Grandfather Rights - where do I stand?


There appears to be some confusion around the right to drive a minibus or small van so as a conscientious rental company keen to help our customers, we thought we'd clarify the situation for you.

If you passed your regular driving test before January 1st 1997 you have what's known as implied entitlement or 'grandfather rights' allowing you to drive small lorries and minibuses with or without trailers.

Grandfather rights allow you to drive a minibus with a maximum of 17 seats, including the driver’s seat. The minibus must not be used for hire or reward.

When you renew your driving licence at the age of 70, you must make a special application to continue driving a minibus. You also need to meet higher than normal medical standards. If your renewal application to drive a minibus is successful, your licence lasts for three years.

If you have grandfather rights, however, you cannot supervise minibus learner drivers.  To supervise learners, you must pass the theory and practical driving tests for category D1 vehicles. If you passed that after 1 May 2010, you must wait three years before you can be an accompanying driver.

If you passed the relevant test before 1 May 2010, and you have grandfather rights, you don’t have to wait to supervise learners. The law treats you as though you’ve had the full D1 licence for three years.

An “inherited” D1 is sufficient for driving a minibus without hire or reward until you are aged 70. If you want to accompany learner minibus drivers, or drive a minibus commercially, you must take the full category D1 test.
The changes to driving licences and categories came into force on 19th January 2013 and a year on are causing some issues for drivers. 

So, if you passed your practical car test (licence category B) before 1 January 1997 you would automatically also acquire licence categories BE, C1, C1E, D1 and D1E as ‘Grandfather Rights’.

For those drivers who passed their car test after 1 January 1997 they receive a driving licence with entitlement to drive category B vehicles only. To drive vehicles that fall within the additional categories listed above additional driving tests have to be taken.

The problem is that many drivers who passed their test since 1 January 1997 subsequently need to drive vehicles which fall into the additional categories. This might be for work-related reasons (e.g. driving breakdown recovery trucks, heavy plant trailers, delivery driving, ambulances) or a social pastime (e.g. lorry horseboxes, horsebox trailers, boat trailers, vehicle transporters, caravans). Many of these drivers take advice from people who are unaware of the changes that occurred in driving licence entitlement, such as workplace managers or parents, and are consequently driving vehicles for which they don’t have a licence.

If you're in any doubt and need to hire a minibus or van from our extensive fleet, just get in touch and we'll go through the necessary paperwork with you so you are driving safely and legally!

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