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The facts about lightweight minibuses

"Our solicitors advise that there is a strong risk of prosecution for driving without a proper licence for the vehicle" - Hertfordshire County Council Hertfordshire County Council Logo

Castle is a trusted advisor to over 1500 schools, academies and colleges across the UK and endeavour to guide our customers through the fog regarding driving a lightweight minibus.


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Light weight minibuses the facts:

The following manufacturers do not produce a minibus from their factories that has a gross vehicle weight of less than 3.5 tonnes and carries more than 11 passengers.

Car manufacturers logo

Why is this?

Because they are not in the business of taking risks. A lightweight minibus is just a converted van.

What do our neighbours do?

European flag

In most European countries now a D1 driving license is required to drive a minibus with more than 8 passengers.

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Closer to home

Hertfordshire County Council

We agree with the following statement from Hertfordshire county council “The exemption only applies to minibuses with a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes fully loaded, excluding any specialised equipment for carrying disabled passengers. Many newer minibuses are over this weight limit; e.g. Ford Transit is 4.1 tonnes. The weight limit will not be changed. If a teacher relied upon the exemption and drove a minibus weighing less than 3.5 tonnes, the school might then replace it with a new heavier vehicle and the teacher could end up driving illegally if this was not picked up.”

“There is no decided case law as to whether a teacher requires D1 entitlement on their licence when driving the school minibus. Due to the uncertainty of the law, it is Hertfordshire County Council’s position to be prudent. Our solicitors advise that there is a strong risk of prosecution for driving without a proper licence for the vehicle.”

Visit Hertfordshire County Council's website

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National Union Of Teachers

"When schools buy a minibus, it is strongly recommended that a purpose-built vehicle is chosen rather than a converted van. The problem with converted vans is that they are not necessarily designed for the weight that may be carried, particularly if pupils are in wheelchairs. This can contribute to accidents."

Visit the National Union Of Teachers website

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Bedford Borough Council

Minibus Advice and Guidance

"We insist that all drivers employed by Bedford Borough Council hold category D1 minibus entitlement on their driving licence. Although there are circumstances where the law allows drivers in the voluntary sector to drive on a car licence (category B), solicitors advise that the exemption does not apply to school teachers nor anyone else driving in the course of their paid employment. This is regardless of whether their contract of employment requires them to drive. Please do not accept the advice of any one selling a minibus regarding the legallity of driving a school minibus on a car licence."

Visit Bedford Borough Council's website

Birmingham Council

Minibus Policy

"All drivers of minibuses and wheelchair accessible vehicles must hold a class”D1” classification on their driving licence".

Source - Home to school transport policy - September 2013

Visit Birmingham County Council's website

Cheshire County Council

Minibus Policy

"All drivers who wish to drive a minibus must attend an approved driver assessment course. This will normally be the Cheshire Minibus Driver Assessment Scheme [CMDAS]. Other minibus driver assessment schemes, such as the Community Transport Association [CTA] Minibus Driver Assessment Scheme [MIDAS], may also be acceptable. Drivers are advised to contact Cheshire East Road Safety Unit for advice before driving a minibus or to arrange attendance on the Cheshire scheme".

Click here to view Cheshire County Council's Policy

Worcestershire County Council

Entitlement to drive a minibus

"If a driver passed their test after 1/1/97 they are only legally able to drive vehicles under 3500kg provided they satisfy all requirements of the Section 19 permit. However under the terms of Worcestershire's long standing policy, they are unable to drive any minibus in connection with WCC activities. Drivers wishing to use a minibus vehicle must undertake a full 01 driving test and then renew the WCC permit every three years".

Click here to view Worcestershire Council's Policy

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