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A drivers guide to driving in the UK
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Bus Drivers Licence Information

Information for Bus drivers in relation to Driving Tests they have to complete and the categories they have to apply for on the Drivers Licence. All new and Current Bus drivers have to complete a Driver CPC certificate, find out what in involves.

Licence Categories
Driver CPC

Category D1 Licence.

Minibus – this is a small PCV with more than 8 but not more than 16 seats (in addition to the driver) with a trailer up to 750 kg. People who passed their car test before January 1997 may already hold a D1 restricted licence for social and pleasure use. However, anyone driving a vehicle with more than 7 seats for hire or reward will need to pass their D1 driving test to have the full PCV entitlement.

If you had entitlement to drive cars prior to 1 January 1997 - shown as group A (B for automatics) on an old style green or pink licence or as category B and D1 not for hire or reward on a pink and green or photocard licence - you can drive a minibus provided:

You are 21 or over, the minibus has a maximum of 17 seats including the driver’s seat and is not being used for hire or reward.

To drive a minibus which has 9 or more passenger seats for hire or reward you will normally need passenger carrying vehicle entitlement [PCV] (category D1 or D). To obtain this you must meet higher medical standards and take a further driving test.

Hire or reward encompasses any payment in cash or kind by (or on behalf of) passengers which gives them a right to be carried.

However, if you drive a minibus for an organisation under the Minibus or Community Bus Permit Scheme, you will NOT need a category D1 or D licence even if a charge is made to passengers.

Drivers who do not have minibus entitlement (Category D1)

If your driving licence does not allow you to drive minibuses, there are certain circumstances where you still may be able to do so.

You may drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats if:

•You drive on behalf of a non commercial body for social purposes but not for hire or reward, unless operating under a permit.
•You are aged 21
•You have held a car (category B) licence for at least 2 years
•You are providing your service on a voluntary basis and
•The minibus maximum weight is not more than 3.5 tonnes excluding any specialist equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers. Minibuses up to 4.25 tonnes will be permitted in certain circumstances.
•If you are aged 70 and over, you are able to meet the health standards for driving a vehicle (i.e. minibus) which comes within the D1 class.

When driving a minibus under these conditions you may not receive any payment or consideration for doing so other than out of pocket expenses or tow any size trailer; you may only drive minibuses in this country.

Drivers aged 70 or over will need to make a special application which involves meeting higher medical standards. If you wish to carry fare paying passengers then you are required to pass an additional driving test in order to remove the "101" licence restriction, you will also need to meet the higher medical standards and apply for your provisional licence, pass a PCV theory test and undertake the practical training and test.

Drivers who passed a car test on or after 1 January 1997 are required to pass an additional driving test in order to gain this category of licence, will not have this licence category, to apply you will need to meet the higher medical standards and apply for your provisional licence, pass a PCV theory test and undertake the practical training and test.

At the age of 18

1.While learning to drive or taking passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) test; or
2.After passing a PCV test when:
•Driving on a regular service where the route does not exceed 50km, or
•Driving a PCV constructed to carry no more than 16 passengers, and
•The vehicle is operated under a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence or permit.
3.Not engaged in the carriage of passengers
Minibus And Community Bus Permits

Minibus and Community Bus Permits are issued to organisations concerned with education, religion, social welfare, recreation or other activities of benefit to the community.

Minibus Permits allow certain organisations to make a charge without having to comply with the full public service vehicle operator licensing requirements and without the need for their drivers to have PCV (category D1 or D) entitlement. The service must be provided 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 Permits are issued to bodies wishing to run a local bus service on a voluntary non-profit basis using unpaid volunteer drivers. Members of the general public can be carried in the minibus.

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 (Category D1, not for hire or reward) remains in force. New drivers who passed their car test (category B) on or after 1 January 1997 may also drive a permit minibus provided the driver licensing conditions 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 either PCV D1 or D entitlement

D1 Test

Medical clearance
Drivers of passenger carrying vehicles, including minibuses, have to satisfy a higher medical standard than car drivers. To obtain the appropriate medical clearance, first obtain the form D4, available from a Post Office. This form will need to be completed by a medical practitioner, usually your own GP, and must accompany your D1 driving licence application form. GP’s are likely to charge you in the region of £80 for this service.

Upon receipt of your licence, containing provisional D1 entitlement, you are entitled to drive a minibus provided: -

Your minibus displays regulation L plates at the front and rear.
Your are accompanied by another driver who holds a licence with category D1 entitlement.
The D1 minibus driving test

There are two tests, which have to be passed in order to gain full category D1 entitlement, a theory test and a practical driving test. The theory test has to be passed before being allowed to take the practical test.

