Information for the public
Private hire vehicles operate in a similar way to taxis in that they are used as a form of public transport. That is where the similarity ends. These cars are commonly referred to as 'taxis' or 'cabs' by the public but they are very different in the way they are permitted to operate and the way they look.
Private hire vehicles are commonly saloon or estate style cars and may not resemble a Taxi (Hackney Carriage) in any way. All private hire cars must be pre-booked through a licensed operator either by telephone or at the licensed operators office.
There are approximately 300 licensed private hire vehicles in the Borough (this number varies slightly each month). These vehicles cannot be hailed in the street and are not permitted to stand on taxi ranks or wait outside premises hoping for a booking. This is illegal and is referred to as 'plying for hire'.
All licensed vehicles must display a valid council issued licence plate on the front and the rear of the vehicle. They must also display door stickers issued by the council on each side of the vehicle which convey the public safety message 'No Booking No Ride'. Internal stickers are also displayed giving passengers information about the licensed vehicle.
Drivers must display a council issued driver's badge.
We would recommend that you always pre-book your private hire vehicle well in advance of the journey and agree a fare at the time of booking asking the operator to record the fare agreed.
When you go to meet your vehicle, if it does not display the signs and plates then do not get in as it will not be licensed or insured to carry you.
There are several licensed operator's premises in Basingstoke whose telephone numbers are widely advertised. The Council cannot control the number of private hire vehicle licences it issues, nor can it regulate the fares charged by private hire operators.
There are some exemptions to the above as vehicles used for carrying out specific work such as executive and/ or chauffeur work are not required to display plates on the outside of the vehicle. However only cars meeting a prestigious standard would be considered for an exemption and as long as they meet the criteria for the work being undertaken.
Some safety tips:
- Always book your vehicle with the operator in a advance
- Never get into a car without ensuring that it is the one booked for you.
- Ensure that it displays the correct licence plates, door signs and drivers badge.
- Try and agree the fare at the time of booking with the operator.
Private hire drivers who illegally ply for hire outside pubs and clubs and pick up customers who are not pre-booked are putting their vehicle insurance at risk. Drivers face fines of up to £2500 for illegally plying for hire. The cost to you as a customer could be much higher if you are injured in an accident involving a journey in a private hire car that was not pre-booked.
If you have any questions about the legal and safe use of private hire vehicles, please contact the licensing team on 01256 844844 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Advice on if you want to become a Private Hire Driver
If you wish to apply for a private hire driver's licence you can download the forms and fees below. Please contact the Licensing Team if you have any queries or for further advice.
All applicants will need to demonstrate that they are authorised to work in the UK before an application may be considered. Evidence of eligibility to work in the UK will be required where it applies. Further information can be obtained from the UK Border Agency website, or www.workpermit.com. Identification documents may be scanned and forwarded to the Home Office for verification.
Applications will not be considered without such evidence.
All applicants for hackney carriage and private hire driver licences must provide evidence of their suitability to hold a licence.
These checks include the following:
1 An enhanced Disclosure and barring Service (DBS) check or equivalent.
Taxi and Private Hire drivers are required to provide evidence of their criminal history. Applicants from the UK can do this by completing a DBS form through the Licensing Team. Reports may take as long as 12 weeks to be returned. The DBS charges a fee of £44 for this service. This fee is collected by the Licensing Team and passed directly to the CRB.
Non UK applicants including those who have lived outside the UK must provide a signed and sealed 'Statement of Good Conduct' from the embassy of all the relevant countries in which they were born or have lived.
All relevant convictions whether spent or unspent can be considered by the Licensing Team and further evidence of circumstances surrounding convictions may be sought prior to considering whether to grant a private hire driver's licence.
2 Driving History
All applicants must provide evidence of their driving history. For UK applicants holding a full DVLA driving licence, this check is carried out with the DVLA.
Holders of non DVLA issued licences must first register their licence with the DVLA and obtain a Counterpart licence issued by them.
3 Medical status
All applicants must be checked by a GP at the surgery where they are registered using a medical form issued by the council. All applicants are required to meet the DVLA Group 2 medical standard. Medical forms are assessed by the council's medical advisor.
