Can Everybody Drive A Minibus?

Can Everybody Drive A Minibus?

It seems most drivers have a vague idea about the rules for who can drive a minibus. Some believe it depends on the weight of the vehicle, some say it’s the age of the driver and some say it depends on when you passed your driving test. There is truth in all of these theories – here is Rivervale’s guide to who can drive a minibus …

Whether you can drive a minibus or not depends on the categories shown on your driving licence. The categories are listed in a secret code of letters and numbers … to drive a minibus you will need to see D1 listed in your categories.

If you passed your driving test for a manual car before January 1st 1997 then this code will already appear on your licence meaning you can drive vehicles with;

  • No more than 16 passengers seats
  • A maximum length of 8 metres
  • A trailer up to 750kg
  • You may NOT drive for hire or reward

Anybody who is lucky to be young enough to have passed their driving test after January 1st 1997 WILL NOT have the D1 category listed their licence. You can still drive a minibus, but BE WARNED the following conditions apply;

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You must have held a full UK driving licence for a minimum of 2 years
  • You MUST NOT tow a trailer
  • You must only be driving the minibus on a voluntarily basis
  • The maximum weight of the vehicle must not exceed 3.5 tonnes, if there is a passenger lift or ramp attached this weight restriction rises to 4.25 tonnes.

If you do not have the D1 category licence, or you are driving a minibus outside of these conditions, for example exceeding the weight restrictions, you will be driving without a valid driving licence and so therefore without insurance as well.

If you are charging money for the journey in the minibus then you must apply for your PSV (Public Service Vehicle Operators Licence, for which further training will be needed to pass a theory and practical test at your own cost. After gaining this addition to your licence you would also need to pass your Driver Certificate of Professional Competency.

So would teachers who drive pupils in a minibus if they have asked for parents to pay for the cost of the journey need to take these extra tests?

NO! There is yet another set of rules that mean you can drive a minibus, where money has been taken for the journey without a PSV licence … by getting a section 19 permit.

A section 19 permit is available for drivers without the PSV category on their licence to drive a minibus within these criteria;

  • If the vehicle carries between 9-16 passengers
  • It is an organisation that benefits the community e.g a school or religious group
  • The minibus is only in use for the members of the organisation, not members of the public
  • Charges made are solely for running costs and NOT TO MAKE A PROFIT
  • The driver will be 21 or over

This means a school who is taking out a group of children and has asked parents or another outside source to cover the costs of travel can apply for a section 19 permit allowing a person without a PSV on their licence to drive the minibus.

Schools must be 'not for profit' in order to obtain a 'section 19 permit'. All Government state schools are like this and the majority of Independent schools are registered as charities to get around this issue. If a school hasn’t got charitable status then they are classed as 'for profit'. In this case a school must have a PSV licence, or they can have the standard B car licence but can only carry up to 9 passengers maximum.

Details of how to apply for a section 19 permit are available on the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency website.

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