Do you need to know if you are legally allowed to drive a minibus? Many school staff and volunteers can drive a minibus on a car licence, but you’ll need to ensure you meet the following guidelines.
What is a minibus?
The Driver Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA) classifies a vehicle with between 9 and 16 passenger seats as a category D1 vehicle, better known as a minibus.
Drivers who hold a vocational D1 (or D) Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence can drive minibuses for hire or reward*.
Drivers who passed the Category B (car) test on or after 1 January 1997
In order to drive a category D1 minibus on a non-D1 car licence, your legal entitlement depends on when you passed your category B (car) driving test. These allowances in the law were brought into force by the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999, allowing certain individuals to drive “out of category” in specific circumstances.
You are permitted to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats that is not being used for hire or reward*, as long as the following conditions are also met:
- You are 21 or older
- You have held a category B licence for at least 2 years
- 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 above 3.5 tonnes, or 4.25 tonnes if specialist equipment is fitted to make it wheelchair accessible e.g. a wheelchair ramp or hydraulic lift
- You meet ‘Group 2’ medical standards if you’re over 70 years old. If you are unsure if you meet the required standards, check with your GP
- You do not tow a trailer with the minibus
- Driving abroad – You may be able to drive a minibus abroad, check with the licensing authority in the country you will be visiting for advice
Drivers who passed the Category B (car) test before 1 January 1997
You are legally able to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats with no weight restriction that is not used for hire or reward*, if the following conditions are also met:
- Your driving licence entitlement includes the code D1 (101)
- Your D1 entitlement has not been removed – usually it expires at age 70 and it can also be removed by the DVLA for medical reasons
- Drivers with a D1 + E (101) entitlement can tow a trailer over 750kg
Minibus Permit scheme (Section 19)
If you need to charge passengers, you can apply for a minibus permit (referred to as a ‘Section 19’), as long as:
- The vehicle can carry between 9 and 16 passengers
- You are driving for a voluntary organisation which benefits the community e.g. an educational, religious or sports organisation
- The minibus service is only available to members of the corresponding organisation, not members of the public
- Charges are to cover running costs and not for profit
*What is ‘hire or reward’?
In simple terms, a vehicle is used for hire or reward if a direct payment (such as a fare) is made by a passenger in return for travel, regardless of whether the minibus operator is a profit-making entity or not. However, hire or reward also includes an indirect payment so long as there is a clear and logical link between a payment and transport provided e.g. a hotel collection service.
Not for hire or reward: An independent school with charitable status, Free School or academy using a school minibus to take pupils off site for trips within the school day or as an extra-curricular activity, where pupils do not pay for the transport would likely not be operating for hire or reward**
Seek further advice: Independent, fee-paying schools with no charitable status can be viewed as a commercial bodies, that operating minibuses for hire or reward, with the payment being school fees. Minibus world are industry leaders in supplying minibuses you CanDrive on a category B car licence, with up to 16 passenger seats and the option of wheelchair accessibility.
If you would like any further advice on whether you can drive a minibus, don’t hesitate to call our friendly team of minibus experts on 01782 444289.
**Minibus World is not able to provide legal advice, and as this legislation has not to our knowledge been tested in court, any drivers seeking further clarification should contact the DVLA