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Sat, September 30, 2023

Understanding PCV and D1 License Costs and Requirements in the UK

Understanding PCV and D1 License Costs and Requirements in the UK

Obtaining a PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicle) driving license involves significant expenses in terms of both time and money, much like acquiring an HGV license. In this article, we delve into the various costs associated with gaining PCV entitlement, including the cost of a PCV license, which typically ranges from £1,525.00 to £1,985.00 depending on factors such as course duration, training location, and previous driving experience.


PCV License Costs



Breakdown of PCV license costs


      1. Application fees

Gaining the D1, D, DE, and Driver CPC licenses involves multiple stages, each accompanied by its associated costs. Test fees are a significant component of the overall expenses. In this process, there are three theory tests and two practical tests to complete. If you're aiming to obtain the Driver CPC qualification as well, you should budget for these examinations. The theory tests, when combined, amount to £60 in fees, while the reversing and on-road driving tests will cost you £155.

      2. Training expenses

The most substantial expenses throughout this entire process are the driver tuition fees. Acquiring these licenses involves a significant financial investment since you'll be paying for practical driving instruction with a qualified instructor by your side. For instance, most students typically require a minimum of 3 days of practical driver training for the D1 license and 5 days for the Cat D license (bus or coach). It's important to note that the driving tests have exceptionally high standards, so cutting corners on the quality and quantity of tuition can jeopardize your chances of passing.


Factors affecting PCV license costs


1. License type (e.g., Category D, D1)

There are three categories of licenses for passenger-carrying vehicles (PSVs), and it's important to note that these categories are determined solely by the number of seats, not the weight of the vehicle:

D1 License: This category is for minibuses with more than 8 passenger seats but no more than 16 passenger seats. If you obtained your car license before January 1, 1997, you may have D1 entitlement through grandfather rights.

Cat D License: The most common type of PCV license, representing buses or coaches with more than 16 passenger seats. Holding this license allows you to drive both double-decker and single-decker buses.

DE License: This category is somewhat niche since most buses don't typically tow trailers over 750 KG. However, it's more common for coach drivers to acquire the DE license, as it provides extra space for passenger luggage and other items.

2. Training location

There are approximately 100 training companies (including bus companies) in the UK that offer D1, D, and DE tuition. So, regardless of your location, you should have convenient access to training. Surrey-based EP Training Services is one such provider that offers training for all three categories of licenses. Their fleet of minibuses and buses is modern, well-maintained, and a pleasure to drive. With over 40 years of experience, EP Training has built a reputation that is second to none in providing D1, D, and DE training.  

3. Additional fees (e.g., medical exams)

In addition to the DVSA test fees, driver training costs, and VAT, there is also a fee for your PCV medical examination. When you apply for a provisional D1, D, or DE license, you will need to undergo a basic medical examination conducted by a health professional. The cost of this medical examination typically ranges from £50 to £150, depending on your location and the healthcare provider you choose.

If your local training provider does not arrange your medical examination, EP Training recommends using D4 Medicals. They are known for being cost-effective, reliable, and conveniently located in your area, making them a practical choice for your PCV medical needs.


Mention the availability of free PCV training


As of now, there are no government-backed schemes to assist with financing your bus license accreditation. However, you may discover that several bus companies offer to cover the costs of your training and even provide you with a job afterward. This can be an excellent opportunity to enter the industry without having to pay thousands of pounds upfront for your training.

If you choose this route, it's important to note that many of these companies may require you to work for them for a specified period, typically at least two years, once you successfully pass all your driving tests as part of their investment in your training.


PCV License Training Costs



Overview of PCV license training


The cost of a PCV license can vary significantly based on various factors, including the type of license you're pursuing, such as D1, D, or DE. Typically, a D1 course will be more affordable than a DE course due to the shorter duration of driver tuition required for a minibus compared to a coach and trailer combination.

Location also plays a role, as PCV training companies in different parts of the UK may have different pricing structures for their services. Additionally, the inclusion of the Driver CPC qualification, mandatory for all professional minibus, bus, and coach drivers, is another factor to consider when determining the overall cost.

As mentioned earlier there is a set process as to how you gain cat D`1, D or DE and Driver CPC. The whole process should take no more than 7-8 weeks to complete. It’s worth noting that most of this duration is simply waiting for provisional licenses to be returned from |DVLA, theory tests dates to be available etc. The medical and provisional must be undertaken and gained first, then it is possible to do the multiple choice, hazard perception and (where needed) the Driver CPC Case Study theory tests. Once the theories are passed the driver training and testing will be next followed by (if needed) The Driver CPC practical demonstration.


Cost of PCV license training


To provide you with a rough estimate, the cost of D1 minibus training, inclusive of all expenses like medical examination, theory instruction, theory tests, driver training, and Driver CPC, should typically fall within the range of £1,400 to £1,800.Obtaining a cat PCV (cat D) license for a bus or coach, along with CPC, including the cost of medical examinations and theory tests, is usually in the range of £1,900 to £2,400.If you choose to pursue the DE category directly without passing the cat D driving test, which became possible due to government regulations changing in November 2021, you can expect the highest investment among all three options. This typically falls within the range of £2,500 to £3,400.

The prices mentioned above should encompass the entire package, covering expenses for the medical examination, Module 4 CPC, as well as VAT and all test fees.


