Summary of 15 Passenger Van Rules

Here's a bit of good news. On December 10, 2003, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rule went into effect which regulates drivers of small passenger vehicles (vans and small buses) carrying 15 passengers or less in interstate commerce. When drivers are directly compensated for transportation services and the vehicle is operated beyond a 75 air mile radius from the driver's normal work location, these vehicles and their drivers must comply with the same rules as motor coach operators. These rules however, do not apply to outfitters and guides unless the van is being used to provide commercial transportation for which a fee is directly paid.

The rule states: "Generally only entities that assess a fee, monetary or otherwise, directly for the transportation of passengers would be subject to the safety regulations. The use of small passenger-carrying CMV's for compensation, by such operators as hotel/motel shuttle, rental car shuttle, and whitewater river rafter transportation services, using small passenger CMVs, would not be subject to the safety-related operational regulations, irrespective of the distance traveled".

Regulations That Apply to 15 Passenger Vans and Small Buses

The FMCSA does require that motor carriers operating CMVs designed or used to transport between 9 and 15 passengers (including the driver) for compensation file a motor carrier identification report, mark their CMVs with a USDOT identification number, and maintain an accident register. The agency established these requirements to monitor the operational safety of motor carriers operating small passenger-carrying vehicles for compensation. This rulemaking is in response to the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). This rule was published in the Federal Register on February 12, 2002. Insurance policy limits of $1.5 million for vans used in interstate commerce are required. However, no commercial drivers licenses are required for outfitter vehicles.

Bus Regulations

Buses carrying more than 15 passengers across state lines are subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for motor coach carriers. Some states may have adopted the federal requirements for intrastate travel. Generally, the following regulations apply to buses:

FMCSA has a question and answers page on Rule for Small Passenger-Carrying Vehicles. Go to