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Can I drive a minibus on a car licence?

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January 25, 2023
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Whether you have a large family or are looking to travel with a group of friends, it’s important to be familiar with the laws around driving a minibus.

This blog answers the most common questions people ask about driving a minibus.

What counts as a minibus?

A minibus is a vehicle with between nine and 16 seats. If a vehicle has fewer than nine seats, it counts as a car.

Can I drive a minibus on a standard car licence?

This will depend on when you passed your driving test. For those who passed before the 1st January 1997, you’ll likely automatically have the D1 entitlement on your licence This means you can drive minibuses under certain circumstances. as below.

Those who passed on or after the 1st January 1997 will not automatically have a full minibus licence, i.e. the D1 entitlement, but they can still drive minibuses in certain situations, which are detailed below.

Can I drive a minibus if I passed my driving test before 1st January 1997?

Your driving licence is likely to include the D1 entitlement already, but with the not for hire or reward (‘nfhr’) restriction. The nfhr restriction means 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 if I passed my driving test on or after 1st January 1997?

For those who passed after the 1st January 1997, you will not automatically have the D1 entitlement on your licence, but you can still drive anything from a nine-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 is 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.

What is the D1 minibus 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 metres
  • You can tow a trailer with a maximum weight of 750kg

Can I drive a minibus without a D1 licence?

Driving licences awarded on or after 1st 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 strict criteria depending on when you passed your driving test.

How do I get a D1 minibus driving licence?

If you want to drive a vehicle that requires a D1 licence and you don’t have one yet, you’ll have to get one. To do this, you’ll have to get medical clearance from your GP, pass a two-part theory test, as well as pass a 90-minute practical test while driving a category D vehicle.

Taking classes from a professional driving instructor is a good way to help you pass the practical test, and it will be helpful to swat up on past papers for the D1 theory test.


Can I drive an eight-seater minibus on a car licence?

Minibuses seat nine to 16 people so an eight-seater minibus is actually a large car. This means that yes, you can drive an eight-seater “minibus” on a normal car driving licence.

Can I drive a nine-seater minibus on a car licence?

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, a vehicle is only considered to be a minibus when it has nine to 16 seats. Smaller vehicles like eight-seater cars aren’t considered minibuses, and, in most circumstances, it is legal to drive them on standard car licences.

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, religious group or social club), you can charge passengers to cover running costs but you will need a minibus permit.

To get the permit, you will have to fill out an application form and send it to the DVSA.

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.

What insurance do I need to drive a minibus?

Whether you’re transporting your family for free or passengers for payment, you must have up to date insurance. Adrian Flux offers specialist minibus insurance to suit most needs. Call 0800 369 8590 or book a callback for a swift no-hassle quote.

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