Most likely, you have ridden in or driven a minibus at one time or another. These vehicles are perfect for taking large groups from one location to another, and they can prove extremely convenient and cost-effective. Whether used for driving a big family on holiday or assisting friends who are moving house, there really is no limit to what can be accomplished. The question remains, however, of how much you actually understand about how to safety drive a minibus and whether you grasp all of the rules that apply.
Who May Drive A Minibus?
Strictly speaking, there is no limit to who may operate a minibus, as long as they possess a proper HGV driver training license. Full car license holders are permitted to operate minibuses, but when in doubt, just look at the back of your license to make sure you are covered. Verify this detail prior to hiring a minibus, though, just to be sure. Of course, licensing is not the only issue pertaining to minibus driving of which you should be aware, but the topic is really not terribly complicated.
Not For-Hire Driving
If your use of a minibus is strictly personal in nature, and you are not being paid, there is no need for a special license. You may drive a minibus for your own purposes and carry up to 16 people without any additional certifications. However, there are restrictions that apply. You must be over 21 years of age, and you need to have had a driving license for no less than 2 years. You must also meet “group 2” medical criteria in order to make sure your passengers remain safe. The minibus weight must not be more than 2.5 tonnes, and you cannot tow a trailer as you operate the minibus. Drivers over the age of 70 may be required to take an additional medical examination and complete D2 paperwork to legally operate a minibus.
You may not always be able to operate a minibus without accepting payment. The cost of minibus hires can be prohibitive, and if you are taking a long trip, the expense can be substantial. Even if you are using a minibus for a family or friends trip, or perhaps for a charitable endeavour, you may need to receive funds to pay the full cost of rental and operation. However, if you plan to go this route, you will have to obtain a permit. This can be sought through the DVSA, and you must be at least 21 years of age to secure such a permit. Applicable conditions for these permits include that the minibus can only be used for a defined group of passengers and that it will not be made available to members of the general public. The bus must be of a size capable of transporting between 9 and 15 passengers, and this size definition is strictly enforced.
Lastly, we need to consider the possibility of driving a minibus for profit. If you wish to drive a minibus as a mode of generating income, you must secure a specific type of license. You will have to have a particular certification referred to as a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) license in order to legally proceed. You must also obtain a Public Service Vehicle License (PSV) to engage in this type of driving for profit.