You can drive a 9-seater on a standard car licence if you are doing so privately, as that size of vehicle is considered to be a ‘small vehicle’ adapted to carry 8 passengers or fewer. It is not considered to be a small bus, or minibus.

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. A Section 19 Permit replaces the need for a PSV or PHV licence. 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. There is no need for a PSV or PHV licence with a Section 19 Permit. Section 19 permit vehicles cannot be used to carry members of the general public.

Under a Section 19 Permit drivers of small vehicles, such as teachers or school staff, adapted to carry 8 passengers or less 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.