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School Minibus Driver Licensing

What are the Driving Licence Requirements for a School Minibus?  

When a school (or charity/community group) operates a minibus, it is imperative to understand the driving licence obligations which apply. Failure to do so could lead to insurance withdrawal or prosecution. While we endeavour to provide full information, what is contained below does not constitute legal advice. Please can you therefore access the following link, which contains a step by step guide on what vehicle an individual can drive – Government Guidelines


Hire or Reward  

Those who operate a minibus for “Hire or Reward” need to adhere to slightly different sets of rules and obligations which apply to schools (or other bodies). However, the phrase “hire or reward” has been interpreted widely. Depending upon your status as a school, it important to understand how you intend to operate the minibus on a day to day basis. For certain schools, including minibus travel within fees or including the right to use a minibus (whether exercised or not) needs to be carefully considered.



Driving Licence – What should you Check?

Any teaching staff (voluntary or employed) must hold a full and valid driving licence. Smaller vehicles may be driven on car driving licence. Additionally, bigger vehicles, including larger minibuses, can also be driven on a car driving licence so long as you establish that a driver possesses category D1 on their licence.

For drivers who passed their test before 1 January 1997, category D1 should already be on their licence. For those who do not have category D1 on their licence (generally drivers who passed their test one or after 1 January 1997) while they can operate a minibus, you must ensure the following conditions are adhered to:


  • Driver is 21 years or older;
  • Driver has held their licence for 2 years or more;
  • The use must not include hire or reward;
  • Vehicle must have no more than 16 passenger seats;
  • Minibus must be 3.5 tonnes or less (4.25 tonnes if specialist equipment included); and
  • The Vehicle is not towing a trailer.


Alternatively, should a driver not have category D1 they can apply to have this included by completing form D2.


Section 19 Permits

A Section 19 permit allows certain educational and community institutions to operate a minibus without a PSV operator licence. An organisation without a view to profit will include:

  • Education;
  • Religion;
  • Social welfare; and
  • Recreation.

A school will need to apply for their permit before obtaining the vehicle. To assist in this, please access the following link for information on the application process –





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