Policy on Driving a Minibus

1. Scope and purpose.

  • Relates to all staff driving a minibus for UCL-related business (e.g. student field trips).
  • For the purpose of this policy, minibuses are defined as vehicles with between 9 and 16 passenger seats with a trailer up to 750kg.

Policy will cover:

  • Driving licence requirements
  • Minibus Permits (Section 19 Permits)
  • Medical fitness
  • Insurance cover

In order to be properly licensed to drive a minibus, you need to have the following:

  • a valid driving licence with a category DI entitlement or PCV licence
  • Section 19 Mini-bus Permit
  • Medical check by Occupational Health
  • Valid insurance

2. Driving Licence Requirements.

2.1 Car licences issued prior to 1 January 1997.

If you hold a full driving licence issued before 01/01/97, your licence will probably give you a category D1 entitlement. This entitles you to drive a minibus provided:

  • You are 21 years of age or over,
  • The minibus has a maximum of 17 seats (including the driver's seat); and
  • The vehicle is not being used for hire or reward. 

A vehicle is to be treated as carrying passengers for hire or reward if any payment is made for the carrying of passengers, irrespective of to whom the payment is made. This includes when:

  • The passengers have paid for the fuel only
  • The passengers have shared the cost or part of the cost of the minibus between them
  • The minibus hire is included in a "package" trip
  • The passengers directly pay a charge per person for a journey
  • When the whole cost or any part of the cost of the minibus is taken from funds which include membership subscriptions from passengers
  • When passengers do not pay directly to use the vehicle but buy fuel for it. 

The DVLA has stated that any term time travel undertaken by a university would likely be considered as being "for hire and reward", whereas a student driving fellow students in a minibus to a sports fixture would be viewed as for social purposes and not for hire or reward.

2.2 Car licences issued on or after 1 January 1997.

If you hold a driving licence dated on or after 01/01/97 (or for any other reason you do not have a category D1 minibus entitlement on your driving licence) then you can drive a minibus provided:

  • you drive on behalf of a non-commercial body for social purposes but not for hire or reward (unless you have a Minibus Permit – see below);
  • you are aged 21 or over;
  • you have held a car (category B) licence for at least 2 years;
  • you are providing your driving services on a voluntary basis; and
  • the appropriate weight restrictions are adhered to.

When driving a minibus on this basis you may only receive out of pocket expenses.

The definition of hire and reward is given above. If you hold a licence dated on or after 01/01/97 and the minibus is being used for hire or reward you will need to have a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence.

PCV Licence

Drivers who passed their car driving test on or after 1st January 1997, or do not have a category DI entitlement on their licence, will require full D or Dl entitlement (PCV) obtained by taking a further test. "Obtained by a test" means that the driver has passed a second driving test in addition to passing an ordinary driving test.

3. Minibus Permits (also known as a Section 19 Permit).

A method of getting around the need for all the drivers to obtain PCV licences would be to apply for Minibus Permits (also known as a Section 19 Permit). These are issued to organisations concerned with, amongst other things, education including universities. By obtaining a Permit you do not have to have the PCV licence.

The Permit is only applicable where the minibus is being used solely for the organisation in question and on a non-profit basis. Permits are issued by the local authority and cost around £9. A permit is required for each vehicle being used by an organisation at any one time. For example if you are using 5 mini-buses at the same time then you would require 5 permits. 

It would appear that if your licence has the D1 entitlement then you would be able to drive with the Minibus Permit. If you do not have the D1 entitlement then the Permit is applicable where you receive no payment or consideration other than out of pocket expenses, you are over 21 years of age and have held a licence for at least 2 years, the appropriate weight restrictions are met and you are driving on a voluntary basis. The DVLA queried whether a driver would be deemed to be voluntary if it was expressly stated in his contract of employment that he was required to drive, the example used was that of physical education teacher driving his/her pupils to sports matches.

3.1 Application form for a small bus permit (Section 19 minibus permit).

Application form PSV 372 is obtainable from the South Eastern and Metropolitan Traffic Area Office (telephone 0870 606 0440) or as a downloadable pdf document from DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) at, under the heading of Small or Large Bus Permits.

The fees for applying for a minibus permit are available on the DVSA website.

Driving a minibus abroad.

Section 19 permits are not valid outside the UK. 

The type of driving licence which drivers need when taking a minibus abroad within the European Union (EU) is as follows:

  • Drivers who passed their car driving test before 1st January 1997 can only drive a minibus which is operating for hire and reward if they have a licence which has either full D or Dl entitlement (PCV) obtained by taking a further test.
  • Drivers who passed their car driving test on or after 1st January 1997 will require full D or Dl entitlement (PCV) obtained by taking a further test. 

‘Obtained by a test’ means that the driver has passed a second driving test in addition to passing an ordinary driving test. 

Drivers who passed their car driving test before 1st January 1997 can drive on ordinary entitlement providing the minibus is not operating for hire and reward. The definition of hire and reward is described in more detail above.

For general queries about taking a minibus abroad, contact the Department of Transport on 0300 123 9000.

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Page last modified on 04 dec 15 16:59