Can I drive a minibus on a car licence?

Minibus hire

If you’re planning to hire a van either here in the UK or abroad you may need to consider certain criterias and requirements. And while it is mostly straight forward process, It can get quite confusing especially when it comes to hiring a minibus.

Definition of a minibus

What is a minibus? The 1986 Regulation defines minibus as ‘a motor vehicle which is constructed or adapted to carry more than 8 but not more than 16 seated passengers in addition to the driver. ‘  In other words, a minibus is a vehicle capable of carrying passengers with a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 16 passenger seats (plus the driver’s seat).

Minibus with or without driver

minibus driver

Plan, plan, plan. Before you even start getting minibus hire quotes, find out whether you are entitled to drive a minibus, estimate how far you need to drive, whether you need to go abroad and how many people will you have on board.

It is vital to get this right, as some companies for instance do not allow trips abroad due to their insurance policies or might not be able to provide a driver when you need one.

Most of the self-drive van hire companies do not offer service with a driver included, therefore make sure to consider your options.

Is the minibus for ‘hire or reward’?

You might be able to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats using your current car driving licence as long as there’s no payment from or on behalf of the passengers (it’s not for ‘hire or reward’).

In other words, you’re driving on a voluntary basis and the minibus is used for social purposes by a non-commercial body. To drive a minibus for ‘hire or reward’ a driver must hold a D1 passenger carrying vehicle licence.

Driving licence held before 1 January 1997

If you check your licence that has been issued before 1 January 1997, you should be able to find out, that it depicts entitlement to drive category D1. This category was automatically granted if you passed your test before 1 January 1997. And this also means that you can drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats without needing an additional driving test.

Driving licence held on or after 1 January 1997

If you check your licence that has been issued on or after 1 January 1997, you will notice that you do not have a D1 category depicted on the licence and therefore you are not entitled to drive a minibus without taking the additional driving test.

However, you can drive a minibus with a full category B (entitlement to drive a regular car) within the UK up to 16 passenger seats as long as the following conditions apply:

  • you’re 21 or older
  • you’ve 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’re 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, for example a wheelchair ramp
  • you’re not towing a trailer

Note that driving a minibus under these conditions will make it not possible to receive any payment or any other incentive from the passengers and the minibus must be used for social purposes only.

Driving a self-drive minibus from a van hire company

Although you might be able to drive a minibus under certain conditions with your regular car licence of category B, self-drive minibus hire companies will require D1 licence. This is due to their insurance policy which is given by their insurance service provider.

minibus hire

At Reward Van Hire we do require a full D1 category licence in order to use our self-drive minibus hire service, plus hirers are required to be of 25 to 75 years old.

Driving a minibus abroad

You might be able to drive a minibus abroad. Contact the licensing authority in the country you’re visiting for more information.

At Reward Van Hire we do not allow hirers to take our minibuses abroad.

Resources

For more information visit the following: