Once upon a time there was red tape. Then there was a government plan to get rid of all the red tape introduced by its predecessor.
Then there was more red tape.
Now, given this scenario, you might think that the issue of who can drive a minibus is complex and restricted. But…
But actually this is not really the case. You should be able to drive a minibus if you hold a car driving licence and follow certain conditions.
The first big issue to consider is hire and reward. Normally you can drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats using your current car driving licence as long as there’s no payment from or on behalf of the passengers.
So as long as parents or students are not paying specifically for the journey you should be ok and you can even drive a minibus in the UK and on temporary visits abroad (if the minibus has a calibrated tachograph).
Indeed even if you are making a charge to the students for travelling in the minibus you can still drive it providing you follow these conditions: you apply for a Minibus Permit, the driver is 21 or older, the vehicle can carry between 9 and 16 passengers, you’re driving it for a voluntary organisation that benefits the community (such as a school), the general public can’t use the minibus service, and any charges are to cover running costs and are made on a non-profit basis.
Of course this is only a summary and some additional regulations do apply here. For example, the driver must have had a full Driving Licence for at least 2 years, and the driving must be done on a voluntary basis – so it can’t be part of the terms and conditions of the job, nor can it result in additional payment by the school to the driver for undertaking the work.
All these conditions apply for a minibus up to a weight of not more than 3.5 tonnes (or 4.25 tonnes including specialist equipment for disabled passengers, eg a wheelchair ramp).
Oh yes, and you can’t tow a trailer.
Obviously this information is only intended as a guide and can’t be taken as a definitive list of do’s and don’ts. And it is always good to get approval from the governors, Local Authority or similar body if there is any doubt. There is more information on the Government’s own website on www.gov.uk/driving-a-minibus