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Section 19 Minibus permits

Operating a minibus? Here’s what you’ll need to know.

Groups, districts and counties who own, borrow or hire a minibus require a Standard Bus Permit under Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985.

Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985

Organisations that accept any sort of payment for passenger transport would usually need to hold a public service or private hire licence, and in most cases the driver would also require a passenger carrying vehicle entitlement on their driving license.

A Section 19 Standard Bus Permit allows non-profit organisations to charge for transport without the need to hold a license. This is for vehicles holding 9 – 16 passengers.

If payment is made for using the minibus in any way, then a permit is required. This includes indirect payments, such as through camp fees or subs. Practically speaking, this means that all groups, districts and counties will require a permit to operate a minibus.

These permits can't be used to provide transport to the general public, or on journeys outside the UK.

You can find more information about the permit scheme on the government website.

Who can drive a minibus under the permit scheme?

Licences issued before January 1997

Drivers who passed their test before 1 January 1997 will usually hold a D1 101 (not for hire or reward) entitlement on their license. This allows them to drive a minibus under the permit scheme without additional conditions.

This entitlement will remain on the license until in expires when the driver reaches 70 years old, or it is removed by the DVLA (usually for health reasons).

Licenses issued after January 1997

If you passed your test after 1 January 1997, you will not automatically have a D1 101 entitlement on your license. To drive a minibus under the permit scheme, you will need to meet the following conditions:

  • You’ve held a license for 2 years
  • You’re aged 21 or over, but under 70
  • You’re not receiving payment or other consideration for driving, other than out-of-pocket expenses
  • You’re not towing a trailer
  • The vehicle’s Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) doesn’t exceed 3.5 tonnes, or 4.25 tonnes if the vehicle is adapted with specialist accessible equipment (e.g. a tail lift)

Further help

More information on driving entitlement requirements is available from the government website.

The Community Transport Association have provided further information on driving a minibus bus if you’re over 70, as well as lots of other helpful FAQs.

Some districts and counties ask leaders to complete Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MiDAS) training before driving a minibus. This is operated by the Community Transport Association, with further details available on their website.

Using a Section 19 permit

A section 19 permit is valid for five years, and will have the expiry date written on it. You’ll need to keep track and renew your permit once it expires.

You’ll need one permit per vehicle - they’re not tied to a particular driver – and each group, district or county will need to apply for their own permit as they’re non-transferable.

Permits are required regardless of whether the minibus is yours, borrowed (e.g. from a local school or community group) or hired.

Permits for groups are held at group-level, so you won’t need one for each section. If an Explorer Scout Unit has a partnership agreement with a group, they can share the permit as long as they are travelling together. If the Unit are taking the minibus out on their own, they’ll need their own permit.

This permit must be displayed when the vehicle is in use, and not doing so could lead to prosecution.

Applying for a Section 19 permit

We're able to complete the paperwork and issue a permit for you, at a cost of £5.00 per permit.

Once you've submitted your application, we'll give you a ring and take card payment over the phone. There is a delay in taking payment at the moment, so please apply in plenty of time. Our team are happy to prove their identity when calling (for example, by confirming your membership number to you).

We aim to post your permit by 2nd Class post within 14 days of receiving your payment.

You can also apply for a Section 19 permit directly from the Officer of the Traffic Commissioner.

If you have lost your permit, you'll need to apply and pay for a new one, as we're unable to issue a replacement. Please make sure you keep it safe.