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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. In most cases, the driver would also require a passenger carrying vehicle entitlement on their driving licence.

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

If payment's 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 public, or on journeys outside the UK.

Take a look on the government website for information about the permit scheme.

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 licence. This allows them to drive a minibus under the permit scheme without additional conditions.

This entitlement will remain on the licence until it expires when the driver reaches 70 years old, or it's removed by the DVLA (such as for health reasons).

Licences issued after January 1997

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

  • You've held a licence 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 (for example, a tail lift)

Further help on driving entitlement requirements

Visit the government website for more information on driving entitlement requirements.

The Community Transport Association has 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 volunteers 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 Section 19 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 (such as 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're 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

Applying for a Section 19 permit with Scouts

We're able to complete the paperwork and issue a permit for you at a cost of £10 per permit.

Once you've submitted your application, we'll give you a ring and take card payment over the phone. There's a delay in taking payment at the moment, so please apply in plenty of time.

Our team is happy to prove their identity when calling (for example, by confirming your membership number to you).

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

Applying for a Section 19 permit directly with the Officer of the Traffic Commissioner

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

Lost permits

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