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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 cannot 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.

Driving a minibus

You can drive a minibus under the permit scheme as long as the following conditions are met:

  • You’re 21 or older
  • You’ve had a driving license for at least 2 years
  • You meet ‘Group 2’ medical standards if you’re over 70
  • The maximum weight of the minibus is not more than 3.5 tonnes – or 4.25 tonnes including specialist equipment for disabled passengers (e.g. a ramp)
  • You’re not towing a trailer

More information is available from the government website.

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 5 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 are able to complete the paperwork and issue a permit for you, at a cost of £5.00 per permit.

We accept payment by cheque or card. Please make cheques payable to The Scout Association and send to Minibus Permits, Gilwell Park, Chingford, E4 7QW. If you prefer, we’ll give you a ring and take a card payment over the phone.

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 will need to apply and pay for a new one, as we are unable to issue a replacement. Please make sure you keep it safe.