There are two types of licence you can drive a minibus with; a standard (B) car licence and a D1 licence. Knowing which one you need depends 1. the weight of the vehicle 2. whether you are being paid to drive and 3. whether the vehicle is being driven for profit.
A standard (B) car licence allows you to drive a minibus operated not-for-profit, under a Section 19 Permit, as long as you meet certain conditions, the main ones being; that drivers are over 21 and have been driving for more than 2 years, that the gross weight (GVW) of the vehicle is under 3.5 tonnes (or 4.25 tonnes with specialist equipment) and that drivers receive no payment or other consideration.
The GVW or MAM is the weight of a vehicle including the maximum load (passengers, driver, luggage) that can be carried safely when it is being used on the road. This is also known as the permissible maximum weight and it is what dictates whether drivers need D1 entitlement.
You can find the weight, sometimes also called the plated weight on the chassis plate or VIN plate that is usually in the door frame, under the bonnet or in a front foot well. It looks like the image below. The MAM is always the second largest weight, in this case, 4100.
If you cannot meet these conditions you need a D1 licence or D1 entitlement on your car licence. If your standard car licence was issued before 1st January 1997 it will have D1 (101) entitlement on that licence. If not, you need to take a theory and practical test to obtain a D1 licence. With D1 entitlement you can drive a vehicle over 3.5 tonnes and you can be paid to do so, even under a Section 19 Permit.
Companies profiting from transport or carrying members of the general public must have either a PSV ‘O’ licence or a private hire vehicle (PHV) licence and a full D1 licence and CPC training is required for all drivers.
For more information on the conditions required to drive a minibus under a Section 19 Permit visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/section-19-and-22-permits-not-for-profit-passenger-transport/section-19-and-22-permits-not-for-profit-passenger-transport