A minibus is an ideal vehicle for getting around in large groups. Whether you have a large family or are looking to travel with a large group of friends, it’s important to first understand the law is regarding minibus driving.
Do I need a driving licence to drive a minibus?
You can drive a minibus with a standard B car driving licence in the UK. There are, however, different restrictions on the size, capacity and weight of the minibus depending on when you first received your licence.
Under UK law minibuses are only considered to be vehicles with 9 to 16 seats. Smaller vehicles like 8 seater cars aren’t considered minibuses, and under most situations are legal to drive on standard car licences.
Driving licences awarded on and after 1 January 1997 do not automatically have the D1 entitlement, which is the full minibus licence. You might still be able to drive a minibus without the D1 entitlement, but you and the vehicle you want to drive will have to meet certain requirements. You need a D1 driving licence to drive a minibus if you don’t meet the requirements listed below.
Whether you have a D1 licence or not, you are not allowed to carry passengers for profit without a PSV and a PCV licence. Read on to learn what types of minibus you can drive now, whether you need to upgrade your driving licence category and what to do if you need to charge your passengers.
Can I drive a minibus with a B licence?
If you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997
You do not automatically have the D1 entitlement on your licence. However, you can still drive anything from a 9 seater minibus up to a 16 seater as long as the following conditions are met:
- You’re at least 21 years old
- You’ve had your driving licence for at least 2 years
- You’re driving voluntarily
- You’re driving for social purposes
- You’re not charging passengers
- The weight of the minibus does not exceed 3.5 tonnes, or 4.25 tonnes if it carrying equipment for disabled passengers, such as a wheelchair ramp
- You’re not towing a trailer.
If you’re over 70 years old, you will also need to meet Group 2 medical standards.
If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997
Your driving licence is likely to include the D1 entitlement already, but with the ‘nfhr’ restriction. The ‘nfhr’ (Not For Hire or Reward) restriction means that you are not allowed to charge passengers in your vehicle.
Check the back of your licence or the DVLA website to see if you already have the D1 entitlement. If you don’t, the same rules as for new licences will apply, but if you do have it, see the section below to see what the rules are for D1 licence holders.
Can I drive a minibus with a D1 licence?
The category D1 licence is the comprehensive minibus licence. With a D1 licence you can drive any minibus or other vehicle that falls under these limits:
- No more than 16 passenger seats
- A maximum length of 8 meters
- You can have a trailer with a maximum weight of 750kg.
If you want to drive a vehicle that fits these guidelines and you don’t have a D1 licence yet, you will have to get one. To do this, you will need to get medical clearance from your GP, pass a two-part theory test, as well as passing a 90 minute practical test while driving a category D car. Taking classes from a professional driving instructor is recommended to pass the practical test in one try, and it’s also a good idea to find D1 past papers to study beforehand for the theory test.
Can I charge passengers?
Whether you have a D1 licence or not, you are not allowed to charge the passengers in your minibus without applying for extra permits.
If you’re driving the minibus for a voluntary organisation (such as a sports team or religious group), you can charge passengers to cover running fees with a minibus permit. To get the permit you will need to fill out an application form and send it to the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).
A minibus permit is not applicable if you want to make a profit out of driving your minibus. In that case, you will need both a PCV licence and PSV licence.
- A Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence is required to be a qualified bus, minibus or lorry driver.
- A Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence is required to carry passengers in a vehicle in return for payment.
Whether you’re transporting your family for free or passengers for payment, you must have up to date insurance. Adrian Flux offers minibus insurance to suit most needs.