Hire Car Booking Office Licence
West Lothian Council as licensing authority administers a licensing scheme for booking offices taking bookings for 4 or more relevant vehicles.
The current health crisis has had a significant impact on the processing of licensing applications.
The City of Edinburgh Council has announced that the Taxi Examination Centre (TEC) is closed and has noted the announcement made by the DVSA regarding vehicle testing that MOTs for vehicles will be extended from 6 months as from 30 March 2020.
This means that hire car vehicles can continue to operate until the TEC reopens as long as their licences are still in effect. This means that an application to renew the vehicle's licence must have been lodged with West Lothian Council prior to the expiry of the licence. Once the TEC reopens licence holders of all vehicles which have had extensions to their MOTs will be contacted to present their vehicles for a full compliance check.
For the avoidance of doubt all vehicle licence holders and drivers are still required to ensure that their vehicles meet the conditions of fitness contained in their licence conditions at all times when the vehicle is being operated as a hire car.
Please consult the link below to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 which affect the operation of taxis and private hire cars during the current lockdown:
Renewal applications for both vehicle and driver's licences must be lodged online using our Online Licensing Applications and Fee Payments form. Fees are payable by debit or credit card and customers must supply an email address.
Customers can download a word version of the application form to complete and then upload and will be asked to tick a box to sign the form instead of having to physically sign it. If any customers incur problems in making renewal applications online they should email the team at email@example.com.
We are working to be able to accept other applications and payments online and will update our webpages when this facility is available.
Please note that renewal applications must continue to be submitted prior to the expiry of licences to enable the licence to continue in effect after the date of expiry and whilst the renewal application is processed and determined. Therefore, all licence holders should be aware that failure to lodge timeous renewal applications results in the licence ceasing to have effect on its date of expiry.
However, in line with changes made to licensing law in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 the council may treat late applications for renewal as being made timeously on good cause shown if they are submitted within 3 months after the expiry of the licence. If renewal applications could not be made due to the lockdown customers should upload a letter explaining why their application is being lodged late to the online system. Until applications are received licences remain expired if no renewal application was made before the expiry date.
The Licensing Team will contact licence holders about renewals in priority order.
Urgent applications for new licences can be posted to the Licensing Team, West Lothian Council, Civic Centre, Livingston EH54 6FF along with cheques or postal orders for payment of any fee required and copies of all required supporting documentation. However, we are working to be able to accept online applications to speed up the process so if your application is not urgent you may wish to wait until that is available.
If you are unable to post your application and fee please contact the Licensing Team by email. Please be aware that there will likely be delays in the processing of applications due to changes in working conditions at present.
Applicants for new vehicle licences or those who wish to apply to replace their existing vehicles should note that these applications cannot be determined at present as vehicle testing cannot be undertaken, so you may wish to delay making your application at present until testing facilities reopen.
Optima Healthcare who undertake medical assessments on behalf of the council has suspended all assessments at this time as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Therefore, medical assessments of hire car drivers in West Lothian cannot be carried out currently and it is unknown at this stage how long this will last. As a result, the council has agreed to temporarily relax the requirement for hire car drivers to hold a current certificate of medical fitness if required by the DVLA group 2 guidelines whilst medical assessments cannot take place for those drivers who can certify that they are fit to drive.
In the meantime, the Licensing Team will attempt to contact all affected drivers to ask them to self-certify. However, the team currently has very limited access to telephones (and cannot receive calls) so we would ask that all drivers waiting to hear about medicals contact the team by email to provide an email address if they have not already done so.
Instead of attending a medical assessment, all drivers who are continuing to operate as hire car drivers and have a scheduled medical appointment or whose current certificate of fitness is due to expire in the coming months will be contacted by the Licensing Team and asked to certify that:
- They have no new medical conditions that would affect them driving a licensed hire car vehicle, including any of the conditions listed in the application form and any other conditions; and
- They are currently managing any pre-existing conditions which they suffer from in line with medical advice, and
- They are following government guidance on coronavirus and will cease driving for the required period as required by that guidance, and
- They acknowledge that if they suffer from, or are diagnosed with any new medical condition which may affect their fitness to drive a licensed vehicle (see the list of conditions in the hire car driver application form) they must report that information immediately to the Licensing Team (in terms of condition 58 of the taxi driver's licence conditions and condition 54 of the private hire car driver's licence). The Licensing Team will review that information and decide what steps are required to be taken in light of the information disclosed. Any driver requiring to disclose such information to the Licensing Team must do so by using the online form.
