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Vintage bus and coach driving requirements

The driving licence requirements for the use of preserved vehicles is complex, owing to several consecutive changes in the law, and has been misquoted at times in the press.

Reproduced below is a table showing the various requirements, based on information provided by the DVLA at Swansea.

  BUSES & COACHES OVER 30 YEARS OF AGE BUSES & COACHES LESS THAN 30 YEARS OF AGE
  Maximum number of passengers permitted Use for Hire or Reward Maximum number of permitted passengers Use for Hire or Reward
Persons with ordinary car licence who are over 21 years of age and passed their car test before 1/1/97 8 No Limited to vehicles not exceeding 17 seats No
Persons with ordinary car licence who are over 21 years of age and passed their car test after 1/1/97 8 No Limited to vehicles not exceeding 8 seats No
Persons with Restricted PCV (known as "Grandfather Rights") Unlimited No Unlimited No
Persons with PCV licence Unlimited Yes Unlimited Yes
Persons with HGV licence for 2 years

Note - as at 2016 I cannot find any reference to the arrangements below and they might no longer apply

Drivers who hold full Large Goods Vehicle (LGV, formerly HGV) driving entitlement may also continue to drive large buses provided they have held the licence for at least two years and the vehicle is:

  • not used for the carriage of any person who is not connected with its repair or road testing, and
  • damaged or defective and being driven to a place of repair, or
  • being road tested following repair.
From 1st January 1997, the eyesight standards for driving a bus or lorry were changed. Existing drivers that cannot meet these new standards can retain their licence under grandfathers' rights on the old standards provided they can demonstrate they have recent, relevant and regular experience of drivinga lorry or bus and have not been involved in any accident caused by their eyesight.
These notes were originally compiled in January 1998 with the guidance of the DVLA, Swansea, and is believed to still be current, but should not be construed as legal advice. The interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts and is open to any individual to take legal advice on their behalf.

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