What is a Minibus, Do I Have the Correct Licence and What About Insurance?

More drivers in the UK today are using MPV’s and People Carriers. But as the car has 7-8 seats can it be classed as a minibus? The answer is ‘no’.

What is a Minibus?

If it has between 9 to 16 passenger seats then its classification is as a minibus. This has implications for the type of driving licence required and may need specialist minibus insurance.

Do I Have the Correct Licence?

All licences issued after 1 January 1997 need a category D1 classification to allow the driver to use a minibus. The licence can be obtained by passing a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) test provided by the DVLA.

A minibus can be driven on a full category B (car) licence, but the following conditions must to be met:

1. The minibus can only be used in the UK. A D1 licence is required for driving in Europe.

2. The minibus is only used for social reasons. It cannot be hired and there must be no financial reward.

3. Trailers cannot be towed.

4. The driver must to be over 21 and have held a Category B license for more than 2 years. Drivers over the age of 70 will need to prove their medical fitness to drive.

5. The minibus must not weigh more than 3.5 tonnes. If it is carrying special equipment for disabled passengers the maximum weight is 4.25 tonnes.

6. Payment cannot be accepted for driving the minibus.

What About Insurance?

Insurance for a minibus, as with any motor vehicle, is required by the law. The minimum level is Third Party cover but this is a very basic policy and you are risking a large bill if something were to happen that required a claim.

The other two types of insurance are Fire and Theft, and Comprehensive. Specific ‘extras’ can be added to the insurance depending on the minibus’s use.

Whatever type of cover you chose it is better to be ‘safe than sorry’, especially if there is the extra responsibility of transporting passengers. If the minibus is used by many different drivers then leave a copy of the policy in the vehicle in case it is required after an accident.

Consult a specialist minibus insurance provider. They will be able to advise you about what is needed and find a suitable policy tailored to your specific requirements.

The Directgov website has more information about the UK regulations for driving a minibus and there is a helpful section explaining the difference between the driving licence categories.