Minibuses are large, passenger carrying vehicles. Because of this extra responsibility the driving regulations regarding licensing, servicing and minibus insurance are a lot stricter than a normal car.
This article is a guide to the frequently asked questions about driving a minibus.
What is a minibus?
The classification for a minibus is a vehicle that has between 9 to 16 passenger seats. With more than16 passenger seats the vehicle is classed as a coach.
What is a Section 19 Minibus Permit?
If a minibus is being driven for hire or reward then a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence is required. Certain organisations such as volunteer groups, whose activities are beneficial to a community, can apply for a Section 19 Permit. This allows a small charge to be made to cover the vehicles operating costs without the need of a PCV licence.
A driver of a Section 19 permit minibus can either be a volunteer or be paid. If the minibus is being used as a non-profit bus service a Section 22 permit can be applied for. However with this permit the driver must be a unpaid volunteer.
Minibuses used by schools and educational establishment that do not charge their pupils do not normally require a Section 19 permit.
Section 19 permits are only valid within the UK.
Do minibus passengers have to wear seatbelts?
Seatbelts requirements for minibuses vary according to the age of the vehicle, passenger carrying capacity, type of passengers (i.e children or wheelchair users) and type of seat fitted. A general rule is that if a minibus is fitted with seatbelts then they must be worn.
It is compulsory for a minibus driver to wear a seatbelt.
What are the Driving Licence requirements for a minibus?
Driving licences issued after the 1st January 1997 require a category D1 classification, which can be obtained by applying to the DVLA and passing a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) test.
There are exemptions to this regulation that will allow a minibus to be driven with a full category B (car) licence, but the following conditions need to be met:
1. The minibus is used for a social purpose but not for hire and reward.
2. You must be over 21 and have held your Category B license for more than 2 years. If you are over 70 then you are required to meet the health standards for driving a D1 vehicle.
3. No payment can be accepted for driving the minibus.
4. The minibus cannot weigh more than 3.5 tonnes or 4.25 tonnes with special equipment for carrying disabled passengers.
5. Towing a trailer of any size is prohibited.
6. The minibus can only be driven in the UK. Driving in Europe will require a D1 licence.
What are the speed limits for driving a minibus?
Speed limits for a minibus on UK roads are:
30 mph in urban and residential areas
50 mph on A class (single-carriageway) roads
60 mph on dual-carriageway roads
70 mph on motorways
If the minibus is towing a trailer the speed limit on motorways is reduced to 60 mph and the fast lane cannot be used for overtaking.
Minibuses registered after 1st January 2005 must now be fitted for with a speed limiter, restricting their maximum speed to 62 mph.
What are the regulations for driving a minibus in Europe?
A ‘waybill’ or an ‘own account certificate’ must be carried regardless of whether the minibus is being used for hire or reward. The MinibusClub.co.uk has more information about these documents.
Other documents that need to accompany the vehicle include a minibus insurance certificate, European accident form and Vehicle Registration document. A specialist minibus insurance provider will be able to advise whether a Green Card is also needed.
When driving in Europe a GB sticker or EU style GB sticker must be prominently displayed on the minibus at all times.
More information about minibus driving regulations can be obtained from the Directgov website or the Minibus Club.