If you have any questions about a medical condition that may affect your suitability, please contact the Licensing Team first where you can have a confidential discussion prior to paying for the medical. Alternatively go to http://www.dvla.gov.uk/medical.aspx for further information.
All applicants are required to undergo these checks to ensure a they are fit to drive passengers, a consistent standard is being maintained and to ensure an equal level of suitability checks for all applicants.
If you have any questions about these checks please contact a member of the team on 01256 844844 or email email@example.com
4 Driver Awareness Tests
All new applicants are tested to ensure they have a working knowledge of the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane and the private hire trade and are required to take a Driver Awareness Test at the Council Offices. The test is in 5 sections, all of which must be successfully completed:
Section 1: An understanding of general driving
Section 2: Private hire regulations and the law
Section 3: Basic English and basic numeracy test
Section 4: Geographical knowledge
Section 5: Verbal test
Upon submitting an application for a private hire driver's licence, applicants will be contacted by the Licensing Team with further details and dates when the test can be taken.
Assistance can be provided for applicants with reading and writing difficulties.
5. Driving Standards Agency (DSA) Private Hire/Hackney Carriage Assessment Test
Applicants are required to supply evidence that they have successfully completed the DSA Assessment Test. Applicants are responsible for providing a suitable vehicle and insurance. This does not have to be a currently licensed vehicle but must meet the size and design specifications. Further information can be found at DSA Private Hire/Taxi Test.
To book a test contact the DSA on 0300 200 1122.
Private Hire Vehicle Licence Application
Not all vehicle makes and models will meet the vehicle specification so you are advised to always check with the Licensing Team before committing to purchase a vehicle. All vehicles must be less than 3 years old at first licence apart from vehicles being used under an exemption (see exemptions below)
Private hire vehicles are licensed for a commercial, public transport use and you must be prepared to attach licence plates and other identification stickers and signs to your vehicle for the period of the licence. The plates and other signage cannot be removed at any time without prior permission from the council. If owners do remove the signs without permission this can result in formal action being taken and the vehicle licence suspended or revoked.
Licensed private hire vehicles may only be driven by persons holding a private hire driver's licence issued by the same council who issue the vehicle licence. This means other family members who do not hold a private hire driver's licence may not lawfully drive the licensed vehicle.
Prior to purchasing a vehicle we recommend that you look at the Manual of Vehicle Inspection Standards document and the Specification for Private Hire Vehicles with checklist. Both can be viewed or downloaded from this page.
New or existing licensees who wish to licence a vehicle must complete the checklist in the Private Hire Specification document to check that a vehicle meets the criteria before purchasing the vehicle. If the proposed vehicle does not meet the criteria, it will not be licensed, therefore we suggest you do not commit to purchasing e vehicle until the Licensing Team confirm that it will be licensed.
Both these documents can be accessed here and will give you information as to the standards and specifications for vehicles that can be licensed.
If you are proposing to licence an MPV we suggest you check the seating layout first as we can only licence a vehicle for the number of seats that allow clear access and egress from the side doors without needing to fold or move a seat whilst entering or exiting the vehicle. This means that many 7 seater vehicles will only be licensed for 5 passengers.
Certain private hire vehicles may be exempted from the requirement to display licence plates or the Council's door signage. In order to be granted an exemption certain criteria relating to the vehicle specification combined with the type of work must be met.
Vehicles will be expected to be of a prestigious model for example, Volvos, Audi's, Jaguars etc and must have a list purchase price when new of greater than £28,000.
These vehicles will be prohibited from doing normal 'day to day' private hire work ie; pick ups from pubs, clubs and shops etc.
A private hire vehicle will only be granted an exemption if it is being used for corporate and chauffeur style work. The type of work must be declared at the time of application for the licence and the exemption must be formally applied for on the application form. Only this type of work is permitted and any exempt vehicle found to be being used for non exempt work will lose the exemption and be required to display the corporate identity at all times and comply with all of the vehicle licence conditions.
Again, we recommend that you discuss any proposed vehicle that you may wish to use under an exemption with the Licensing Officers before committing to a purchase as it may be a costly mistake if the vehicle is not approved.
The Council's exempt vehicle policy has recently been reviewed and approved and a copy can be downloaded below.
For Information on private hire operators please click on the link on the left of this page
For further advice please contact the Licensing Team on 01256 844844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org