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What Is A D1 Licence?

What Is A D1 Licence?

If you’ve been driving in the UK long enough, you’ll have come to realise that licence requirements vary. For example, the licence required to drive a van differs from the one you need to drive a truck. If you’re looking to drive a minibus, however, the D1 licence is what you’ll be interested in. What is a D1 licence? This article covers everything you need to know about this licence category, so keep reading.

What Is A D1 Licence?

White Minibus On The Road

A D1 licence is a licence category that allows you to drive minibuses with between 9 and 16 passenger seats in the United Kingdom. Anyone with this licence category can drive vehicles up to a length of 8 metres and tow trailers with a maximum weight of 0.75 tonnes (750 kg). The D1 falls under a broader category of licences called Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) operator licences, which allow you to drive passenger vehicles.

If you passed your driving test before the date: January 1, 1997, you’re in luck, as you’ll automatically have category D1 on your full driving licence.

The Process Of Obtaining A D1 Licence

Now, let’s get into the steps to obtain a D1 provisional licence. For starters, you have to be at least 21 years old and have held a valid Category B licence for more than two years. You must also have no more than six penalty points on your current licence. Once these things are in place, follow the steps below:

  • Fill out a D2 form: Fill out an application form for the provisional entitlement and send it to the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) or traffic offices near you.
  • Visit your GP: As you’ll be transporting people, you need to prove that you’re medically fit to get this licence. This involves passing a medical examination. Your general practitioner (GP) will carry out a medical test and fill out an application form D4 on your behalf for the provisional entitlement.
  • Take a theory and practical driving test: Your quest for the D1 licence ends with a theory and practical test. You need to pass both the theory test and practical driving D1 test to secure your category D1 licence.

See here for our full guide on how to get a D1 licence.

Can I Drive A Minibus Without A D1 Driving Licence?

Yes, you can drive a minibus without a D1 driving licence, provided that the minibus doesn’t weigh more than 3.5 tonnes (3,500 kg). However, it doesn’t end there. You’ll also have to meet a number of criteria:

  • You must be over the age of 21.
  • You must be driving on a voluntary basis for a non-commercial body.
  • You must have held a full driving licence (Category B) for two years or more.
  • You need to meet the Group 2 medical standards if you’re over 70 years old.

Find out what qualifies as a minibus in the UK.

Additional Licences & Permissions

Unfortunately, if you want to drive a minibus for pay in the UK, it doesn’t stop at the D1. The D1 only allows you to operate the minibus for non-commercial purposes. You need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to drive a minibus commercially. The European Union introduced the Certificate of Professional Competence in 2008 to increase safety and professionalism on the road.

In addition to the D1, a range of other PCV operator licences allow you to drive a minibus for work purposes, provided that you already have a CPC. They include the D1+E, D and D+E licences.

If you’re looking to transport cargo instead, you’ll be more interested in the C1 licence.

Benefits Of Holding A D1 Licence

Minibus Moving On City Streets

While a D1 licence itself doesn’t directly offer financial benefits, it unlocks a variety of opportunities as a minibus driver, such as:

  • Increased employment opportunities: The D1 alone won’t qualify you for driving jobs, but it is one of the requirements if you want to be driving minibuses for work purposes.
  • Group travel: A D1 licence allows the legal driving of minibuses, making it easier to transport groups to various locations.
  • Volunteer work: With A D1, you can drive a minibus for a charitable organisation without requiring any additional licence.
  • Legal compliance: Finally, holding a D1 licence ensures you’re legally compliant with the driving laws of the UK when transporting passengers for hire or reward.

Hire a 17-seater minibus from SDVH and transport large groups conveniently. We also offer 7-seater minibuses with basic licence requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone looking to drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats needs a D1 licence. A D1 licence allows coach drivers to carry up to 16 passengers and a load of 0.75 tonnes (750 kg) in a vehicle that has a maximum length of 8 m (26 ft). You can transport family and friends around the country or secure the CPC qualification to drive commercially.

The difference between the D1 and the D1+E licences is their towing capacity. The D1 licence restricts towing to trailers not exceeding 0.75 tonnes (750 kg) in maximum weight. The D1+E also permits driving minibuses with up to 16 passenger seats, along with a combined MAM of 12 tonnes (12,000 kg) for the vehicle and trailer.

A D1 licence costs between £800 and £1,800, depending on your location and training provider. Expect to spend around £100 for the medical examination. You’ll also have to pay for the theory tuition and test, but the priciest element is the practical test and course, which can set you back up to £1,600, depending on your location.

You can drive vehicles with 16 passenger seats on a category D1 licence. However, these buses cannot exceed 8 m (26 ft) in length and have a maximum weight of more than 0.75 tonnes (750 kg). Also, remember that the D1 licence doesn’t permit you to drive commercially. You’ll also need to secure the Drivers CPC to charge passengers.

Competency and safe driving are the skills examined during a D1 practical test. The examiner monitors vehicle control, manoeuvres and your use of mirrors. The test also focuses on your road positioning, general driving skills and whether you understand and correctly respond to traffic signals and markings like stop lines and lane markings.


So, what is a D1 licence? This is your passport as a minibus driver in the UK, granting you access to a vehicle with between 9 and 16 passenger seats. Whether you’re looking to legally drive for pay or just want to be able to transport your large group of friends on a road trip, the D1 entitlement is a basic necessity.

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