Taxi and private hire
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There are two types of taxi, depending on what kind of work you want to do and which kind of vehicle you have. Below are brief explanations of the two types of taxi available and their requirements.
A Hackney Carriage is the name given to a taxi which is permitted to be hailed down, rather than be pre-booked. There are also specific requirements depending on which local council is appropriate to you, but a Hackney Carriage is usually required to be at least the size of a four-door saloon, and must meet certain requirements for facilitating those in wheelchairs. In London the taxi must be manufactured by London Taxis International to their specifications.
The vehicle itself needs a Hackney Carriage Vehicle Licence from the local council, which can cost about £100-£500 depending on the council.
The driver of the vehicle will also need to get a Hackney Carriage Driver’s Licence. It is usually necessary to pass a special driving test with the DSA, which is similar to the normal Driving Test but with a much higher pass threshold and a more thorough examination. Some councils will forgo this requirement and some will not; you will have to check with your local council for details. Many councils also require a knowledge test, to ensure that the driver has sufficient knowledge of the local area to provide an adequate service to customers. The cost of the licence is usually around £100-£300, plus the cost of any necessary test.
A private hire taxi is not permitted to be hailed down or to wait in a public designated taxi rank. The driver is usually part of a group or network which receives calls from customers and delegates them accordingly. A private hire taxi can usually be of any size but obviously should be of a size that would allow passengers to travel in comfort.
A vehicle itself needs a Private Hire Vehicle Licence to ensure its suitability for commercial use. The requirements vary between councils, but are usually less stringent than for Hackney Carriages. The cost of a licence can be between £100-£500 depending on which council area you are in.
The driver of the vehicle will also need a Private Hire Driver’s Licence. Councils do not usually require you to take a knowledge test, as you will learn the route from the group or network centre before meeting the customer on each occasion. However, you may still have to pass a DSA driving test. The cost of the driving licence can be between £100-£300, plus the cost of any necessary test.
If you work for a group or network then the central office will need a separate Private Hire Operator’s Licence and will need to pay a fee to allow you to operate from their office. If you intend to work completely on your own then you will need to get your own Private Hire Operator’s Licence. You will also need your own office to keep records and paperwork at: you may need planning permission from the council for this. The cost of an operator’s licence is usually around £100-£300, depending on the local council.
The comments above are general and should not be taken as a definitive statement of the law or procedure. Expert advice should always be sought on this area. We have not attempted to cover all the obligations or legal requirements that may arise.