Duration of PCV training programs


  1. For a D1 minibus driving course, which includes a test at the end, it typically spans no more than 3 days. Minibuses are generally easier to manoeuvre compared to larger buses or coaches.
  2. A bus or coach driving course (cat D) typically lasts for about 5 days. This extended duration is because there is a substantial amount of knowledge and skills you need to acquire to meet the required driving standards.
  3. If you're pursuing a bus or coach with trailer driver training, the course usually takes anywhere from 5 to 8 days, with the last day dedicated to your driving assessment. This course tends to be longer than the Cat C (heavy goods vehicle) training because it involves mastering the reversing manoeuvre, as well as the process of uncoupling and re-coupling the trailer.


Finding reputable PCV training providers


In the UK, there are over 100 companies offering PCV driver training, providing you with a wide range of options to choose from. Ideally, selecting a company that is conveniently located for you is the best choice, as it eliminates the need for extensive travel to begin your driver tuition.

However, it's important to note that there is limited government regulation in place regarding the standard of PCV driver training. Consequently, finding a reputable training provider can sometimes be a bit hit and miss. Given that PCV training can be a significant investment, we strongly recommend conducting thorough research and due diligence before committing any funds. Be cautious of middlemen and brokers who may inflate prices unnecessarily.


PCV Test Costs



Cost breakdown for PCV tests


      1. Theory test

When considering the costs of PCV training, it's important to account for the theory tests, which come with their own expenses.

For individuals aiming to obtain a D1, D, or DE driving license, passing the PCV Multiple Choice and Hazard Perception theory tests is a requirement. To pass, you'll need to score at least 85 out of 100 for the multiple-choice test and a minimum of 67 out of 100 for the hazard perception test. These tests are priced at £28 and £11, respectively.

If your goal is to become a professional PCV driver, you must also successfully pass the Driver CPC theory test. This particular theory test is straightforward and costs £26 to take. It consists of multiple-choice questions, and you need to score at least 40 out of 50 to achieve a passing grade.

   2. Practical test

Throughout your driving course, there are two essential tests you must pass. The first is the 3a reversing maneuver test, which costs £40. Once you have successfully mastered the reverse test, you will proceed to the on-road driving test, which lasts for one hour and comes with a fee of £115.


Strategies for cost-effective test preparation


Enrolling with a reputable local PCV training company can streamline the entire license acquisition process. This approach might be the most efficient and cost-effective way to obtain the necessary license because a professional company handles all aspects for you. While you can manage the medical and theory components yourself, these expenses are relatively modest compared to the practical driver training costs. Self-arranging these aspects won't result in substantial savings.


PSV Operator License


Operator licenses are mandatory for all passenger-carrying vehicles with more than 8 seats used for commercial purposes. This stringent regulatory framework aims to ensure fair competition and enhance road safety. Acquiring an operator license is a complex process, involving various exams and meeting specific criteria. It's important to note that operator licenses are needed by the company or operator, not the individual drivers. If your plan is to operate your own bus (as an owner-operator), obtaining an operator license is a prerequisite. The DVSA, formerly known as VOSA, is the agency responsible for enforcing operator license regulations.


License Validity


After obtaining your D1, D, or DE license, you'll retain that entitlement until you reach the age of 45. At this point, you must undergo a medical examination to confirm your physical fitness for another 5 years of driving. The DVLA doesn't charge for license renewal; you only need to cover the medical fee, which typically ranges from £50 to £150.

To ensure you don't miss your license renewal, it's advisable to keep track of the expiry dates for your D1, D, or DE entitlement. You can find this information on the back of your driving license or by visiting the . Govt website. Additionally, the DVLA will send you a renewal invitation approximately 6-8 weeks before your license expires. Driving a D1, D, or DE vehicle without a valid license is a criminal offense and carries severe penalties. As a professional PCV driver, it's your responsibility to ensure your driving license is always up to date.


Frequently Asked Questions



What is the cost of a PSV license?


The cost of a PCV license can vary based on factors such as course duration, training location, and previous driving experience. Typically, costs range from £1,800 to £3,400.


How long is a PCV license valid for?


Once you pass your PCV driving test, your license will be valid until the age of 45. After that, you'll need to undergo a medical examination every 5 years to maintain your entitlement. The medical is a basic assessment and usually takes around 15 minutes.


What is the cost of a D1 license?


The D1 license covers PCVs with more than 8 but fewer than 16 passenger seats. It is the most basic category of PCV entitlement. The costs associated with D1 training typically range from £1,500 to £1,900.


What is a D1 bus category?


A Cat D1 license is best described as a minibus with no more than 16 passenger seats. This category is commonly used for school transport, college shuttles, and police vehicles, as it is smaller and more manoeuvrable than the larger Cat D category. If you obtained your car driving license before January 1st, 1997, you may already have the D1 license; however, you might have a 101 restriction code, which means you cannot drive the minibus for hire and reward purposes.




There is a substantial demand for minibus, bus, and coach drivers, making finding employment a relatively straightforward process. EP Training is aware of numerous bus and coach companies actively seeking drivers. The remuneration for these positions is quite attractive, with salaries ranging from £37,000 to £40,000 per annum for newly qualified drivers. This level of compensation is comparable to what HGV drivers currently earn. Additionally, working in the PSV industry comes with excellent benefits, including free travel, flexible work schedules, and opportunities to interact with diverse groups of people. Considering the minimal initial investment in training, you can expect a decent return on your investment within a relatively short timeframe. We hope this post has provided you with a clearer understanding of the costs associated with obtaining a PSV license.

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