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Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Minibus and community bus permits

Some voluntary operators of minibuses and, in a few cases, larger buses, are able to carry fare-paying passengers under certain restricted conditions without the need of having a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) licence.

Minibus permit

Minibus permits allow certain organisations to make a charge without having to comply with the full passenger carrying vehicle entitlement (PCV) operator licensing requirements and without the need for their drivers to have PCV entitlement. An example of such organisations would be volunteer groups concerned with education, religion, social welfare, recreations and other activities that are beneficial to the community.

The minibus permit is for a vehicle that can carry between nine and sixteen passengers and can be obtained from the Traffic Commissioners or designated bodies such as a local authority and various national charities or church organisations.

The service provided must be for their own members or for groups of people whom the organisation serves. The service must not be provided to members of the general public and the charges made must be on a non-profit basis.

Community bus permit

Community bus permits are also available from the Traffic Commissioner. They are issued to bodies wishing to run a local bus service on a voluntary non-profit basis using unpaid volunteer drivers. An example of this would be where there is no bus service for a local community and volunteers sponsored by their local authority would run the service. Members of the general public can be carried in the vehicle and the main use would be to give the public a local service.

The operator may also use the vehicle for non-local services (eg contract hire), if allowed by the Traffic Commissioner. This may be possible if the purpose was to help give back financial support to the local operation. Community bus operators have to run their service as reliably as professional operators. The Traffic Commissioner must also be satisfied that their maintenance facilities or arrangements are good enough. He can revoke the permit if standards are not kept up.

Can I drive under the permit scheme?

If you had entitlement to drive cars prior to 1 January 1997 you will continue to be able to drive minibuses under the permit schemes, provided your entitlement to drive minibuses (not for hire or reward) remains in force. New drivers who passed their car test on or after 1 January 1997 may also drive a permit minibus provided the driver licensing conditions for those who do not have minibus entitlement are met.


  • the permit arrangements apply only in the UK
  • you cannot take a permit minibus abroad if it is used for hire or reward unless you hold PCV entitlement

Further information

Further information is available from the booklet 'Passenger Transport Provided by Voluntary Groups' available from Vehicle Operator and Services Agency

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