Anyone with a standard car licence can drive a minibus under a Section 19 Permit as long as they meet certain conditions;
- they’re 21 or older
- they have held a full category B car licence for at least 2 years
- they receive no payment or other consideration for driving other than out-of-pocket expenses
- the vehicle has a maximum gross weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes (4.25 tonnes including specialised equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers)
- for drivers aged 70 or over, that they don’t have any medical conditions which would disqualify them from eligibility for a D1 licence
- no trailer is being towed
- where the driver’s licence only authorises the driving of vehicles with automatic transmission, that only a vehicle with automatic transmission is used
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. This means that if you are a volunteer driver or not driving for hire or reward you can drive a minibus; the weight of which depends on whether you have D1 entitlement.
If the minibus is over 3.5 tonnes (or 4.25 tonnes with specialist equipment) you will need D1 entitlement. D1 entitlement is either ‘inherited’ – on licences issued before 1st January 1997 – or can be earned by taking the full D1 theory and practical test.
You also need D1 entitlement if you are driving for a company that is profiting from its minibus operations. The organisation will also need additional licences such as a PSV Operator’s Licence.
Do teachers drive minibuses for hire or reward?
There is some legal ambiguity as to what constitutes hire or reward when it comes to drivers who are driving minibuses on a car licence as part of their employment, like teachers (this does not apply where the driver has D1 entitlement).
The NASWUT National Union of Teachers states: ‘Whether a teacher may be deemed to be driving a minibus for hire and reward because they are being paid a salary as a teacher is unclear, and advice on this point is contradictory, except in Northern Ireland.
The NASUWT strongly asserts that particularly, but not exclusively, due to the ambiguity around the hire/reward status, the full D1 licence is the minimum requirement, and a car licence is insufficient in all circumstances. If schools wish to train minibus drivers to D1 level, the costs of any training and testing for the D1 licence must be covered in full by the employer.’