone having a regular car driving license can easily drive an agricultural vehicle in the fields or on the road, as long as it is below 11 tons. If the vehicle weight exceeds this limit, a CDS, a Commercial Driver's License is mandatory. A similar system is adopted in other countries such as Australia, and New Zealand. The same rule goes for the United Kingdom where even 16-year-old minors can drive a tractor or farming vehicles in the fields without a class B driving license.  

In other UE countries, the situation is slightly different. In Italy, for instance, a regulation has recently come into force making a license for professional equipment compulsory. Tractor and agricultural machinery operators must hence attend a training which includes three lessons in class and five practical ones.

In France, the rule is based on the profession of the person driving a tractor. If he/she is a professional operator - farm owner or employee, council operator – no document is necessary except the regular class B driving license. In all other cases, it is necessary to obtain a C1E license if the weight of the agricultural vehicle is between 3.5 and 7.5 tons, or the CE license if the means weights over 7.5 tons.

In Germany, the distinction is based on the vehicle class. With a class B driving license, one can drive “smaller” tractors up to a maximum speed of 40 km/h. For larger agricultural machinery reaching speeds of 60 km/h, however, the integration of a Class T driving license is mandatory.

And what about your Country? Which rules apply there? Tell us how it works and we will use your advice to keep this article updated. Thanks a lot!

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