The Scottish Government is responsible for regulating the powers of Scottish local authorities to license taxis and private hire cars.
Licensing is the responsibility of local authorities under powers contained in the 1982 Civic Government Act. Local authorities have wide discretion to determine appropriate licensing arrangements according to local needs and circumstances and their own legal advice.
Applications for licences should be made through the relevant licensing authority. Your local authority website should have contact details for the relevant team and details of the process for making an application.
Number of taxi and private hire car vehicle and driver licenses (including number of wheelchair accessible vehicles) in Scotland
Snapshot figures, based on local authority returns, can be found in the Transport Scotland publication 'Scottish Transport Statistics'.
The consultation on proposed changes to taxi and private hire car licensing closed on Friday 15 March 2013.
All non-confidential formal responses to the consultation are available on the Scottish Government website here.
A summary of consultation responses can be found here. This is a web-only publication.
Best Practice Guidance
The Scottish Government first published a best practice guidance document in December 2007. This was updated in April 2012. This provides advice on best practice to assist licensing authorities in their function in regard to the licensing of taxis, private hire cars and their drivers.
Definition of a taxi/private hire car
The definition of a taxi and private hire car is set out in section 23 of the 1982 Act.
Section 23 says:
"taxi" means a hire car which is engaged, by arrangements made in a public place between the person to be conveyed in it (or a person acting on his behalf) and its driver for a journey beginning there and then; and "private hire car" means a hire car other than a taxi within the meaning of this subsection.
The definition provides that both a taxi and a private hire car are "hire cars". A taxi may ply for hire in a public place for a journey beginning at that point in time. This means taxis may ply for hire at taxi ranks, stations, airports, etc and may be hailed in the street. A private hire car may not ply for hire and must be pre-booked.
Licensing authorities are required under section 17 to set maximum fares and other charges for taxis operating in their areas.
Authorities are not required to set fare tariffs for private hire cars as these vehicles do not have to be fitted with taxi meters. If private hire cars are fitted with a taxi meter, these are calibrated by the Council and subject to the same maximum fares tariff as taxis. The tariffs set by councils are maximum charges and operators may charge less at their own discretion.
Booking Office Licensing
Booking offices that accept bookings for four or more licensed taxis or private hire cars must by law be licensed by the local licensing authority.
For each booking the booking office is required as a condition of licence to:
- maintain a record of the registration number of the vehicle hired
- record the name of the driver
- ensure the vehicle and its driver are licensed appropriately under sections 10 and 13 respectively of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
Accessibility and equality
The 2010 Equality Act harmonises the provisions of the Disablility Discrimination Act in relation to taxi accessibility.
It provides that a transport service provider and the people who work for it must not discriminate against, harass or victimise any service user because of any protected characteristics (such as race, sex or disability).
The Department for Transport (DfT) published guidance to licensing authorities and the trade on the implications of these taxi provisions on 15 September 2010. That guidance can be accessed via the DfT website.
Limousines/special events vehicles
Some local authorities license special events’ vehicles, catering for up to eight passengers, as private hire cars attaching special conditions of license.
Operators of such vehicles are advised to contact the relevant local authority to check whether the a licence is required for their operation.
Imported stretch limousines should be checked by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) for compliance with regulations under the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) inspection regime before they are registered.
The IVA inspection replaces the former Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) inspection. The SVA test was designed to verify that the converted vehicle was built to certain safety and environmental standards.
For information on taxi and private hire car licensing, please contact Peter Mackenzie-Smith. Telephone 0131 244 3653.