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Driving a Minibus  D1 Licence Entitlement 


If you first passed your car driving test before 1st January 1997


You should automatically have D1 entitlement to drive a Minibus* on a not-for-profit** basis. Exceptions to automatic entitlement include medical restrictions and where licences have been renewed or updated but continuation of D1 entitlement has not been specifically requested.

*A minibus is defined as a vehicle constructed or adapted to carry between 9 & 16 passengers.
**A not-for-profit basis includes use under a Section 19 permit but excludes use connected to activities incidental to making a profit - i.e. Private Nursing Homes, Private Hire/Taxi Driving etc. 

If you first passed your car driving test after 1st January 1997


No D1 entitlement, you can only drive a Minibus if you meet all the following criterior :


  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You must have held full licence for minimum of 2 years
  • You must not tow a trailer
  • You must drive on a Voluntary Basis*
  • The Maximum vehicle weight must not exceed 3.5 tonnes** (or 4.25 tonnes if fitted with passenger lift or ramp)


It is the last two requirements that cause most difficulty* ” Voluntary' in the context of minibus driving means that the driver is driving socially and not specifically paid for driving and cant therefore be compelled to drive ie ‘Minibus driving is not in their job description’.                                                 Also** the majority of minibuses now have maximum weights (GVW’s) in excess of 3.5/4.25 tonnes.  

Should you wish to drive a minibus for profit, wish to use one in an activity that’s incidental to making a profit, or first passed your driving test after 1st January 1997 and do not meet the criterior of the exemption, you must obtain full D1 licence entitlement from Driving Standards Agency (DSA)

How to obtain full D1 licence entitlement. 
Guidelines on Incidental Driving of Minibuses.
Entitlement Flow Diagram.


'Section 19' - Small Bus Permit Scheme


Certain organisations can apply for a Minibus Permit, (Section 19 -Transport Act 1985) for vehicles that can carry between nine and sixteen passengers. The permit allows organistations like volunteer groups concerned with education, religion, social welfare, recreations and other activities that are beneficial to the community to make a charge without having to comply with the full passenger carrying vehicle entitlement (PCV) operator licensing requirements and without the need for their drivers to have PCV entitlement. It should be noted however, that volunteer minibus drivers who passed their car driving test after 1 January 1997 are restricted to drive minibuses which weigh no more that 3500kg gross vehicle weight. Section 19 permits have a life span of 5 years and must be renewed accordingly.

If no charge is made for the use of the bus at all, no permit is required. However, the word 'charge' covers more than just the payment of a fare. Any payment which directly or indirectly gives a person a right to be carried on the vehicle (the legal term for this is 'Hire or Reward') would require the operator to hold either a Section 19 Permit or PSV Operator's Licence.


Payment can:

  • be made by the person themselves or by someone else on their behalf;
  • be direct (for example, a fare); or
  • be indirect (for example, a subscription membership, payment for a hotel room or an admission charge - where, without the 'right to be carried' on

     the vehicle, they would not be able to use the hotel or reach the place for which they had paid admission). 


Additional Information:

  • Any non-profit making body concerned with education, religion, social welfare, recreation or other activities of benefit to the community can apply

     for a permit. 

  • A Small Bus Permit can be issued for vehicles able to carry 9-16 passengers excluding the driver.
  • It is not necessarily the owner of a vehicle that is required to obtain a Section 19 permit, but the user.
  • A Section 19 permit currently costs around £8.
  • A Section 19 permit is available from a Traffic Area Office or your Local Authority licencing department.
  • For each permit granted, a disc will be issued which must be displayed on the inside windscreen of the vehicle.
  • Only one vehicle can be operated under each permit, but the disc can be moved from one vehicle to another.
  • If a school or organisation hires or lends the vehicle to another non-profit making body, they cannot use the school's permit, but must operate the

     vehicle under their own permit and disc. 

  • All permit bus drivers MUST be aged 21 or over.
  • The permit system only applies to journeys entirely within the UK. The business of taking minibuses abroad is highly complex; organsations 
  • contemplating this are advised to seek legal advise for more information.