How do I get a PCV minibus licence?

Question:

What is a PCV minibus licence and how can I get one?

Answer:

At High Adventure we are having increasing difficulty finding NGB qualified freelance staff that also have a PCV minibus qualification (full D1). Lets be clear here what the rules are:

A “minibus” is a vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than 8 but less than 17 passengers in addition to the driver.

Existing” drivers include all those who passed their test for car entitlement before January 1997. These drivers retain significant rights to drive small buses and lorries, including the use of trailers over 750kg until their licence expires. On a licence issued since 1990 and before 1997 these are shown as B, B+E, C1, C1+E (restriction 7), D1 (restriction 1), D1+E (restriction 1). The restriction numbers are different on any licence issued from 1997 onwards.

New” drivers are those who pass their first test from January 1st 1997 onwards whose entitlement is much more restricted. On any new licence only B entitlement will appear.

Community licence holders” are drivers who obtain their licences in countries of the European Economic Area – EU states other than the UK – and also Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. All these states operate essentially the same classification of driving entitlements.

PCV” stands for Passenger Carrying Vehicle; PCV entitlement is the qualification gained when a further test is passed to drive buses and coaches.

The new generation of freelancers do not have D1 automatically on their licence as they passed after 1997. Even if they do it is only the provisional D1, this does not allow you to drive for hire and reward so means that you cannot legally drive the minibuses of any commercial venture. A provisional D1 only allows you to drive for any groups with a section 19 or section 22 licence. That basically covers all charities and educational establishments and any not for profit organisation. High Adventure is a commercial outfit so we require an operators licence and PCV qualified drivers.

The quickest and best way to get your PCV licence is to attend an intensive course that ends with a test, this is expensive though, you can expect to pay up to £1000 and that’s if you pass first time! If you don’t have a grand lying around you will need to find a sponsor or employer who will pay for it for you in return for your services. High Adventure run a Trainee instructor scheme and a developing instructor scheme which helps people to become instructors and gain qualifications. The Trainee instructor scheme is for 12 months and for people wanting to get into the industry but have little or no qualifications and experience, successful trainees finish with numerous nationaly recognised NGB qualifiations. The developing instructor scheme is aimed at those with some NGBs but who which to accellerate their professional development and pursue higher awards. May of our trainees stay with us for the develping instructor year, during this year all candidates get their PCV minibus as well as any relevant NGB qualifications they wish to go for, one person this time round for example is going for their MIA training. There are many centres offering similar things but a word of warning, check what qualifications they are offering and how seriously is your professional development taken.

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