Providing you are not driving for your employer or being paid to drive you can drive a 16 seat minibus with a car licence under a Section 19 Permit. Conditions include; being 21 or older, holding your licence for over 2 years, that the vehicle is under 3500kg (plus up to 750kg allowance for specialist lifting equipment only) and you’re not receiving payment or other consideration. A D1 entitlement is required if any of the conditions are not met.

Conditions of driving a minibus on a car licence under a Section 19 Permit

Schools that are not-for-profit or are registered charities can apply for a Section 19 Permit so they can operate minibuses without an Operator’s Licence.

All drivers of a vehicle operated under a permit must be 21 or over. If you were issued a full category B licence (car, not automatic) before 1 January 1997 you were automatically granted additional entitlement D1, to drive a small bus of any weight not used for hire or reward and there is no restriction on receiving payment.

Drivers who passed their car test on or after 1 January 1997 were not granted D1 entitlement. Category B entitles them to drive a small bus but only if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. they have held a full category B car licence for at least 2 years
  2. they receive no payment or other consideration for driving other than out-of-pocket expenses
  3. the vehicle has a maximum gross weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes (4.25 tonnes including specialised equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers)
  4. for drivers aged 70 or over, that they don’t have any medical conditions which would disqualify them from eligibility for a D1 licence
  5. no trailer is being towed
  6. where the driver’s licence only authorises the driving of vehicles with automatic transmission, that only a vehicle with automatic transmission is used

Drivers aged 70 or over who don’t meet the higher medical standards are not authorised to drive small buses. They can drive small vehicles being used under a permit, provided they have renewed their car licence.

(Source: 9.1 Driving entitlement requirements.

Condition 2. Are teachers receiving payment or other consideration?

Castle Minibus has consulted specialist transport solicitors who have informed us that teachers who are driving on behalf of their employers, even if they ‘volunteer’ to do so are considered to be driving for payment as part of their employment. It is not enough that driving is not specified in their contract. ‘Other consideration’ could also be applied if teachers are ‘volunteering’ for extra-curricular activities that include driving a minibus to improve their chances of promotion, their standing within the school or enhance their CV. Other county councils including Hertfordshire County Council have sought legal advice on this issue and the legal advice is the same.

If you drive for your employer, your licence must include category D1.

This includes teachers and school staff, during the school day or out of hours. That’s because you’re at work, being paid and your journeys are official business.

There is an exemption for volunteers without D1 on their licence. However, our legal advice is that this exemption does not apply to teachers and school staff.

In January 2018 revised guidance from the DVA stated that all teachers in Northern Ireland were required to have a D1 entitlement and driver qualification card (CPC) as they are considered to be drivers in a professional capacity.

While this primarily impacts on paid drivers, some ‘volunteer’ drivers will also be affected as anyone who drives as a consequence of their employment or accepts a payment from passengers should also hold a full minibus licence and DCPC.

(Source 2.12 Conclusion

If you require more information on Section 19 Permits, D1 entitlements and licences and minibus compliance please call Castle Minibus on 01869 253744 or email