Coaches and minibuses

All you need to know to use a minibus, coach or other bus for a Girlguiding trip or activity

If you are driving a coach, bus or minibus, this is what you should do

If you need to transport your unit, it's often a good idea to hire a coach, bus or minibus as these often come with a driver. However, you may want to drive the vehicle yourself. In this case, you must follow the guidance below.

Coaches and large buses

To drive a bus designed to carry more than 16 passengers, you need a Large Bus Permit.

You can get further information about the Large Bus Permit and driver qualifications for large buses from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency or Community Transport Association.

  • There must be at least one adult in addition to the driver travelling in the vehicle. The Leader must ensure that the appropriate ratio of adults to children is maintained throughout the journey.
  • For long journeys, the Leadership team should discuss with the driver how many hours they are prepared to drive, where breaks can be taken and if a second driver is needed.
  • A contingency plan should be in place in case the journey is delayed due to traffic, weather or other reasons.
  • Drivers must follow the rules of the current Road Traffic Act and Highway Code and must not drive for continuous long periods, when tired, in extreme weather, when above the legal alcohol level or if on medication with side effects that impair driving.
  • Every passenger must have their own seat.
  • Seat belts must be fitted to all coach seats and worn by all passengers.

Minibuses and small buses

To drive a small bus or minibus designed to carry 9 to 16 passengers, you need a Small Bus Permit. If passengers are contributing to the cost of the journey - even indirectly - then a Small Bus Permit is required.

  • The Small Bus Permit is issued to a permit holder, for example a unit.
  • The permit covers any single minibus used by the permit holder.
  • If more than one minibus is used at any one time, then an additional permit is required for each extra vehicle.
  • The Permit must be displayed within the vehicle when it is in use so it is clearly visible from the outside.
  • Other organisations, such as The Scout Association, who use the vehicle will need their own Small Bus Permit.

Applying for Small Bus Permits

  • Girlguiding is authorised by the Department for Transport to issue Small Bus Permits, and these can be obtained from the Information team on 0161 941 2237 or [email protected]. Permits are also available from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
  • Permits are valid for five years. Applications for permits should be made to the Information team at least four weeks before they are required.

Use of small buses

  • There must be at least one adult in addition to the driver travelling in the vehicle. The Leader must ensure that the appropriate ratio of adults to children is maintained throughout the journey.
  • For a journey expected to exceed two hours, the driving should be shared by two appropriately qualified drivers.
  • Every passenger must have their own seat.
  • Seat belts must be fitted to all minibus seats and worn by all passengers.
  • Children aged 16 or under travelling in a minibus must sit in forward-facing seats fitted to the vehicle in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Using rear- and side-facing seats is prohibited.

Drivers of small buses

In all cases, the driver must:

  • be 21 years old or over
  • be driving on a voluntary basis and not for payment
  • have held a full UK driving licence for at least three years
  • have no more than three current penalty points on their licence.

You can drive a minibus using a full UK Car Driving Licence if:

  • the vehicle can carry between 9 and 16 passengers
  • the maximum weight of the minibus is not more than 3.5 tonnes, or 4.25 tonnes including specialist equipment for disabled passengers, such as a wheelchair ramp.

If the minibus is heavier than this, the driver will be required to pass a recognised minibus driving course and gain the D1 category on their Driving Licence.

However, if the driver gained a full UK Car Driving Licence before 1 January 1997, the D1 category will already be included on the licence. This person can drive all vehicles with up to 16 passenger seats.

The driver must ensure that the vehicle:

  • displays a valid Small Bus Permit
  • is roadworthy.

If towing a trailer, the driver must have either:

  • gained a full driver’s licence before 1 January 1997
  • completed further training and assessment in towing.

Further information about minibus driving can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Make sure your vehicle is insured

Read more about how to make sure you have the right vehicle insurance.