Can I Drive a 16 Seater Minibus on a Car License?

You can drive a minibus on a car licence under a Section 19 Permit provided you meet certain criteria including; being 21 or older, holding your licence for over 2 years, the vehicle GVW is 3500kg or under, and you're not receiving payment to do so.

D1 entitlement on your licence is required if any of the conditions are not met.

Conditions of driving a minibus on a car licence under a Section 19 Permit

Organisations in certain sectors such as education, and registered charities, can apply for a Section 19 Permit so they can operate minibuses and charge their passengers, without an Operator's Licence, but they must only be looking to cover the cost of operations as opposed to making a profit.

All drivers of a vehicle operated under a Section 19 Permit must be 21 or over. If you were issued a full category B licence (car, not automatic) before 1 January 1997 you were given D1(101) entitlement, so you can drive a minibus with up to 16 passengers, with no 3500kg weight restriction, and be paid to do so.

Drivers who passed their car test on or after 1 January 1997 were not granted D1 entitlement. Category B entitles them to drive a small bus but only if all the following conditions are met:

  1. They have held a full category B car licence for at least 2 years
  2. They receive no payment or other consideration for driving other than out-of-pocket expenses
  3. The vehicle has a maximum gross weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes (4.25 tonnes including specialised equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers)
  4. For drivers aged 70 or over, that they don't have any medical conditions which would disqualify them from eligibility for a D1 licence
  5. No trailer is being towed
  6. Where the driver's licence only authorises the driving of vehicles with automatic transmission, that only a vehicle with automatic transmission is used

Drivers aged 70 or over who don't meet the higher medical standards are not authorised to drive small buses. They can drive small vehicles being used under a permit, provided they have renewed their car licence.

(Source: 9.1 Driving entitlement requirements.

Are teachers receiving payment or other consideration when driving a minibus.

The DVSA gives the following information with the caveat that ‘this advice does not constitute legal advice nor is it a ruling on the law: individual, schools etc should seek independent legal advice on these issues if they have any queries or concerns’

‘A minibus is not being used for hire or reward… where the pupils are not obliged to pay in exchange for the right to be passengers. This applies where independent schools with charitable status, free schools and academies use a minibus not for a passenger service on a commercial basis but to take pupils off-site for trips within the school day or as an extra-curricular activity, where the pupils do not pay for their transport.

‘Independent, fee-paying schools which lack charitable status could be viewed as commercial bodies that operate minibuses for hire or reward; the hire or reward element being school fees. We advise such schools to seek legal advice.

‘In our view, if a teacher’s contract of employment does not state that driving minibuses is part of their duties and they receive no additional payment for driving a minibus to take pupils on trips or to social sporting events (except for reimbursement for out of pocket expenses), they will be driving on an extra-contractual, voluntary basis. In this case, the category B licence would suffice.

‘We consider social purposes to mean non-commercial activities. This includes school trips and travel to sporting fixtures within the school day or as an extra-curricular activity.’

Read the full guidance here (

The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel states that:

‘The Department for Education, Department for Transport and Association of Chief Police Officers have issued advice* which states that there are certain circumstances when a teacher driving a minibus can be regarded as acting as a volunteer, but this advice is not definitive and has not been tested in the courts.

Employers should study the most recent government guidance, take legal advice if they have any queries or concerns, and provide a clear policy. If teachers or other employees are permitted to drive as volunteers on a category B licence, then they should receive appropriate training.

Some employers do not permit employees to drive a minibus on a category B licence, even in circumstances when they might be regarded as volunteers. If you do not hold a D1 or D entitlement, you should check your employer’s policy if you are considering driving a minibus.

* see

As the OEAP and the DVSA advises seeking specialist advice, that is what Rivervale did in 2020. We consulted a specialist transport solicitor who informed us that in their opinion:

‘teachers who are driving on behalf of their employers, even if they ‘volunteer’ to do so are considered to be driving for payment as part of their employment. It is not enough that driving is not specified in their contract. ‘Other consideration’ could also be applied if teachers are ‘volunteering’ for extra-curricular activities that include driving a minibus to improve their chances of promotion, their standing within the school or enhance their CV.’

Other county councils including Hertfordshire County Council have sought legal advice on this issue and the advice is similar.

‘If you drive for your employer, your licence must include category D1.This includes teachers and school staff, during the school day or out of hours. That’s because you’re at work, being paid and your journeys are official business.

‘There is an exemption for volunteers without D1 on their licence. However, our legal advice is that this exemption does not apply to teachers and school staff.’

So, what is the answer?

If you have a vehicle with a GVW over 3500 kg, and/or you pay your drivers then the answer is simple – they require D1 entitlement, either inherited or by taking the full D1 test.

But, if you have vehicles with a GVW of 3500kg or under, and feel the circumstances of your organisation and school trips fit within the DVSA’s descriptions; that pupils are not obliged to pay in exchange for the right to be passengers and the trips are for social purposes (sporting fixtures and extra-curricular activities) and your staff are driving on an extra-contractual, voluntary basis – then you may decide that a B1 licence is sufficient. But, we encourage you to ensure your drivers are adequately trained and that they are fully aware of their responsibilities.

As with the DVSA we do not intend to give definitive or legal advice, only present what our research has found. If in doubt, please contact a specialist solicitor or seek clarity from the DVSA.

If you require more information on Section 19 Permits, D1 entitlements and licences and minibus compliance please call on 01896 253744 or email

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