How To Get A D1 Minibus Licence

A couple of years back I wrote what would soon be my most popular event article. How To Drive A Minibus Legally. That article is slightly out of date (I’ll be updating it in the next fortnight) but it’s still mostly good, it’ll also help you make sense of some of the terms in this article. If you come away from reading it thinking I need to get a D1 licence to drive a minibus, then this article is for you.

Upgrade Your Licence

First, you need to upgrade your current licence. Go to the post-office or go online and obtain a D2 form. This form allows you to add provisional categories to your licence. You want to add the D1 category to your licence but as it is no extra to add other large vehicle categories you may as well add a full D category (that’s for regular buses not just minibuses) and the full C category (that’s lorries and cool things like that) to your licence. (Just tick all the boxes in the first bullet point of section 1). The D2 form is slightly confusing because there are large sections that you don’t have to fill in if your current licence is up to date, so don’t worry if you leave loads of sections blank. Here is a copy of the form so you can see it (pdf).

Second, you’ll need to download a D4 Medical Examination Report form and take this to your GP (or ring them up if they aren’t round the corner from you) and make an appointment with them to get the form filled in. Really, they should have the form at their surgery but you should take the form with you because they won’t and that way they’ll know what you’re talking about. A GP will go through the form with you and assess whether you’re healthy to drive a minibus. These are questions like “are you especially likely to collapse from a fit, stroke, or heart attack in the next ten years?” and “have you got full use of your limbs, eyes, and brain?”. The eyesight test is slightly more rigorous than it is for a car (I have to wear glasses to drive a bus but don’t a car) but other than that it’s fairly straight forward. Your GP will charge you for this and the charge is set locally. My GPs charged me £20 because I was fit and healthy and it only took ten minutes, your mileage may vary. (There are plenty of GPs who advertise online that they do this service, sometimes for up to £90. These seem verging on scams.)

With your two forms completed stick them with your driving licence and counterpart in the envelope that comes with the forms and post them off to the DVLA. You won’t have to pay anything unless you’re also updating your photo or something. You’ll want to photocopy these forms first as there is nothing the DVLA like doing more than losing forms it seems1. In two weeks you’ll get a shiny new licence back. Your plastic photo card licence will look no different, but your counterpart will have the added provisional categories.

Pass Your Theory Tests

When your driving licence comes back, you can now go online and book your theory tests with the DVLA. That’s right, theory tests, there are two of them. Kinda. Like a normal driving theory test there are two parts, the multiple choice question part and the hazard perception part, but unlike a normal driving theory test you take both part separately, that way if you fail one part of your test you don’t have to re-sit all of it. The multiple choice part and hazard perception part are both longer than the normal test, the multiple choice contains 100 questions and the hazard perception contains more clips (twenty? I can’t remember). You will need to revise for the multiple choice part, because it’ll ask you all sorts of weird questions. The only real way of revising is to buy a book or an app that teaches you the questions. Because there is one theory tests for all kinds of buses you’ll have to learn about air-brakes and double decker buses, things that are completely irrelevant to driving a minibus, but consider it an education. The hazard perception is just as easy as the regular one, as long as you understand how the hazard perception test works you’re fine. You can book them online on the DSA website. You’ll need to book the “Passenger Carrying Multiple Choice” and “Passenger Carrying Hazard Perception” tests and the best thing to do is book them for the same day with a couple of hours in between so you can have a break. Most theory tests centres I’ve been to are fairly laid back and so if you finish one test and are in a hurry or running late for the other one they’ll let you go in if there is space, but your centre may vary.

Find A Driving Training Company

Now, while you are waiting for your theory test dates go on the internet and find a local company that’ll teach you how to drive a minibus properly. They’ll almost certainly teach you how to drive a regular bus and a lorry as well, so look for that when googling (other search engines are available). I used Wallace School of Transport and I passed in exactly the amount of time they said I would, so I can’t fault them. If the company is anything like the one I used they’ll get you to come in for an assessment lesson and then after that’s done give you a quote for how many hours it’ll take you to get up to standard. I took me twelve hours, but your mileage may vary.

Do Loads Of Driving.

The company you drive with will sort out a test date for you, and then in the week or so leading up to that you’ll do lots of driving and it’ll be tediously dull. I drove a minibus from Wembley Stadium, down the A40 and then drove round the streets of Ealing, Northolt, and Harrow for two hours, then I drove back to Wembley stadium down the A40 and reversed into a space for half an hour. Then I did it again the next day. And the next day. And so on. And while this is going on your told to check your mirrors every twenty-thirty seconds. Seriously, if you want to practice learning to drive a minibus in your car just look in your mirrors every time you do anything in your car.

Do you really need to do all this training? Could you just go out as a learner in your minibus? Well, yes, if you can find a way you can drive a minibus legitimately you could just do that a lot, but there a lots of little things that you probably won’t pick up on. Things like putting the handbrake on and the gears into neutral every single time you stop for longer than five seconds (to stop the vehicle accidentally jumping forward) or things like being able to explain what a tachometer does. Also you won’t be able to drive around the test centre unless you’re with a company, and knowing what the test centre is like is pretty useful to passing.

Take Your Test

Your test will take about an hour. It’s like a car test but longer and with less manoeuvres. At first you’ll be asked to answer some questions about the vehicle, then you’ll do this reversing manoeuvre and then you’ll go for a drive for around forty-five minutes. In that time you’ll be asked to pull up at a bus stop every now and again as if you were setting down passengers. You’ll also do hill starts and you’ll have to do a section of self-navigatiion, where you follow road signs to wherever they tell you to (I had to drive towards Wembley for a bit). Then you’ll come back and hopefully you’ve passed. And that’s that! You can now drive a D1 minibus, and you can send your licence off with the pass certificate to get the category formally on your licence! Huzzah! You can now drive a minibus for pretty much anything you want to (as long as you don’t want to take fare-paying passengers for the sole purpose taking fare-paying passengers, but that’s another story).

1 The DVLA are amazingly lovely when you speak to them on the phone but this is probably more down to their beautiful Swansea accent than there helpfulness. It seems that the massive bureaucracy of the DVLA can’t cope very well with not losing forms.