A hackney carriage is a public transport vehicle with no more than eight passenger seats, which is licensed to ply for hire. This means that it may stand at ranks or be hailed in the street by the public.
A private hire vehicle can have up to eight passenger seats and can only be hired by telephone bookings or by going to the operator’s office in person. Fares are set by the company’s meter or quoted in advance.
Anyone who wants to operate one or more private hire vehicles will need:
- An operator's licence
- A vehicle licence
Vehicles used solely for weddings and funerals are exempt.
It's illegal to try to hire a private hire vehicle on the street and passengers wouldn't be insured for their journey. They can’t have any wording which includes the word taxi, cab or the like, but they can have the name and phone number of the firm printed on the vehicle. They must carry signs on the front doors of the vehicle signs saying Private Hire. Advanced Bookings Only.
Recent changes to the law
There have been a number of recent changes to the law affecting hackney carriage and private hire vehicle drivers and private hire vehicle operators.
We now can't grant a licence to anyone unless a check has been made to verify that the person isn't disqualified from driving a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle because of his or her immigration status.
This means that all applicants, including UK passport holders, have to attend their nearest licensing office in person with original documents (passport or other acceptable documents) demonstrating that they have the right to work in the UK.
As well as checks to establish whether a person is “fit and proper,” we won't be able to grant a driver or operator’s licence unless we're satisfied an applicant has the right to remain and work in the UK.
While we're able to grant such licences to people who are subject to immigration control and only have a limited time to remain in the UK, they can only be granted for a specified period and that period must end at or before the period of permission to remain.
For more information, see the Home Office factsheet on illegal working.