The Theory Test

Consists of 35 multiple choice questions, time allowed 40 minutes. The test is computer based and the pass mark is 30 correct out of 35. Some questions require multiple responses.

In addition to the above, there is now a computer based hazard perception test. On completion of the multiple-choice test you have the option of a three-minute break followed by an optional practice session lasting 15 minutes. You can take the hazard perception test immediately if you prefer.

The hazard perception test consists of 15 video clips which contain a number of hazards that you must identify. The pass mark for this category of vehicle is 50 correct out of 75.

You will be given your results immediately on completion of both parts of this test. You have to pass both parts at the same time. A certificate will also be provided.

The Practical Test

The practical test must be taken in a minibus, which you must provide yourself. The test lasts for 90 minutes, during which you will be required to demonstrate a safe and competent driving standard. Each driving fault will be assessed and recorded by your examiner. One or more serious or dangerous faults will result in failure, as will 16 or more minor faults.

As well as conducting a number of off-road manoeuvres, you will be required to drive on a variety of roads both urban and rural and answer some questions on basic vehicle maintenance.

Practical minibus tests are conducted at heavy good vehicle testing stations, not local car driving test centres. The DSA will be able to provide details and addresses.

The standard required to pass a minibus driving test is high and you would be advised to seek professional guidance before taking such a test.

Applying for both tests

You can book the theory or practical test by telephone, via the internet or by means of an application form available from local driving test centres.

Category D Licence

Coach or Bus – this is a large bus for hire or reward with more than 8 passenger seats with a trailer up to 750 kg. Once this licence category is obtained, any size of PCV can be driven for hire or reward and can be either a single or a double decker bus.

To become a PCV driver you must possess a high degree of skill in the handling of your vehicle and also be prepared to make allowances for the behaviour of others.

The right attitude and approach to your driving, together with a sound knowledge of professional driving techniques and the ability to apply those techniques, are essential.

You will be required to undertake a medical examination to comply with the higher medical regulations that this licence category requires which we can arrange for you. Once you have had your medical you will need to apply for your provisional vocational licence.

Once your licence has been approved and returned to you your theory test can be arranged, the theory test is made up of two parts; the multiple-choice part and the hazard perception part. The multiple choice part is delivered using a touch screen computer and mouse and the hazard perception part records your responses through the use of a computer mouse button.

You need to pass both parts to pass the theory test. If you pass one part and fail the other you will fail the whole test, and you will need to take both parts again.

For the hazard perception test there are no separate versions for different vehicles, each vehicle category takes the same test, however the pass mark is different for different categories of tests.

Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)

A new qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers - the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) - has been given the Government go-ahead. In future, just holding a vocational driving licence will not be sufficient for someone who wishes to drive such vehicles for a living.

The Driving Standards Agency is taking the lead in implementing EU Directive 2003/59 which requires all professional bus, coach and lorry drivers to hold a CPC in addition to their vocational driving licence. It came into force across all European Union member states on 10 September 2008 for bus and coach drivers and 10 September 2009 for lorry drivers.

The main benefit is road safety and better qualified drivers to help reduce road casualties. Driver CPC also brings an improved professional and positive image to the profession, attracting more people to drive buses, coaches and lorries for a living. It is aimed not only at improving the knowledge and skills of LGV and PCV drivers when they start work, but also at ensuring these skills are maintained and developed throughout their working life.

Driver CPC require all category C and D licence holders (including C1 and D1) to take part in 35 hours training every 5 years in order to maintain their CPC. It also introduces a new initial qualification process that new drivers must complete before they can drive professionally.

Driver CPC enables young people to enter these sectors in a safe and professional manner, from 18 years of age, subject to any licence restrictions for category D drivers.


New drivers acquiring a vocational licence entitlement and intending to work as a driver must obtain a Driver CPC before they can drive professionally.

To minimise cost and inconvenience, the DSA offer new drivers the opportunity to acquire the Driver CPC at the same time as they obtain their vocational driving licence.

Driver CPC will be acquired by completing 4 hours of theory testing and 2 hours of practical tests. The tests can be taken in modules that will support drivers who may be exempt from Driver CPC, or who were exempt and now need their CPC. The modules are:

1.2½ hours theory test
2.1½ hours theory test (case studies)
3.1½ hours practical test
4.½ hour practical demonstration of vehicle safety
The following table illustrates the modular approach to acquiring a vocational licence and/or Driver CPC:

 Module 1Module 2Module 3Module 4
Licence Acquisition only* * 
Full CPC****
Upgrade  * *

Periodic Training

Modules 1 and 2 can be taken in any order, as can modules 3 and 4.

Candidates must complete module 1 before they can take module 3 and must complete module 2 before they can take module 4.

