Van Hire - Driving Licence Laws And Restrictions

What type of licence do I need to drive a van?

Well this is a question that gets asked a lot and the answer is quite straightforward. Most vans (NOT minbuses) as in those under 3500kgs which includes the Luton Van and Extra Long Wheel Base Vans are category B, which means they can be driven on a standard UK car driving licence.

Important: The following is provided for information only, although we make every effort to keep it up to date driving laws do change and it is you responsibility to make sure you are aware of the current laws, which can be found on the DVLA's website.

Vans - More Details

In other words they are in effect classed as a car for the purposes of driver licence requirements. So you can in theory drive a van at 17 years old, having just passed your test on a car. However in reality you are very unlikely to be able hire a van at that age, and most van rental companies only allow an age range of 25 to 70 years old for the driver (normally 30 to 70 years old for Minibuses). Some do allow younger drivers (from 21 years old normally) to hire vans, with restrictions on what type of van they can hire along with additional charges. If you fall outside the standard age range, see our van hire company restrictions guide to get an idea of which companies may rent to you. Note: Automatic vans are normally not available, so it is unlikely you can find a hire van to drive if you are only qualified to drive an automatic car.


Unfortunately the situation isn't as straightforward with minibuses, as they are passenger carrying vehicles the rules are more complex and there are entire pages describing the rules on the DVLA's website, so your best checking with the DVLA if you have any doubts
But to summarise:
  • If you had entitlement to drive cars prior to 1 January 1997 you can drive a minibus provided you are 21 or over and the minibus has a maximum of 17 seats including the driver's seat and is not being used for hire or reward. Though if you renewed your licence since then, and did not apply specifically for the minbus category then the post 1 January 1997 laws take effect.
  • Holders of a full category B (car) driving licence issued after 1 January 1997 may drive:
  •             A minibus with up to 16 passenger seats provided the following conditions are met:
  •                    i. the vehicle is used for social purposes by a non-commercial body but not for hire or reward
  •                    ii. the driver is aged 21
  •                    iii. the driver has held a car (category B) licence for at least 2 years
  •                    iv. the driver is providing the service on a voluntary basis
  •                    v. the minibus maximum weight is not more than 3.5 tonnes or 4.25 tonnes including any specialist equipment for the                            carriage of disabled passengers
  •                    vi. if the driver is aged 70 or  over, is able to meet the health standards for driving a D1 vehicle
  • To drive a minibus which has nine or more passenger seats for hire or reward you will normally need passenger carrying vehicle entitlement (PCV).

Still confused? Here's some more advice.

Trucks under 7500kg

If the vehicle can carry more than 3.5 tonnes, but less than 7.5 tonnes then a category C1 entitlement is needed (you may have this if your car driving licence was issued prior to 1997, otherwise you will have to have taken a seperate test), and you need to be 18 years or older to have this entitlement. This type of small truck is available for hire at some depots, though obviously not at as many locations.