Category D1 (Minibuses)
As long as you have held your car driving licence for at least two years, and you are aged 21 or over, you are able to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats. It needs to be a maximum length of eight metres and you can tow a trailer of up to 750kg.
There are a number of conditions attached to this driving licence category, however:
- You must be driving for a non-commercial body for social purposes only
- You must not be driving for hire or reward
- The minibus weight must not be more than 3.5 tonnes, excluding any specialist equipment for carriage of disabled passengers
- If you are aged 70 and over you need to meet the health standards required
If you don’t meet the above criteria then you will need to pass a medical theory, hazard perception and a full D1 driving test to get the category.
What can I drive with a D1?
With this category on your licence, which should normally be included automatically when you pass your car test, you can drive a minibus on a voluntary basis. This category does not allow you to drive commercially or to drive anything with more than 16 seats which would be classed as a bus or a coach so if you want to drive a minibus for a living, or a bigger passenger-carrying vehicle then do get in touch and we can help you out with the correct training.
This will enable you to drive on a voluntary basis, so driving a school minibus, church group, driving disabled people to appointments, community transport type driving – basically anything involving a minibus where you are not paid or rewarded for the driving.
There must be no payment received from or on behalf of the passengers – this is the definition of the minibus not being for hire or reward.
What if I want to take a minibus abroad?
If you are planning to take a minibus abroad then you will need to look into the licensing arrangements for the country you wish to travel to, to find out what their rules are.
What if I need to charge passengers?
If you plan to charge passengers to cover the cost of the running costs of your minibus then you will need to apply for a minibus permit. You can apply for this as long as:
- The minibus only carries 9-16 passengers
- You are driving it for a voluntary organisation that benefits the community (school, church, sport group)
- The minibus is only used for members of that organisation, not the general public
- The charges only cover running costs and don’t generate a profit
If you meet all of this criteria then you will need to apply for a minibus permit from your local authority or from the DVSA.
What if I want to run a minibus business for profit?
You cannot drive a minibus commercially under this licence. If you want to drive commercially you will need to apply for a Passenger Carrying Vehicle Licence (PCV), a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator licence, and you will need to take the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC).
So let’s take each of these in turn:
PCV – this is a minibus licence so you will need to apply for this in the same way as a bus licence, to the DVLA and pass the relevant driving tests.
PSV – this is a licence which allows you to drive a vehicle which can carry nine or more passengers and allow you to charge for the service. There is a standard licence which lets you operate around Great Britain; a Standard licence (national and international operations) which allows you to take passengers abroad as well. If you are operating in London you will need a London Service Permit.
CPC – This was introduced following EU Directive 2003/59 which requires all professional bus, coach and lorry drivers to hold a CPC as well as their driving licence. CPC requires all existing category C and D licence holders (including C1 and D1) to take part in 35 hours training every five years in order to maintain their CPC.
Experienced drivers do not need to do the new driver training qualifications but need to complete the 35 hours. But for new drivers, CPC introduced a new initial qualification process that they must complete before they can drive professionally. The aim is to improve professional driver safety, reduce road casualties and enhance the reputation of those that drive for a living by ensuring high levels of competence from the outset.