Minibuses are a great way to transport a whole bunch of people from one place to another. You can rent them from almost any vehicle rental agency, or you could even learn to drive one professionally. But believe it or not, there are some restrictions on what you’re allowed to do with a minibus, and it all centres around the kind of license you hold and whether or not you’re planning to take money for your services.
Technically, absolutely anyone who holds a full car license can drive a minibus. As long as your license is clean, full and you’ve had it for more than 2 years, you’re ok. If you’re not sure, then just check on the back of your license – it will show you exactly what you can and can’t drive on it. And if it’s your first time hiring a minibus, double check it just in case. But really, the issue isn’t so much about being able to physically drive it, it’s about the restrictions in place to stop you driving for profit if you’re not licensed.
If you are driving a minibus for personal reasons, and not professionally, for hire or for reward, then you don’t need a separate license to operate one. You are legally allowed to drive a minibus with up to 16 passengers for free without any separate licenses. But there are some restrictions. For example, you do need to be over 21, and you need to have held the license for at least 2 years. You will also need to meet the ‘group 2’ medical criteria as defined by your GP to ensure the safety of your passengers. You will also need to make sure that the weight of the minibus doesn’t exceed 3.5 tonnes in total, and you aren’t allowed to tow a trailer at the same time as driving the minibus. If you are an older driver (i.e. over 70 years old), you might need to take a further medical exam and fill in a D2 application in order to drive a minibus.
Hiring a minibus isn’t cheap, especially if you’re going to use it for a while, or for a very long trip. As we’ve talked about already, if you’re driving a minibus for personal reasons and not for profit, you can do so under your standard license. But if you want to be able to charge to cover your costs, then there are some extra hoops to jump through. For example, you will need a permit. This is something you apply for through the DVSA, and you do need to be over 21 years old to apply. The conditions that go along with the permit is that the minibus must be used for a specific group of people, and not available to the general public. It must also be sized to carry between 9 and 15 passengers – no more and no less.
And finally, we have driving for payment. If you are looking to drive a minibus professionally and for hire, then you will need to get a new license to do so. The first thing you will need is a provisional entitlement to drive a minibus, also known as a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (or PCV) license. You’ll also need a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) license as well. It’s pretty simple to get these licences and will require you to undertake some training, driving hours and a test. But both of these licenses mark you out as being professionally capable of driving a minibus at a safe standard and allows you to legally charge for your time to do so. This means you can now drive a minibus freelance for profit, or seek out work as a professional minibus driver.
At the HGV Training Centre, we specialise in helping people who want to fit into that last category get themselves ready to start their minibus driving career. Our trainers have years of experience working with a wide range of vehicles, from forklifts to ten-tonne lorries. From ensuring your vehicle is safe and secure, to dealing with difficult and rowdy passengers, our team are here to help. So if you’re looking to start the next chapter in your professional driving journey, just get in touch with us today.
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