Taxis, hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, along with their drivers and private hire operators, are licensed by local authorities.
Licensing provides a visible assurance to the public that checks have been carried out. These check ensure that vehicles have 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 afterwards.
Types of taxi
There are two types of taxi:
- A hackney carriage – the vehicle and driver are immediately available for hire and can be hailed on the street
- A private hire vehicle – these must be booked in advance, through a licensed operator
All hackney carriages must display a taxi roof sign to make it easier for members of the public to identify them. These signs are not allowed on private hire vehicles.
Each licensed vehicle is issued with a licence plate. These are 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.
Wheelchair accessible vehicles
All passengers – and particularly those that are drinking alcohol – are encouraged to take care to ensure they have a safe journey when travelling by taxi. We advise everyone to remember the following simple safety tips:
- Always be alert at all times and stay in well-lit areas
- Don't become separated from your friends
- Never accept a drink from someone you don't know
- Always have enough money to get yourself home
- Plan your journey home well in advance
- If possible, go to a designated taxi rank or hail a licensed hackney carriage (with illuminated 'taxi' sign on it) from the street
- If there is no nearby rank and no available taxis on the street, pre-book your journey with a licensed taxi company (preferably one you have used before and trust). You'll need to give your name, pick-up point and destination, and ask for a booking reference
- Do not get into an unmarked car that has pulled up at the kerb and asked if you require transport
- Do not attempt to flag down a licensed private hire car on the street as the driver is not legally allowed to transport you and you will not be insured
- If you're booking a vehicle to collect you from a public venue, wait for the driver to come and find you
- Check the driver has your name and/or booking reference and destination when they arrive. Verify that the phone number on their vehicle matches the one you dialled and that the driver has official identification with their photograph on it
- Before you get in, check the vehicle has a council licence plate, usually fixed to the rear of the car. This permits the vehicle to be used for that purpose. Some executive hire and speciality vehicles will have a small internal plate fixed to the windscreen rather than an external plate
- Do not sit in the front with the driver – sit directly behind him and have your mobile phone with you. If you have a problem with the driver of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle, make a note of the registration number and report it to the police
- Do not get into the vehicle if, for any reason, you feel unsure