Can I Drive A Minibus?

Minibuses can carry a minimum of nine passengers and a maximum of 16, plus the driver. Many people come to us asking whether they can drive a minibus on their standard driving licence. The answer depends on your licence.

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A minibus can be driven non-commercially (not for hire or reward) by any person who holds a Category D1 qualification on their driving licence.

This qualification was granted automatically to all licences issued prior to 1st January 1997 but with the Restriction Code ‘101’ meaning ‘not for hire or reward’.

If your licence was issued to you after this date, then you will not have been granted this qualification and you will need to take further tests. You can request further information on the application process here (apply for the D2 pack and download the D4 form) or there are a selection of companies who will help and guide you through the process and offer training too.

You might be able to drive a minibus ‘not for hire or reward’ if you hold a Category B car driving licence and meet certain conditions - otherwise you’ll need to apply for a minibus licence.

Which of these conditions match your current needs?

View your driving licence information to see what vehicles you can drive (you will need your driving licence number, national insurance number and your post code).

If the minibus IS NOT for ‘hire or reward’

You might be able to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats using your current car driving licence so long as there is no payment from or on behalf of the passengers (meaning it’s not for ‘hire or reward’).

Conditions you must meet:

You can drive a minibus within the UK as long as the following conditions apply:

  • you’re 21 or older
  • you’ve had your driving licence for at least 2 years
  • you meet the ‘Group 2’ medical standards if you’re over 70 - check with your GP if you’re not sure you meet the standards.
  • you’re driving on a voluntary basis and the minibus is used for social purposes by a non-commercial body
  • the maximum weight of the minibus is not more than 3.5 tonnes - or 4.25 tonnes including
  • specialist equipment for disabled passengers, e.g. a wheelchair ramp
  • you’re not towing a trailer

If you wish to drive a minibus and do not qualify for the derogations above, then you will need to take further tests to gain this qualification.

If the minibus IS for ‘hire or reward’

You will need a PSV operator’s licence if your vehicle is designed or adapted to carry nine or more passengers and payment is taken for carrying passengers (this is called ‘hire or reward’).

Definition of ‘hire or reward’:

Hire or reward is any payment in cash or kind which gives a person the right to be carried, regardless of whether or not that right is exercised. It is also regardless of whether or not a profit is made.

The payment may be made to the operator, the driver or any agent or representative acting on behalf of the operator.

The payment may be made by the passenger, or on the passenger’s behalf; It may be:

  • a direct payment (e.g. a fare) or
  • an indirect payment (this could be an exchange for services such as a membership subscription to a club, payment for a bed in a hotel, school fees or payment for concert tickets where travel is included; the payment does not have to be money and the right to travel does not need to be taken up).

If the above describes how you will be operating your minibus, then click here for further information and guidance on PSV operator licencing.

If you need to charge running costs

Section 19 bus permits

You can apply for a bus permit if you need to charge passengers, as long as:

  • the vehicle can carry between 9 and 16 passengers
  • you’re driving it for a voluntary organisation that benefits the community
  • the minibus service is only available for members of that organisation - not to the general public
  • any charges are to cover running costs and are not for profit

Who can apply for a permit?

Any organisation operating without a view to profit, concerned with:

  • Education
  • Religion
  • Social welfare
  • Recreation (standard permits only)
  • Other activities of benefit to the community

Links and information available at:

GOV UK

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