The DVLA has just issued updated guidelines on the licence issues involved with driving a minibus.
You may be able to drive a minibus if you hold a car driving licence and follow certain conditions – otherwise you’ll need to apply for a minibus licence.
View the DVLA driving licence information to see what vehicles you can drive.
If the minibus is not for ‘hire or reward’
You may be able to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats using your current car driving licence as long as it’s not for ‘hire or reward’ and there’s no payment from or on behalf of the passengers.
Although taking schoolchildren to a football match may seem far removed from running a commercial operation, where any payment is made, there’s a risk it could be regarded as hire and reward. Payments don’t necessarily have to be fares either. A charge for a day trip or a sub to the football team could be regarded as payment.
As an example take the case of Rout v Swallow Hotels. In this, courtesy coaches were provided to take guests to the train station. Although there was no separate payment, the appeal judges ruled that as the coaches were part of the hotel’s amenities, they were operating on a hire and reward basis.
Steering clear of hire and reward is important. If an organisation is deemed to be operating on this basis it would need a full public service vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence or a private hire vehicle licence. Drivers may also need a passenger carrying vehicle entitlement on their driving licence.
Conditions you must meet
You can drive a minibus within the UK as long as the following conditions apply:
* You are 21 or older
* the minibus is used for social purposes by a non-commercial body
* you have had your driving licence for at least 2 years
* you meet the ‘Group 2’ medical standards if you’re over 70 – check with your GP if you’re not sure you meet the standards
* you are 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 more than 3.5 tonnes – or 4.25 tonnes including specialist equipment for disabled passengers, e.g. a wheelchair ramp
* you are not towing a trailer
You held a driving licence before 1 January 1997
You can drive a minibus in the UK and on temporary visits abroad.
When your car licence is next renewed at the age of 70, you’ll need to re-apply for your entitlement and meet higher medical standards.
You’ll need to order and complete a D2 application form and print off and fill in a D4 medical examination report. Read the D4 guidance notes.
Minibus permit – if you need to charge running costs
You can apply for a minibus permit if you need to charge passengers, as long as:
* you’re 21 or older
* the vehicle can carry between 9 and 16 passengers
* you’re driving it for a voluntary organisation that benefits the community – e.g. an educational, religious or sports organisation
* the minibus service is only available for members of that organisation – not to the general public
* any charges are to cover running costs and are not for profit
Apply for a minibus permit from your local authority, or contact DVSA.
Driving a minibus for profit
If you want to drive a minibus commercially, or if the above conditions don’t apply, you’ll need to apply for a minibus provisional entitlement, also known as a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence.