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What are the rules and requirements for driving minibuses?

The rules for driving minibuses are confusing and often misunderstood. There are plenty of organisations who claim to offer help and advice, but beware; these are often specialist training companies offering D1 training who have a vested interest in selling you their services.

Although training and compliance is a very important part of our offering, the D1 category on your licence is not always required to be able to drive a minibus. We believe that advice should be given in good faith and with no hidden agenda, so in this section we will outline the current advice as we see it and give you links to the relevant official websites that support this view. Not-for-profit organisations (not for hire or reward ) who operate minibuses under a Section 19 Permit or a  Section 22 Community Bus Permit (Section 10B for Northern Ireland) are generally covered by the following advice:

D1 Licence Regulations

Drivers who passed their car driving test before 1st January 1997 will usually have a D1 (101) minibus, (not for hire or reward) entitlement on their driving licence.  This remains on their licence until it expires when a driver reaches the age of 70, unless it is removed by the DVLA or DVA for Northern Ireland, generally on medical grounds. Even though the licence restriction says ‘not for hire or reward’ these licence holders can usually drive a minibus operated under a Section 19 / 22 / 10B (explained below) permit without any additional conditions. 

Drivers who passed their driving test on or after 1st January 1997 are not automatically given the D1 entitlement on their licence.  They can however drive a minibus provided that they comply with all of the following conditions:

  • The driver must have held a full B (car) licence for at least two years.
  • The driver is aged 21 or over. 
  • The driver is aged under 70 (unless the driver has passed a PCV Medical).
  • The driver receives no payment or other consideration for driving the vehicle other than out-of-pocket expenses.
  • The vehicle weighs no more than 3500kg (maximum authorised mass) or 4250kg if the vehicle has equipment to allow easier accessibility such as a passenger lift to allow the carriage of disabled passengers.
  • Trailers of any weight are not allowed.
  • The conditions that tend to cause most misunderstanding within organisations relates generally to the vehicle weight restrictions and what is meant by “expenses”. 

The restrictions on out-of-pocket expenses are usually understood to mean that the driver is a volunteer (often the case in charities).  However, there is an opinion that where a driver does not have minibus driving as part of their job description or contract of employment and they receive no extra payments as a result of their driving duties (as is often, but not always the case with teachers and school staff), they could be considered to be meeting the condition set out above.  It is worth highlighting the fact that this scenario and opinion has not been tested in a court of law but has been accepted by most of the voluntary sector.But take note: Most local authorities have very clear internal guidelines relating to this subject and it is important that you check the rules and guidelines from your own governing authority as they often differ from area to area.

If any of the above conditions cannot be met, then the driver will need to pass a second driving test specifically in a minibus. This is very similar in format to the regular car test but specifically designed to cover minibuses and includes the requirement for a medical test, theory, hazard perception and practical test.  This will then gain them a full PCV, D1 entitlement.  

It’s worth pointing out that most 17 seat minibuses are over 3500kg (maximum authorised mass) and as such will require the D1 category on the licence, but there currently are some that are under this weight and do not require this category. If you want to know more please call us for free advice on this subject.

Marshall Leasing’s minibus contract hire service includes 10 driving licence checks which can confirm if your drivers are authorised to drive a minibus. It is important to check this and your local authority rules and regulations prior to allowing someone to drive a minibus.

Please take note: for organisations that operate under a PSV Operators Licence the rules are very different and usually all drivers are required to have a full, unrestricted D1 entitlement on their licence.  This will also have to include Driver CPC (certificate of professional competence) training. 

If you are still unsure if you are able to drive a minibus, whether that is for school, the care sector or just general transport, call our friendly and helpful team.

To have your query resolved, call 01480 220444 or you can email us at Alternatively, you can fill out our online enquiry form and we will reply as soon as we can.

Useful links:

General Guidance

Information regarding Section 19 and 22 permits

Community Transport Association

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The Forum, Ermine Business Park, 

Lancaster Way, 



PE29 6XU


01480 220444


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