Who Can Drive a Minibus? A Beginners Guide

Classed as a passenger vehicle that can carry between 8-16 passengers, a minibus is a convenient and highly adaptable form of transportation. However, there can be lots of confusion around the legalities of driving a minibus, particularly when it comes to who can drive one, and what kind of permit and license you need.

In this guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know about being a minibus driver in the UK.

It’s important to note that this article is a guideline only; it is not meant to give definitive or legal advice. Organisation’s circumstances differ and laws can change, so be sure to contact your local transport authority, the DVLA, or a solicitor if you’re unsure of anything.

Can I drive a minibus on a normal car license?

If you are driving for a commercial company that looks to profit from their operations then a PCV or PSV Operator’s licence is required to operate and a drivers require full D1 entitlement and CPC training.

But, under a Section 19 Permit (replaces the need for an operator’s licence) you can drive a minibus on a car licence provided certain conditions are met by the driver and the vehicle.

In the UK, drivers who obtained their licence before January 1st 1997 will have inherited D1 entitlement. That means they’re allowed to drive up to 16 passengers (without the 3.5 tonne weight restriction) on their car licence and be paid to do so.

Those who passed their driving test after this date can still drive a minibus with a standard B driving licence, but they’ll have to meet all the following criteria:

  • Being 21 years or older
  • If you’re over 70 years old, meeting Group 2 medical standards (check with your GP if you’re not sure)
  • Having your driving license for at least 24 months
  • Driving for ‘non-commercial’ purposes (in other words, you’re a volunteer driver)
  • Not towing a trailer
  • Driving a minibus that doesn’t weigh more than 3.5 tonnes, or 4.25 tonnes if specialist equipment for disabled passengers is required

Section 19 Permits explained

If you are charging your passengers money, but only to cover running costs and not to make a profit, then you can apply for a Section 19 Permit instead of a PSV Operator’s Licence. You’ll have to be 21 years or older to apply for this, and your minibus can only carry up to 16 passengers. You’ll have to apply for your permit through the DVSA.

What if I’m over 70?

If you’re over 70 years old, then you can still drive a minibus. Just make sure that if you’re renewing your licence you order a D2 application form. You’ll also need to order a D4 medical examination report and get your doctor to complete it. You can order any of these forms on the DVLA forms page.

What about insurance?

As per the Road Traffic Act 1988, all vehicles being driven in the UK have to be insured against third-party risks. As minibuses are larger vehicles and carry more passengers, coverage can be costlier. If your minibus is being driven by several different drivers, you can insure it for this. Generally. There are different levels of insurance coverage offered, including:

  • Third-Party Only  - A basic level of coverage that only protects you from other vehicles on the road. That means you’re not covered for any other damage to the vehicle.
  • Third-Party Fire and Theft  - This offers basic insurance with the addition of coverage for fire damage and theft
  • Fully Comprehensive Insurance - The highest level of coverage which protects you from everything above as well as accidental damage

What am I allowed to use my minibus for?

From special education programmes to religious services as well as community and sports events, Minibuses can be used for all kinds of different purposes. What you’re allowed to drive for and under what licences and permits depends on whether you are driving commercially or not for profit.

As mentioned earlier:

  • If you’re charging for passengers and making profit, then you’ll need a PSV operator’s licence
  • If you’re charging but only to cover your costs, then you’ll need a Section 19 Permit
  • And if you’re driving as a volunteer, then it's OK to do so on your car license, provided you meet all the other conditions including the vehicle weight, your age and your ‘volunteer’ status.

At Rivervale, we’ve got a broad selection of brand new minibuses for leasing that meet all the latest safety standards, suitable for everything from education and sports to community events.

From short term minibus rentals to minibus driver training, we’re your experts at the wheel when it comes to anything related to small to medium-sized passenger transportation.

Please call on 01896 253744 or email minibus@rivervale.co.uk for more information.

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