Before getting behind the wheel of a minibus, there are a few things you need to check to ensure that you’re keeping on the right side of the law – firstly that your driving licence meets the criteria to drive one.


In this article, we’ll help you understand what the law is regarding minibus driving, as the official wording can sometimes mean that it’s less than clear.


As well as holding the correct driving licence, you’ll also need some minibus insurance. Here at Taxi Insurer, we take the time to understand you, your vehicle and what you usually use it for, so we can find the right minibus insurance policy for you, at our most competitive rates. But more on minibus insurance later.


First, let’s answer the question of whether you can drive a minibus on a normal licence.



Does my licence allow me to drive a minibus?


A minibus travelling at speed through a town


Before we start, it’s a good idea to have your driving licence in hand. Then, as we go about outlining the law, the reference points should make more sense.




The entitlements you have listed on your driving licence come down to when you passed your driving test. The important date here is 1st January 1997.


If you passed your driving test after this date, you don’t automatically have the D1 entitlement, which allows you to drive a minibus without having to meet a list of conditions.


However, don’t despair just yet. You might still be able to drive a minibus without the D1 entitlement, it’s just that you have to ensure that you stay within the guidelines as outlined in UK law.


If you don’t meet those conditions – and you don’t have D1 entitlement – you won’t be able to drive a minibus without taking an additional test.


Whether you have D1 entitlement or not, you’re not allowed to transport passengers for profit without a PSV and a PCV licence. To find out what types of minibus you can drive now, whether you need to seek D1 entitlement and what to do if you need to charge your passengers, read on.



If you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997


A new driver handing L plates back to her instructor


As we’ve already stated, if you passed your driving test on or after this date, you won’t see ‘D1’ in section 9 (Entitlement categories) on your driving licence. Nor will you see a date next to the D1 section on the rear of the card.


However, as long as you meet the conditions below, you can still drive anything from a nine-seater minibus up to a 16-seater:


  • You’re at least 21 years old
  • You’ve had your driving licence for at least two years
  • You’re driving voluntarily
  • You’re driving for social purposes
  • You’re not charging passengers
  • The minibus doesn’t exceed 3.5 tonnes in weight, or 4.25 tonnes when it’s carrying equipment for disabled passengers like wheelchair ramps
  • You’re not towing a trailer


If you’re over the age of 70, you will also need to meet the ‘Group 2’ medical standards in which your GP has confirmed you’re fit to drive.



If you passed your driving test before 1st January 1997


A set of UK driving licenses


Things are a little more straightforward if you passed your test before 1st January 1997. As long as the D1 entitlement is present and correct on your driving licence, you can legally go ahead and drive a minibus.


However, you still won’t be able to charge passengers for your services. The NFHR (Not For Hire or Reward) restriction means that you’re not allowed to charge passengers in your vehicle, no matter how entitled to payment you might feel for giving up your time.


The category D1 licence is the comprehensive minibus licence that allows you to drive any minibus or other vehicle as long as:


  • There are no more than 16 passenger seats
  • It has a maximum length of 8 metres
  • If you have a trailer, its maximum weight does not exceed 750kg


Please note: If you don’t have a D1 licence yet and you want to drive some of the larger minibuses, you might have to apply to add the higher category to your diving licence.


To do this, you will need to get medical clearance from your GP, pass a two-part theory test and take a 90-minute practical test while driving a category D car.



What do I need to do if I want to charge passengers?


A minibus parked outside of a bus station


Regardless of whether you have the D1 entitlement, you are not allowed to charge passengers without applying for extra permits.


If you’re driving the minibus for a voluntary organisation (such as an educational organisation), you can charge passengers to cover costs with a minibus permit. To get the permit you 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 drive a minibus commercially. That being the case, you will need both a PCV licence and PSV licence.




Driving a minibus abroad

Finally, if you’re planning to cross country boundaries and drive a minibus abroad, it’s down to the respective incensing authority in the country you’re visiting to decide whether you can or not. Make sure you’ve reached out to the right body in advance of your trip for clearance.



Take out some minibus insurance cover

In order to drive a minibus legally, you need to ensure you’re covered with minibus insurance.


Policies arranged through Taxi Insurer can cover a wide range of vehicles and uses from private occasional use, to frequent use for a range of groups and organisations including schools, charities, churches, scout groups and sports clubs.


Call our specialist team today and let us help find the cover to suit your individual needs.