You can drive an 8 seater minibus on a car licence with no other considerations, if you are doing so privately. It is not considered to be a small bus, or minibus. That size of vehicle is classed as a ‘small vehicle’ adapted to carry 8 passengers or fewer.
There are conditions and restrictions on driving these types of vehicles if it is not your private vehicle. If you are driving for an organisation or as part of your employment there may be some restrictions on who can drive these vehicles, such as needing to be over 21 and having had your licence for over two years, but you still only need a standard car licence.
An organisation that accepts any sort of payment for providing transport to passengers must hold either a PSV ‘O’ licence or a private hire vehicle (PHV) licence and driver must hold the full D1 licence and complete annual CPC training. Section 19 Permits are issued by the DVSA to organisations that operate vehicles without a view to profit to transport their members, or people whom the organisation exists to help, such as school pupils. Section 19 permit vehicles can’t be used to carry members of the general public. Section 19 Permit replaces the need for a PSV Operators and/or PHV licence.
Under a Section 19 Permit drivers of small vehicles, such as teachers or school staff, adapted to carry 8 or fewer passenger must be over 21 and have held a full standard car licence for at least 2 years. Drivers can be paid for driving a small vehicle under a section 19 permit.
You are likely to need a private hire vehicle licence if you do hire the vehicle as a whole.
Vehicles adapted to carry 8 or fewer passengers are only considered to be Public Service Vehicles if passengers are being charged separate fares in the course of the business of carrying passengers. This means that if you use a small vehicle you must charge separate fares. The vehicle must not be available for hire as a whole. You’re likely to need a private hire vehicle licence if you do hire the vehicle as a whole. In these cases you should contact your local council, which is responsible for licensing private hire vehicle operations, for advice.