Commercial bus service permits

To become a bus operator in Northern Ireland you need to have a bus operator licence which is issued by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). If you want to operate a public passenger transport service, you will also need a commercial bus service permit from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

Service permit system

The new service permit system started on 5 October 2015 and is one of the outcomes from DfI’s Public Transport Reform proposals:

  • the introduction of the Transport Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
  • the making of the Public Passenger Transport (Service Agreements and Service Permits) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015

This guide will help you to understand what you need to do to obtain a commercial bus service permit in order to operate a public transport passenger service in Northern Ireland who to contact and the details you’ll need to provide.

Bus services where a permit is required

The types of service which need a commercial bus service permit are:

  • regular stopping services
  • express services
  • sightseeing services
  • demand responsive services
  • event-specific services
  • taxibus services

Bus services where a permit is not required

The types of services which do not need a Commercial Bus Service Permit are:

  • tours
  • private hire services
  • shuttle-bus services
  • closed regular services

Permit consideration

DfI will consider any new commercial bus service permit applications according to:

  • the suitability of the route
  • any other ongoing or previous applications
  • how the needs of people likely to use the service are currently catered for
  • the effect that granting a service permit would have on other permit holders or the contracted network
  • the need to ensure fair competition

Commercial bus service permit documents

The following documents can be downloaded using the following link:

For more information contact the commercial bus service permit unit on 028 9054 0470.

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