What you can drive
Driving a minibus
You may be allowed to drive a minibus without bus entitlement, if it is not used for hire or reward. Hire or reward generally means any payment in cash or kind made by or on behalf of passengers which gives them right to be carried in a vehicle.
Driving licence held before 1 January 1997
If you had entitlement to drive cars prior to 1 January 1997 you can drive a minibus provided you are 21 or over and the minibus has a maximum of 17 seats including the driver's seat and is not being used for hire or reward.
To drive a minibus which has nine or more passenger seats for hire or reward you will normally need passenger carrying vehicle entitlement (PCV). To obtain this you must meet higher medical standards and take a further driving test. However, if you drive a minibus for an organisation under the minibus or community bus permit scheme you will not need to have the higher PCV entitlements.
New rules from 1 January 1998
Your minibus entitlement will remain valid in the United Kingdom (UK) and on temporary visits abroad until your licence is next renewed. When your licence is renewed, your minibus entitlement can only be issued if you make a special application, which will involve meeting higher medical standards.
If your minibus entitlement is renewed you will normally be granted a licence for three years which will allow you to drive a minibus, not for hire or reward, in the UK and on temporary visits to other European Community/European Economic Area (EC/EEA) countries. See below for more details about licences that will be accepted abroad.
If your minibus entitlement is not renewed, the entitlement will no longer appear on your licence. However if you are aged under 70 years, you may still be able to drive minibuses in certain circumstances. Drivers whose licences are due for renewal will receive advice about these new procedures with their renewal reminder letter.
Medically restricted licences
In general, car licences have to be renewed when drivers reach the age of 70 but younger drivers with restricted medical licences will also be affected by the new rules when their licences are renewed after 1 January 1998. If you have a medically restricted licence you should note that entitlement to drive non-commercial minibuses on a voluntary basis would not be subject to the higher standards until you reach the age of 70. The rules listed at car licences first obtained after 1 January 1997 will also apply to you.
Licences that will be accepted abroad
All entitlements on British licences will continue to be accepted at face value during temporary visits to other EC/EEA countries. Please note that permit minibuses used for hire or reward cannot be driven outside the UK unless the driver has passed a PCV test.
Drivers who become permanently resident in another EC/EEA country may find that their entitlement to drive minibuses (not for hire or reward) may not be acceptable. Advice should be sought from the licensing authority of the new country with the exception of Northern Ireland, which will accept all Great Britain entitlements.
Drivers who do not have minibus entitlement
If your driving licence does not allow you to drive a minibus, there are certain circumstances where you still may be able to do so