of Bus Operator Licences
about all types of Bus Operators Licences and what licence you should apply for.
I need a bus operators Licence?
You will need a bus operator’s licence if: your vehicle carries passengers by
road for payment (this is called hire or reward); and the vehicle is classed as
a Public Service Vehicle (PSV). Those Vehicles outside Operating Licence Requirements
are listed elsewhere on the site.
What is hire or reward?
Hire or reward is any sort of payment which gives a person a right to be carried
on a vehicle regardless of whether a profit is made or not. The payment may be
made by the person himself, or on his behalf and may be a direct payment (such
as a fare or other payment made directly in respect of the journey) or an indirect
payment (such as a membership subscription to a club, payment for a bed in a hotel,
school fees or payment for concert tickets). Although such indirect payments are
usually made in respect of other services (rather than for transport) they are
nonetheless viewed by the courts as hire or reward because anyone who had not
made the payment would have no right to be carried.
How many types of licence are there?
There are four kinds of licence:
• a standard licence - for national and international operations;
• a standard licence - for national operations only;
• a restricted licence - for small operations only; and
• a special licence - for holders of taxi licences only (see Special PSV O Licences).
What is a standard licence?
Standard licences are used by most full time commercial operators. To get a standard
licence you, or your transport manager, must satisfy the requirement of professional
competence. (The meaning of professional competence is explained further on).
If the requirement of professional competence is met for both national and international
operations, you can get a standard international licence. This allows you to take
passengers abroad as well as to operate in Great Britain.
If you or your transport manager can only claim professional competence for national
operations, you will only be able to get a standard national licence. There are
also other requirements you must meet before your licence is granted, these are
What is a restricted licence?
Restricted licences are used by small-scale operators since they only allow the
operator to use one or two vehicles. Neither of these vehicles must be constructed
to carry more than: 8 passengers; although vehicles carrying up to 16 passengers
may be used if either:
• the vehicles are not used as part of a passenger transport business (e.g. they
are used in connection with a hotel business), or
• your main job is not the operation of PSVs which are able to carry 9 or more
passengers (ie the operation of the minibus(es) is a sideline and not your main
You do not have to satisfy the requirement of professional competence to get a
restricted licence, but all other requirements are the same as for a standard
licence. You must apply in the same way, and obey the same rules.
What is a special licence?
A special licence can be granted only to someone who already holds a taxi licence.
Its only use is to let a licensed taxi operate on a local service. The way you
apply and all the other rules are quite different from all other types of licence;
they are set out in see Special PSV O Licences.
If you are only interested in getting a special licence go straight to see Special
PSV O Licences and ignore the rest of this site section.
You should also see the guide to local bus service registration elsewhere on this
website or the Transport for London website for details of London local service
licensing, as appropriate.
How many bus operators’ licences will I need?
There are 8 traffic areas in Great Britain. You must have a licence for each traffic
area in which you have an operating centre. An operating centre is the place where
your vehicles are normally kept. The licence will tell you how many vehicles you
are authorised to operate at any one time. You can use your vehicles anywhere
in Great Britain, as long as they are normally kept in the traffic area that issued