Can I Drive a Minibus

Hiring a minibus is a brilliant solution if you need to travel with a larger group. Offering space for everyone to travel in one vehicle, it works out lower in cost than choosing other transport options. However, many people are often left confused over the rules of who can drive a minibus. At North London Van and Truck Hire Ltd (NLVTH), this is a question we often get quizzed about as we offer a fleet of top-quality minivans for hire across the UK.

Minibuses are a brilliant solution for reducing the number of vehicles on our roads, which is reflected in the 13.8% growth seen in their sales in the past year. In this article, we will share everything you need to know about minibus hire in terms of who can legally drive one. We will also explore the different licence types available plus share some insights on how you can choose the best minibus to hire for future needs.

What Type Of Licence Is Needed To Drive A Minibus?

The reason that minibuses are classed as vehicles that require different driving considerations is because they are larger in size and therefore need top skills to handle them. Driving a car is different to managing a minibus in many ways such as road positioning, undertaking manoeuvres and being able to access certain locations. Therefore, to keep the roads safe the government has set out a defined set of rules for driving minibuses. This includes the type of licence that the driver holds.

To drive a minibus, the licence holder must have a D1 entitlement. For anyone who passed their car driving test before January 1st 1997, this will be automatically included on a licence. A D1 licence allows for a maximum of 16 passengers, a vehicle length of no more than 8 metres to be driven and allowance to tow a trailer with a maximum weight of 750g. However, for anyone who took a test after this date, driving a minibus is still allowed in some specific scenarios, which we have included in this article.

There have been many calls for a reform on this in recent years as the government admits it does need to be easier for people to secure the correct licences for the purpose of saving fuel and supporting communities. However, the licence change was not passed at the most recent opportunity in February 2024 so the rules will not likely change for a while yet.

It’s essential to understand what type of licence you need to hold to hire and drive a minibus as you will need to show proof of having the correct permissions before a company will lend you a vehicle.

When Can a Minibus Be Driven Without a D1 Entitlement?

When Can a Minibus Be Driven Without a D1 Entitlement?

Although those who passed their tests before January 1st 1997 can drive and hire minibuses with ease, concerns arise from those who do not fit this criterion. However, we are pleased to inform you that there are still rules in place to allow drivers to successfully run a 9 to 16-seater minibus. These stipulations are only in place above 9 seats, meaning that any vehicle with eight seats or less can be driven normally with a complete UK driving licence.

Driver Conditions

To drive a minibus, you must be 21 years of age. This is to ensure that full insurance can be in place for the driving period. Furthermore, a full driving licence must have been held for at least 2 years. This demonstrates a prolonged driving experience, which offers more chances for the driver to be able to handle the responsibility of managing a larger vehicle.

It should also be noted that if the driver is older than 70 years of age, they will also need to meet group 2 medical standards. These standards assess the fitness of somebody to drive when applied to professional settings. However, they are required for anyone who wants to hire a minivan due to the added need for safety.

Use Of The Vehicle

Drivers without a D1 mark on their licence can also do so if they are only using the vehicle for certain situations. All circumstances must be voluntary and for social purposes. Towing of a trailer is also prohibited as is charging passengers for the journey.

Weight Of The Minibus

Another stipulation is the overall weight of the minibus. This matters as more specialist driving skills will be needed for heavy vehicles. However, as long as the weight of the minibus doesn’t weigh more than 4.25 tonnes of carrying equipment (such as wheelchair ramps), drivers without a D1 mark can still proceed. It should also be noted that the total weight without specialist equipment is 3.5 tonnes.

How Can You Get A D1 Minibus Driving Licence?

If you don’t meet the rules we have shared in the above section and need to apply for a D1 minibus licence, you can do so by applying to the DVSA. You can apply for this permit as long as the following is correct:

  • You need to drive a minibus vehicle that will carry between 9 and 16 passengers, with seating provided for each. This may also include equipment and accessories.
  • Any charges are made to cover running costs, not for profit i.e business purposes.
  • The minibus will only include specific audiences, such as members of an organisation, and not general members of the public.
  • You must be older than 21 years of age and have held your standard driving licence for more than 2 years.

If you wish to drive a minibus for business purposes and you wish to make a profit, you must apply for both a minibus provisional entitlement and a public service vehicle operator licence. The process also involves a theory test which comes in two parts as medical clearance from a medical professional is required. Also, a 90-minute practical driving test is required which must have an adequate amount of pass marks to succeed in.

Purposes for Driving a Minibus and Licence needs

How Many People Are You Taking?

If you are looking to drive for hire or reward, such as managing clients, you will need a PCV licence. This means that under no circumstances can the activity occur with a standard licence, even if you have a pre-1997 D1 entitlement. However, if you are serving the community via volunteering, you can do so with a standard licence as long as the rules we have outlined above are correct.

Standard driving licences can also be used for purposes such as social outings, transporting large families and for non-commercial bodies such as schools. When hiring a minibus, you will need to ensure the provider has relevant insurance in place, plus you will likely need to prove how you intend to use the vehicle so that the supplier can ensure it’s being used for the correct purposes.

What Services Do North London Van And Truck Hire Ltd Offer?

At NLVTH, we are proud to offer an extensive minibus hire service which means you can always source the perfect vehicle travel needs. From taking friends and family on a road trip to supporting charities with volunteer services, as this article has confirmed with a full driving licence you can undertake many tasks in a minibus. Our team can help you decide what van is best to hire along with finding a solution that is ideal for any minibus hire budget available.

Are you looking to purchase a minivan? If hiring is not something you want, we can still help facilitate sourcing the perfect vehicle. Check out Herts and Essex Van Sales to see a plethora of minibuses suitable for a range of different needs.

By understanding the rules that surround driving a minibus, the process can be completely stress free! If you want to learn more about NLVTH, check out our terms and conditions or contact our team.