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Hiring a mini bus


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[quote user="Joric"]My licence covers me to 17 so that number would be perfect.[/quote]

If you are referring to a UK driving license then you will have a category "D1" which cover you for driving a minibus. Unfortunately, despite european harmonisation of license codes, the French interpret this differently from the UK government. In most cases you will need a full category "D" license to drive a minibus with more than 9 seats in France. (Category D is what we used to call a PSV license an involves a test which has to be renewed - I believe - every two years. A 17 seat minibus is also subject to tachograph laws.

Strictly speaking, as I understand it, you can drive a 17 seat minibus if it is only carrying you and your own family but the minute you take other passengers (group of kids, b&b guests, local society, scout group etc.) then in France this is classified as driving for "hire or reward".

So, in view of these restrictions, you will probably find that you would need to go to a specialist rental company to hire a larger minibus and they will almost certainly expect you to have a full cat D on your license.

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Under the EU harmonisation of driving licences, it is in fact the UK which is phasing out their "non-standard" category D1 (17 seat minibus)and when existing licences come up for renewal, the category will be removed.  People then wanting to drive 17 seaters for non-hire/reward (eg, youth clubs, scouts, charities, etc) will have to apply to the UK traffic commissioners for a separate minibus permit.

In France, they apply the standard EU regulations - category B for up to nine seats, category D for over nine seats. The hire or reward aspect is immaterial - the number of seats fitted determines the category required.

Whilst there is no standard EU equivalent of the UK's D1, France does recognise this category - in fact, if you were to exchange your UK licence for a French one, then the new licence will show full category D together with a restriction code (75) which allows you to drive a minibus with up to 17 seats (in other words, your existing UK categories are preserved under EU rules concerning pan european validity of entitlement).

I suspect that Eslier is right in saying a rental company may have difficulty in understanding the meaning of your category D1 so you'll need to try and explain that it's the UK equivalent of a restricted D (75) - unless, of course they just look at the little pictogram of the bus and assume that it's a full blown D licence.........[;-)]



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