Can I Drive a Minibus?
There are numerous laws and guidelines that affect your ability to drive a Minibus in the UK, below details the licensing position of drivers of minibuses not used for hire or reward. It also explains the position for holders of Minibus and Community bus permits.
I hold an ordinary license issued before 1st January 1997
If you had entitlement to drive cars prior to 1 January 1997 – shown as group A (B for automatics) on an old style licence or as category B and D1 not for hire or reward on a new style licence – you can drive a minibus provided: The minibus has a maximum of 17 seats including the driver’s and is not being used for hire or reward.
To drive a minibus which has 9 or more passenger seats for hire or reward you will normally need passenger carrying vehicle entitlement (PCV) (category D1 or D). To get this you must meet higher medical standards and take a further driving test.
Hire or reward encompasses any payment in cash or kind by (or on behalf of) passengers which gives them a right to be carried.
However, if you drive a minibus for an organisation under the Minibus or Community bus permit scheme, you will NOT need a category D1 or D licence even if a charge is made to passengers – see section 3 for further details.
New Rules from 1st January 1998
Your minibus entitlement will remain valid in the UK and on temporary visits abroad until your licence is next renewed at the age of 70. When this happens your minibus entitlement (category D1 and D1+E not for hire or reward) can only be issued if you make a special application which will involve meeting higher medical standards.
If your minibus entitlement is renewed you will normally be granted a category D1 and D1 + E licence for 3 years which will allow you to drive minibuses, not for hire or reward, in the UK and on temporary visits to other EC/EEA countries. See page 4 for more details about driving abroad.
If your minibus entitlement is not renewed, categories D1 and D1 + E will no longer appear on your licence. However, if you are aged under 70 years, you may still be able to drive minibuses in certain circumstances. The rules explained in section 2 will also apply to you.
Drivers whose licences are due for renewal will receive advice about these new procedures with their renewal reminder letter.
Medically Restricted Licenses
In general, car licences have to be renewed when drivers reach the age of 70 but younger drivers with restricted medical licences will also be affected by the new rules when their licences are first renewed.
If you have a medically restricted licence you should note that you can still drive non-commercial minibuses on a voluntary basis without being subject to the higher health standards until you reach the age of 70.
Will Licenses be Accepted Abroad?
Yes, during temporary visits to other EC/EEA countries, but please note that under permit (see section 3), minibuses used for hire or reward cannot be driven outside the United Kingdom unless the driver has passed a test for category D1 or D.
Drivers who become permanently resident in another EC/EEA country may find that their entitlement to drive category D1/D1+E (not for hire or reward) minibuses may not be acceptable. Advice should be sought from the licensing authority of the new country with the exception of Northern Ireland which will accept all GB entitlements.
I hold a Category D license without minibus entitlements
If your car licence does not allow you to drive minibuses, there are certain circumstances where you may still be able to do so.
You may drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats provided;
- You drive on behalf of a non-commercial body for social purposes but not for hire or reward (unless operating under a permit);
- You are aged 21 or over;
- You have held a car (category B) licence for at least 2 years;
- You are providing your service on a voluntary basis
- The minibus maximum weight is not more than 3.5 tonnes excluding any specialist equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers. Minibuses up to 4.25 tonnes will be permitted in certain circumstances (see below); and (vi) you do not tow a trailer.
Note: There is no specified method of calculating the weight of specialist equipment such as tail lifts or wheelchair security fittings, but there is an allowance of 750kg for the extra equipment for minibuses which are intended for the carriage of passengers with disabilities or wheelchair users.
This would cover minibuses with a weight of 4.25 tonnes and would be comparable with the weight threshold which new drivers of cars/light goods vehicles are permitted to drive. When driving a minibus under these conditions you may not receive any payment or consideration for doing so other than out of pocket expenses or tow any size trailer; you may only drive minibuses in this country.
Drivers aged 70 or over will need to make a special application which involves meeting higher medical standards.
Minibus and Community Bus Permits
Minibus and Community bus permits are issued to organisations concerned with education, religion, social welfare, recreation or other activities of benefit to the community.
Further information is available in the booklet ‘Passenger Transport Provided by Voluntary Groups’ available from Traffic Area Offices.
Minibus permits allow certain organisations to make a charge without having to comply with the full public service vehicle operator licensing requirements and without the need for their drivers to have PCV (category D1 or D) entitlement. The services must be provided for their own members or for groups of people whom the organisation serves. The service must not be provided to members of the general public and the charges made must be on a non-profit basis. Community bus permits are issued to bodies wishing to run a local bus service on a voluntary non-profit basis using unpaid volunteer drivers. Members of the general public can be carried in the minibus.
Drivers who first held a licence to drive cars prior to 1 January 1997 will continue to be able to drive minibuses under the Permit Schemes provided their entitlement to drive minibuses (category D1 – not for hire or reward) remains in force.
Drivers who first held a licence to drive cars after 1 January 1997, and the drivers referred to above who have not renewed their minibus (D1 – not for hire or reward) entitlement, may drive a permit minibus provided the conditions at section 2 are met.
The permit arrangements apply only in the UK – you cannot take a permit minibus abroad if it is used for hire or reward unless you hold either PCV category D1 or category D entitlement.
Download the PDFs below for extra information about running and maintaining a Minibus.