If you’re asking yourself what type of driving licence you need for a minibus, the answer depends very much on what you will be using it for.

To drive a minibus with between nine and 16 seats in the UK, you only have to have a car licence, unless you are driving for hire and reward – i.e. being paid for driving it.

So, before you book a minibus licence course or pay for an unnecessary licence, take a look at the information below to find out what the current rules are in the UK.

Important facts about driving minibuses

There were some important updates made in April 2018 to the guidance on driving minibuses, and it is advisable to have a read of the driver licensing requirements for minibuses before you go ahead and hire one.

Here you will find out about exemptions, the different rules that may apply if you are aged over 70, and what you need to do if you volunteer services without receiving payment, but still need to claim expenses.

Can you drive a 9 seater minibus on a normal licence?

You should be able to drive a minibus with up to 16 seats on a voluntary basis without a special licence. However, an exception to this would be if you were driving abroad, and you passed your driving test after 1st January 1997. In this case, you would need to apply for a minibus licence.

On your licence, if it displays category D1 with restriction code 79, it should also display ‘nfhr’, which stands for ‘not for hire or reward’. That means you can’t accept payment for driving the minibus and can only drive it on a voluntary basis – i.e. limited to social purposes and not on behalf of a commercial operation.

So, if you’re asking yourself what type of licence you would need to drive a minibus for hire and reward, the answer isn’t your standard licence! You will need both a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) licence and a public service vehicle (PSV) licence.

What if my licence doesn’t have minibus entitlement?

If you can’t see ‘nfhr’ or D1 on your licence, you may still be permitted to drive minibuses in the UK, providing it is in a non-commercial arrangement.

To do so, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • hold a full car licence for at least 2 years;
  • be over the age of 21;
  • you’re driving the minibus on a voluntary basis or for social purposes; and
  • you won’t be receiving payment or consideration for driving the minibus.

If you are allowed to drive the minibus, it shouldn’t weigh any more than 3,500kgs or be towing a trailer, and you can’t venture any further than the UK.

Our advice

Although you may be able to drive a minibus on your current licence, the answer to “can I drive a minibus?” always depends on the reason why you want or need to drive one!