Can I Drive A Minibus?
The question we are asked most often at Minibus World is "Can I Drive a Minibus?" And, in many cases, the answer is "yes!".
Customers also ask us: "What Size Minibus Can I Drive?" The laws dictating whether you can legally drive a category B licence minibus with 8 passengers or a category D licence minibus with between 9 and 16 passenger seats may appear complicated, as they depend both on the licence entitlements you hold and what the minibus will be used for.
But don't worry, read this article and you should soon know if you can legally drive a minibus*. Alternatively, call our friendly team of minibus experts on 01782 444289 and we'll be more than happy to offer our guidance.
Did you pass your test before 1 January 1997?
You may drive a category B licence minibus with up to 9 seats and weighing up to 3.5 tonnes and you can also drive a D1 minibus over 3.5 tonne and up to 17 seats.
Your category B driving licence should automatically have a D1 (101) entitlement, which allows you to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats, that is not being used for hire or reward, with an upper weight limit of 12,000kg for a vehicle and trailer combined. However, the following guidelines should still be considered in order to decide what size minibus you can drive:
- Check on your photocard licence or by entering your details into the DVLA website that a category D1 (101) entitlement is present on your licence
- Your D1 (101) entitlement expires when you are 70 years old, or can be withdrawn (usually for medical reasons) by the DVLA (DVA in Northern Ireland) at any time
- If your category B licence has a D1 + E (101) entitlement, you can tow a trailer weighing over 750kg
Did you pass your test on or after 1 January 1997?
You can drive what is generally known as a category B licence minibus. You might also be able to drive a Lightweight Minibus with up to 16 passengers, which is not being used for hire or reward, so long as you meet all the following criteria:
- You are at least 21 years old
- You have held your car licence (sometimes called a non-D1, category B or even a 'standard' or 'ordinary' driving licence) for a minimum of 2 years
- The minibus is being used on a voluntary basis for social purposes by a non-commercial body e.g. State Schools, Scouts, charities and sports clubs
- The maximum weight of the minibus and all of its contents (GVW or MAM) cannot exceed 3.5 tonnes, or 4.25 tonnes where specialist equipment is fitted to carry disabled passengers e.g. wheelchair lifts or ramps
- You do not tow a trailer of any size or weight
- You receive no payment for driving a minibus where it is incidental to your main employment, other than recovery of out of pocket costs such as fuel and parking expenses
- If you are over 70 years-old, you will be required to undertake a medical examination to ensure you meet 'Group 2' medical standards
Can you charge passengers for running costs?
If you need to recoup running costs from passengers, you can apply to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for a minibus permit (also referred to as a Section 19 permit), so long as the following conditions are met:
- The minibus can carry between 9 and 16 passengers
- You are driving on a voluntary basis for an organisation which benefits the community e.g. a religious, sports or educational establishment
- The minibus service is only made available to members of the organisation, not the general public
- Charges are to cover running costs and not for profit
What is 'hire or reward'?
To avoid being in breach of the law, it's important to understand how 'hire or reward' is defined. If a passenger is deemed to have made a payment in return for travel in a minibus, this is classed as hire or reward, regardless of whether the organisation is profit making or not. Both direct and indirect forms of payment can be treated as hire or reward:
- Direct payment - A passenger who pays a fare in return for travel
- Indirect payment - Any situation where a clear and logical link can be made between a payment and transport being provided e.g. a hotel shuttle service
Advice for Schools
Do you run an independent school with charitable status, or a state school such as a free school academy or grammar?
If you take pupils off-site for trips within the school day or during an extra-curricular activity, where pupils do not pay for the transport, this is unlikely to be classed as operating for hire or reward*.
Do you run an independent, fee-paying school without charitable status?
It is possible schools in this category may be viewed as a commercial body, with school fees being considered as hire or reward where minibus transport is provided*.
*Minibus World is not able to provide legal advice, and as this legislation has not to our knowledge been tested in court, any organisations seeking further clarification should contact the DVLA
What size minibus can I drive?
Our expert Vehicle Design team have tailored our line-up of CanDrive category B licence minibuses to perfectly match the needs of the education and voluntary sector, when they ask "can I drive a minibus?"
If you passed your category B driving test on or after 1 January 1997 and meet the necessary criteria, you will be able to drive our full range of small minibuses and any minibus with the CanDrive branding, typically known as a Lightweight Minibus. If you passed before 1 January 1997 and have a D1 (101) entitlement, or you hold a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) D1 licence, you can drive our entire range of 9 to 16 passenger seat minibuses.
Extra Large Minibuses
Drivers with a D1 (101) entitlement are able to drive our largest minibuses, while category B licence holders will need to apply for a PCV D1 licence. Carrying up to 17 occupants and a maximum of 6 wheelchairs, our extra-large minibuses usually have a longer saloon compartment and/or additional payload, such as the Ford Transit 17 Seater Minibus (4.6 tonne GVW).
Typically providing seating for 15 to 17 people and a maximum of up to 6 wheelchair passengers, our large minibus range is our most popular and versatile, and includes the CanDrive Light 16 Seat Minibus, CanDrive Flexi 17 Seat Minibus, CanDrive Maxi 17 Seat Minibus and fully wheelchair accessible CanDrive EasyOn offering various configurations of wheelchair and passenger seating for up to 17 people in total. Our large CanDrive range is also led by the popular Peugeot Boxer Lightweight Minibus, along with the Ford Transit CanDrive Light 15 Seat Minibus.
With space for up to 14 passengers, our medium-sized minibuses from top manufacturers include: the Ford Transit 12 seat minibus, the spacious CanDrive Light 12 seat minibus and the compact CanDrive Light 15 seat minibus, with our most popular model being the Peugeot Boxer Lightweight Minibus.
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