Can I Drive A Minibus? The Yes/No Debate About Driving Licence Entitlements

Can I Drive A Minibus? The Yes/No Debate About Driving Licence Entitlements

There’s certainly some confusion surrounding driving licence category entitlements as to who can drive a minibus and who can’t. If you’re thinking, can I drive a minibus?, here’s the definitive yes/no answer.

If you passed your normal driving test before 1 January 1997, you should automatically carry Category D1 & D1E entitlement on your licence. This entitles you to drive a minibus with no more than 16 passenger seats and with a maximum GVW of 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) and on a not-for-profit basis.

If you passed your normal driving test on or after 1 January 1997, you will be able to drive a minibus with no more than 16 passenger seats on a not-for-profit basis assuming the following criteria is met.

  • You Must Be At Least 21 Years Old.
  • Have Held A Valid Driving Licence For At Least 2 Years.
  • You Do Not Use The Minibus For Towing.
  • The Vehicle Must Not Exceed 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) or 4,500kg (4.5 tonnes) if it is fitted with disability aids such as a wheelchair ramp.

Reference: https://www.gov.uk/driving-a-minibus

Like our other great post on driving entitlement for a Luton Van, we’ll try to explain things as clearly and jargon free as possible so by the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll be in no doubt whether or not you can legally drive a minibus.

Minibuses You Can Drive On A Normal Car Licence

Ford Tourneo Minibus – For Up To 8 Passengers

Silver Ford Tourneo Minibus 9 Seater

The Ford Tourneo minibus is an excellent 9 seater family wagon for large broods, soccer moms, taxi firms, or simply anyone who likes the space of a van with the comfort and convenience of a car.

With MPG at a respectable 48.7mpg for the petrol model and 62.8mpg for it’s diesel counterpart, fuel consumption isn’t too shabby either.

Space in this little shuttle bus is awesome too. With reversible second row seats and enough luggage room to pitch a tent, the Tourneo minibus get’s our thumbs up.

Renault Trafic Passenger Minibus – For Up To 8 Passengers

Blue Renault Trafic Minibus 9 Seater

Hot on the heels of the Tourneo is the Renault Trafic Minibus. Again, this is another pocket people transporter that thinks it’s a car.

The solidly built Trafic is testament to Renault’s unrelenting pursuit of innovation and reliability with the bulletproof diesel engine seeing real world fuel consumption hover around 50mpg.

Abundant in comfort, style, reliability and practicality, it’s no real wonder why this particular carrier has become such a sensible choice for families and businesses alike.

The Renault Trafic minibus. It’s the little people van that can.

Ford Transit Minibus – For Up To 16 Passengers

White Ford Transit Minibus 17 Seater

Now we’re in the heavyweight division, the Ford Transit minibus is the undisputed king of the ring with a long standing dominance in the minibus world.

With seating capacity up to a whopping 17 passengers, this is one more seat than allowed on a Category D1 licence however you do have the option to customise your Transit – to your needs – so that extra seat is a non issue.

With decades of engineering experience to mould this marvel, Ford have got it right. The space is perfect, the trim quality is solid and the new HDT (Heavy Duty Truck) engine is nothing short of bulletproof.

The Ford Transit Minibus, the King still has his crown.

Mercedes Sprinter Transfer Minibus – For Up To 16 Passengers

Silver Mercedes Sprinter Minibus 17 Seater

Never to be outdone, the Mercedes Sprinter minibus picks up where the Transit leaves off. Streamlined with luxury and comfort, the Sprinter is the Arab Emirates of the minibus world.

At the pinnacle of engineering excellence, the only optional extra missing from this vehicle is a flux capacitor and with two versions of the Sprinter minibus available, it’s get even better.

This is the minibus that thinks it’s a bus. Touching 7 metres with 15 passenger seats as standard, it does have the option of welcoming up to 19 passengers.

If it’s refinement & class you demand, the Mercedes Sprinter Minibus is your top choice.

Can I Drive A Minibus Without Passengers – Taking The Seats Out

This is a bit of a grey area and there are two schools of thought.

  1. A minibus is effectively a van with windows so without the passengers, you’re basically driving a normal van with seats fitted in the rear. You’re legally allowed to drive a van on a normal car licence, ergo, you can drive a minibus.
  2. The Driving Standards Agency have decided that your driving licence entitles you to drive vehicles with a maximum number of seats, not passengers, ergo, you may not be entitled to drive certain vehicles.

The correct answer is #2. Always err on the side of caution and stick with what we know to be legal.

If you want to drive a large minibus but you’re only entitled to drive a vehicle with no more than 8 passenger seats, you can of course keep yourself legal by buying a 17 seat vengabus and simply removing 8 of the seats.

You will, without doubt, need to contact the DVLA to reclassify your vehicle with it’s new number of seats. Until you do this, it will still be classed as a 16+1 seat minibus.

Driving A Minibus With 8 Passengers

According to the UK .Gov website, you can legally drive any vehicle, including a minibus with up to 8 passenger seats on a normal car licence and can tow a trailer not exceeding 750kg.

This is irrespective of when you passed your driving test or whether or not you have category D1 entitlement.

Reference: https://www.gov.uk/driving-licence-categories

Driving A Minibus With 16 Passengers

You may drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats if you passed your normal driving test before 1 January 1997. This includes entitlement to tow a trailer over 750kg MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass).

If you passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997, then you may drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats assuming you’re at least 21 years old, have held your driving licence for more than 2 years and do not tow a trailer.

If you are not at least 21 years old or have not held your licence for at least 2 years, then the passenger seats in any vehicle you drive must not exceed 8.

Can I Drive A Minibus Without D1

If you’re driving licence has category D1 entitlement, you’re entitled to drive a minibus assuming the following is true.

  • The vehicle has no more than 16 passenger seats
  • The vehicle is of a maximum length of 8 metres
  • Any trailer on tow does not exceed 750kg

If you passed your test on or after 1 January 1997 or don’t have D1 entitlement on your licence, then you’re only entitled to drive a vehicle with up to 8 passenger seats.

If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 then you should already have category D1 entitlement so are entitled to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats with a GVW of 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes).

Minibus Driving Entitlements On A Category B Car Licence

You may drive a minibus with no more than 8 passenger seats on a normal Category B car licence if you passed your test after 1 January 1997 and do not have Category D1 entitlement.

If you passed your test before 1 January 1997 then you’re legally permitted to drive a minibus on a Category B licence however the .Gov website is unclear on seating capacity or GVW.

Passing your test before this date should entitle you to Category D1 on your licence by default, permitting you to drive any vehicle under that class. This includes a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats and a trailer.

Minibus Driving Entitlements On A Category C Licence

You may drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats and a GVW of no more than 3.500kg (3.5 tonnes) on a Category C licence.

This is only because you cannot obtain a Category C licence without first first holding Category B entitlement.

If you do not already have Category B or D1 on your licence, then you’re not permitted to drive a minibus regardless of what other entitlements you hold.

A Category C licence entitles you to drive vehicles over 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) referring mainly to lorries and HGV’s.

Category C shouldn’t be confused with Category C1 & C1E.

Driving Entitlements For A Minibus On A Category D Licence

You’re permitted to drive any vehicle with more than 8 passenger seats, including a minibus, on a Category D Licence.

Category D entitlement refers to buses, minibuses or any other other passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) for hire or reward.

You should note however that Category D1 & D1E are separate categories. Entitlement these categories alone does not allow you to operate vehicles permitted only under Category D.


When it comes to your driving licence, NEVER assume anything. Check the back of your licence for absolute assurance of what you are and what you are not entitled to drive.

Leave a Reply