All professional vocational drivers must undertake periodic training in order to maintain their Driver CPC.

Drivers will have to complete a minimum of 35 hours of approved training every 5 years. Each training course must be of a minimum length of 7 hours, with the 7 hours being defined as contact time with the trainer. Each training course must be delivered within a 24 hours period.

All training must be taken with an approved training centre and on an approved training course. Records of training taken by drivers will be kept centrally.

All approved training centres and training courses will be subject to audit and approval may be withdrawn if it is found that centres or courses are not complying with the approval criteria.

Drivers who are deemed to hold Driver CPC by acquired rights must complete their periodic training within 5 years of the introduction of Driver CPC:

1.for PCV licence holders, by 10 Sept 2013
2.for LGV licence holders, by 10 Sept 2014

Drivers who gain their Driver CPC by completing the initial qualification must complete their first cycle of periodic training within 5 years of the date they acquired their Driver CPC.

Drivers who do not maintain their Driver CPC, i.e. because they leave the industries, but who want to start working as a professional driver again, must complete 35 hours of periodic training in order to regain their Driver CPC. They must complete the training before they can resume working professionally.

Drivers holding both lorry and bus and coach licence entitlement will only be required to complete 35 hours of approved training every 5 years.


Drivers of the following vehicles will not be required to hold a Driver CPC:

•A vehicle with a maximum authorised speed not exceeding 45 km/h
•A vehicle used by, or under the control of, the armed forces, a police force, a fire and rescue authority
•A vehicle undergoing road tests for technical development, repair or maintenance purposes, or of new or rebuilt Vehicles which have not yet been put into service
•A vehicle used in a state of emergency or assigned to a rescue mission
•A vehicle used in the course of driving lessons for the purpose of enabling that person to obtain a driving licence or a CPC
•A vehicle used for non-commercial carriage of passengers or goods for personal use
•A vehicle carrying material or equipment to be used by that person in the course of his or her work, provided that driving that vehicle is not that person’s principal activity.

An example of a driver under exemption vii (also known as "incidental driver") would be a brick layer who drives a load of bricks from the builder’s yard to the building site and then spends their working day laying bricks. In this case, driving a lorry is incidental to their main occupation.

However, drivers can move in and out of an exemption, depending on the circumstances in which they are driving. For example, a bus mechanic would be exempt while driving a bus to check that it had been repaired, but would need to hold a Driver CPC if they also drove a bus on a passenger carrying service.

Initial Qualification

Module 1 – Multiple Choice questions and Hazard Perception clips
Module 1 consists of two separate tests. The first will be 100 multiple choice questions (of which the pass mark is 85) and the second 19 hazard perception clips with 20 score-able hazards (of which the pass mark is 67 out of 100). The two tests will take a total of 2 ½ hours to complete, but can be taken separately and in either order.

Module 2 – Case Studies

In addition to passing module 1, to obtain your Driver CPC you will also need to pass module 2. This module is a computer based test and uses case studies, each one based on real-life scenarios you may encounter in your working life. It aims to test your knowledge and how you put it into practice. Written by experts from the industry, questions are based around the case study and you will be asked to answer in a number of different ways such as multiple choice answers, clicking an area on a photograph/ image or by typing in a short answer. Each test will be made up of 7 case studies, each one with 6 – 8 questions, with a possible maximum score of 50 (of which the pass mark will be 38). The test will take
1½ hours to complete and can be taken at the same test centre as module 1.

Module 3 – Practical Test

From 10th September 2008 the practical on-road driving test was developed to include an Eco-Safe Driving assessment. Although this will not contribute to the result of the test, during the test the examiner will assess your ability to control the vehicle and plan your drive in an eco-safe manner. If you do not do so this will be recorded on the test report form. You will be handed further information on eco-safe driving at the end of the test.
Actual on-road driving time for all rigid categories is a minimum of 1 hour. This will give examiners the opportunity to assess a candidate’s driving in varied traffic conditions and on a wide variety of roads.

Module 4 – Driver CPC Practical Test

In addition to passing module 3, to obtain your Driver CPC you will also need to pass module 4, a practical test focussing on vehicle safety which has been developed with the support and advice of the industry. In this ½ hour test you will be required to demonstrate your knowledge and ability in the areas listed below:

• Ability to load the vehicle with due regard for safety rules and proper vehicle use
• Security of the vehicle and contents
• Ability to prevent criminality and trafficking in illegal immigrants
• Ability to assess emergency situations
• Ability to prevent physical risk
• Demonstrate your ability through a physical, walk round vehicle safety check

The test consists of 5 topic areas which cover the Driver CPC syllabus and in order
to pass the candidate has to score 15 out of a possible 20 points in each topic area
(75%) and an overall score of 80%.

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