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Permissions to drive

Here we outline the licence requirements for driving a minibus-type vehicle. You may be able to use your standard car licence – this depends on whether you’ll receive payment in any form for the journey. Please contact us if you are at all unsure.

The following information is only a guide and for best advice please visit the following ROSPA document here.

Not for ‘Hire or Reward’

Providing you’re not driving for payment or payment in kind, you may be able to use your current car driving licence.

If you obtained your full car driving licence before 1 January 1997:

  • You may drive a minibus in the UK because your licence includes category D1.
  • If your licence has the code 101 next to D1 you may only drive a minibus that is not operated for ‘hire or reward’, unless it is operated under a section 19 permit.
  • Your entitlement to drive a minibus remains valid until your licence expires. However, if you renew your licence (for example, because you change address) you must apply to keep the D1 entitlement on your new licence.

If you obtained your full car driving licence on or after 1 January 1997:

  • You can only drive a minibus if you have a category D1 Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) entitlement on your driving licence.
  • To gain category D1 entitlement, you must:
  • Complete DVLA form D2
  • Ask a doctor to examine you, and then complete and sign DVLA form D4
  • Send the completed D2 and D4 forms to the DVLA
  • When you receive your licence from the DVLA showing your provisional D1 entitlement, take the theory PCV test and the practical PCV driving test
  • Send your pass certificate and licence to the DVLA, who will add your full D1 entitlement on your driving licence (do not drive a minibus unaccompanied until you receive your new photocard licence showing your D1 entitlement).

But, if you are a ‘volunteer driver’ you can drive a minibus on your car licence if:

  • You are 21 years or over, but under 70 years
  • You are 70 years or older, have renewed your licence and passed a PCV medical test
  • You have held your full car driving licence for at least two years
  • You do not receive any payment or consideration for driving the minibus, other than out-of pocket expenses (e.g. fuel and parking costs)
  • The minibus is being used by a non-commercial body for social purposes, but not for hire or reward (unless it is operated under a Section 19 Permit (Section 10B in Northern Ireland)
  • The minibus does not exceed 3.5 tonnes or 4.25 tonnes if specialised equipment for disabled passengers is included (the additional weight can only be for the specialised equipment)
  • You do not tow a trailer.

If the minibus is being used under a section 19 permit, the permit disc must be displayed in the windscreen, visible from the outside.

Need to charge running costs?

If you need to charge passengers for running costs you can apply for a minibus permit (known as a ‘Section 19 permit’). This allows certain organisations, including schools, to make a charge without having to comply with the full public service vehicle operator requirements and without the need for the driver to have a full PCV Category D1 or D, licence. There are provisos as follows:

  • the driver is 21 or older;
  • the vehicle can carry between 9 and 16 passengers;
  • you’re driving it for a voluntary organisation that benefits the community – for example an educational, religious or sports organisation;
  • 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.

You can apply for a minibus permit from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

For ‘Hire or Reward’

If you’ll be driving the minibus for payment or payment in kind, you’ll need a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) operator licence. This will enable you to:

  • operate a vehicle for hire or reward (payment or payment in kind) that can carry 9 or more passengers;
  • operate a smaller vehicle carrying passengers and charging separate fares for the journey.

You will also need to ensure your licence covers the required vehicle Category (D1 for minibuses) – the full listing can be found here.

Types of PSV licence

There are 4 types of PSV licence:

  • Standard – national operations only: for operating in Great Britain only;
  • Standard – national and international: allows you to drive passengers abroad too;
  • Restricted: for small scale operations, 1 or 2 vehicles, neither with more than 8 passengers. Or, you can carry up to 16 passengers if it’s not as part of a passenger transport business, or it’s a sideline and not your main job;
  • Special restricted: for taxi drivers.

Full details of PSV licences can be found here:

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