Who can drive a minibus?

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 or license you need.

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

It’s important to note that this blog is a guideline only; laws can change regularly, so be sure to contact your local transport authority or the DVLA if you’re unsure of anything.

Can I drive a minibus under a normal car license?

In the UK, drivers who obtained their licence before January 1st 1997 will have a D1 entitlement already. That means they’re allowed to drive a minibus under their normal licence. 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 also meet 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 3.5T, or 4.25T if specialist equipment for disabled passengers is required

Note that a regular license only allows you to drive minibuses with up to 16 passenger seats.

So what do I need a minibus licence for?

If you don’t meet any of the above conditions, you’ll need to apply for a license.

You’ll also need to apply for a licence if you are going to drive a minibus ‘for profit’, that is, charging passengers to ride and making a profit from this. In either of these cases, you’ll have to apply for:

  1. A minibus provisional entitlement, also known as a passenger-carrying vehicle (PCV) licence

  2. A public service vehicle (PSV) operators licence

Driving Licence

And what about a minibus permit? When do I need one of those?

If you are charging your passengers money, but only to cover running costs and not to make a profit, then you’ll need to apply for a minibus permit instead. You’ll have to be 21 years or older to apply for this, and your minibus can only carry up to 17 passengers. You’ll have to apply for your permit through the DVSA.

What age do I have to be to drive a minibus?

As mentioned before, if you want to drive a minibus on your car license, then you have to be at least 21 years old. Otherwise, you’ll have to apply for a special licence. There are also further criteria and forms you’ll need to fill out if you’re over the age of 70.

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.

Stock Minibus Event

As mentioned earlier:

  • If you’re charging for passengers and taking a cut, then you’ll need a special minibus licence.

  • If you’re charging but not taking a cut, then you’ll just need a 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 we listed at the start.

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

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