Mandatory face coverings for passengers
You must wear a face covering when using taxis or private hire vehicles. You will be breaking the law if you fail to do so and could be fined by the Police. A taxi driver or private hire vehicle operator will be entitled to refuse to accept you if you do not wear a face covering. For more information see GOV.UK guidance.
Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or disability reasons.
Please also see guidance from The Department for Transport (DfT) for operators and passengers on traveling safely during the outbreak.
Guidance for licensed drivers
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you must not work and should follow the government's advice regarding self-isolating.
Drivers and proprietors of the vehicle both have a responsibility to ensure to the best of their ability that the vehicle is safe:
Ideally all customer contact points in every vehicle should be disinfected after every hiring
Drivers sharing vehicles should clean regularly and when their shift ends
Licensees should already have a Health and Safety Policy in place, and it is recommended to incorporate a risk assessment relating to the coronavirus
Our Taxi licence policy sets out how we carry out the licensing and control of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire trade within our district and the our expectations of applicants and licensees.
Further information for Hackney carriage drivers is supplied in our Hackney Carriage Byelaws document.
Becoming a driver
Before becoming a taxi driver - whether private hire or hackney carriage please ensure that you have read our policy and applied for any necessary licences.
The following document sets out the legal requirements for becoming a Hackney carriage or private hire driver within Hart District Council. The document describes the different types of licences required, and the application process:
Hackney Carriage licence
All Hackney carriage vehicles often referred to as taxis require a licence. They may ply for hire, be flagged down or hired at a taxi rank. These vehicles have a roof sign and display a yellow plate on the rear of the vehicle. Hackney carriage drivers must also wear an ID badge issued by the Council, which includes his/her photograph.
Private Hire operator licence
All private hire vehicles and drivers must be booked through a licensed private hire operator. They will usually operate from a business address or may operate a small number of vehicles from their domestic address.
Conditions are included on the licence in respect of record keeping and other matters. The licensed operator may only operate vehicles and drivers licensed by the same Authority who issues the operator licence.
Bookings made may be sub contracted to other licensed operators. However, the operator receiving the initial booking remains responsible for that booking and ensuring that any sub contracted bookings are undertaken using only a licensed operator and licensed vehicles and drivers.
Private Hire vehicles
Private hire vehicles licensed by the Council must display a blue plate on the rear and a smaller internal plate. Roof signs are permitted but must not use the words 'cab' or 'taxi'. Private Hire drivers must also wear an ID badge issued by the Council, which includes his/her photograph.
Private hire vehicles must only operate on a pre-booked basis. They may not ply for hire in the street or wait for customers at a taxi rank. Journeys must be pre-booked, normally by phone or in person at a private hire operators office.
The Council can allow some vehicles to be exempt from the requirement to display the licence plate on licensed vehicles.
Our Exempt Vehicle Policy sets out our approach to granting exemptions from displaying the licence plate, which should be read before making an application for an exemption.
Any vehicle granted an exemption will be restricted to the type of private hire service and vehicles outlined in the revised policy. No other private hire work will be permitted in exempt vehicles.
There are many different laws affecting proprietors and vehicles, but the main ones covering the licensing of private hire vehicles are contained in Part II of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
Licence extensions and renewals
Renewal fees can be paid in two equal instalments until 11 December 2020. The first instalment must be paid with the application and the vehicle licence holder will receive a reminder to pay the outstanding fee three months from that date.
A list of fares for Hackney carriages is below:
The council does not regulate fares for private hire vehicles. The cost of a journey will normally be based on a rate per mile. It is recommended that fares are agreed at the time of booking and recorded.
For a vehicle to be licensed, whether it is Hackney carriage or private hire, it must pass an MOT and garage test to ensure safety. We ensure that the vehicles are suitable and adequately insured to maintain high standards of safety.
There are some changes to MOT tests because of coronavirus (COVID-19). How this affects you depends on when your MOT is due to expire. For more information please see guidance from GOV.UK.
We do not propose to waive a requirement for testing when current vehicle test certificates expire. We will continue to monitor the situation and update this page and our testing stations, and we agree it is appropriate to extend compliance and vehicle test certificates validity periods. Our primary purpose is to promote public safety and we have to be satisfied vehicles are mechanically safe to maintain licences.
Refusing journey requests
Hackney carriage drivers can only refuse a hiring for a journey within the district if they have a reasonable excuse (section 53 Town Police Clauses Act 1847). It is a reasonable excuse to refuse to carry a passenger who has obvious symptoms of coronavirus, but drivers must be careful. It would be difficult to justify refusing to carry passengers who don’t display symptoms. A taxi driver can also legitimately refuse to take any hiring which would be for a destination outside the district.
Private hire operators don't have to provide a vehicle for anybody, but a refusal cannot be based on a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 (section 4 - age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation). Once bookings are accepted, a contract is in place to provide a vehicle and driver for that hiring.
If a passenger is displaying obvious symptoms of coronavirus, the driver may not feel safe to carry that passenger. In this case, drivers need to discuss with their operator on how to proceed with the booking. The contract for hire is between the hirer and the operator (there is also a contract between the operator and the driver which will need to be considered as well).
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
How to contact Licensing:
Phone: 01252 622122