Taxis, hackney carriages and private hire vehicles together with their drivers and private hire operators are licensed by local authorities.
Licensing provides a visible assurance to the public that the vehicle has been checked every six months for safety and that the driver has been checked medically and is fit to hold a licence. Drivers have a criminal records check undertaken on them before their licence is issued, then every three years thereafter.
There are two types of taxi:
- one being a hackney carriage which can ply for hire within the borough, i.e. the vehicle and driver are immediately available for hire and can be hailed on the street
- the other is a private hire vehicle and these must be booked in advance, through a licensed operator
To make the distinction easier for the travelling public within the borough all hackney carriages must display a taxi roof sign. These are not permitted on private hire vehicles.
Each licensed vehicle is issued with a licence plate, updated annually and which must be fixed to the rear of the vehicle. Some executive hire and speciality vehicles will have a small internal plate fixed to the windscreen rather than an external plate.
Licensed drivers are issued with a photographic I.D. badge, which must be worn at all times whilst acting as the driver of a licensed vehicle.