- They understand that when medical assessments are able to resume they will be contacted by the Licensing Team to arrange a medical appointment to undergo an assessment with a view to obtaining an up-to-date medical certificate of fitness
If drivers do not respond to contact from the Licensing Team or cannot answer yes to all the certification questions, consideration will be given to suspending those licences until further medical assessments can take place.
If drivers are not intending to drive a hire car at present they should post their ID badge and licence to the Licensing Team at the Civic Centre (the office is currently closed to the public) and indicate whether this is a temporary surrender of their documents or if they want to permanently surrender their licence.
The Team are able to provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required.
Is a licence required?
A booking office licence is required in terms of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Booking Offices) Order 2009 (SSI2009/145) for the following activity:
- the use of premises for the carrying on of a business which consists to any extent of the taking of bookings, by any means of communication, from members of the public for the hire of a relevant vehicle
Licences can be held by individuals, partnerships, companies or formally constituted organisations. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.
Is there any exemption from the need for a licence?
Yes, a licence is not required if the business never takes bookings for more than 3 vehicles. However, it is not the number of vehicles operating on a system at any one time which is relevant, it is the total number of vehicles for which bookings are ever taken. Please see the guidance notes which are attached to the application form.
What is the definition of a "relevant vehicle"?
In terms of Paragraph 1 of the said Order "relevant vehicle" means a vehicle in relation to which a taxi licence Taxi Vehicle Licences or private hire car licence Private Hire Car Vehicle Licenceshas been granted in terms of section 10 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and that licence is in effect.
If you want to apply for a licence you must submit an application form along with the required documents and the appropriate fee.
Application forms which have guidance notes attached to them and a list of fees are available from the downloads section of this page. You should read the guidance notes carefully before completing your application form.
There are two separate application forms. One is for persons applying for a licence as an individual and the other is to be completed by applicants who are companies, partnership or organisations.
All applications are copied to the Cab Inspector at the Taxi Examination Centre. Mandatory background checks will be carried out on all applicants by Police Scotland and applicants' details will be retained on computer. You will be contacted once vetting is complete and given a date for your vehicle to be presented to be tested at the Taxi Examination Centre.
Any member of the public can make an objection or representation about a hire car booking office licence application unless the application is for a temporary licence.
A guidance note explaining how an objection or representation can be made can be viewed here
Some applications will involve a right to work check. In relation to all new and renewal applications made in the name of individuals the Council is required to carry out a right to work check on the applicant. See paragraph 5 of the guidance notes attached to the application form for further details.
Applications made by companies, partnerships and organisations are unaffected.
There is detailed information about right to work checks
We have nine months in which to make a decision regarding your application however the majority of applications are determined within 60 days and applications which do not attract any adverse comments or objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers.
All other applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision to be made to grant or refuse your application. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee. The Committee meets on a monthly basis and you will be sent notice of the date and time of the meeting at which your application is to be considered along with a copy of the report on your application. Meetings are held in the West Lothian Civic Centre and you or your representative will be given the opportunity to explain to the committee at the meeting why you consider your application should be granted
If your application is refused by the Licensing Committee you may have a right of appeal against that decision and can request a written statement of reasons in relation to the decision from the Licensing Team, this must be done within 10 days of the date your application was refused. Appeals against decisions can be made to Livingston Sheriff Court, information regarding the Sheriff Court is available from the Scottish Courtswebsite and you should consult your own legal representative should you wish further information on how to appeal.
Standard conditions that are applied to booking office licences can be found in the downloads section of this page.
A booking office licence is issued for a period of 1 year for both the grant or renewal of a licence.
If you are a current licence holder and wish to vary a condition of your licence you need to make a variation application using the form and pay an administration fee. Please note that a separate application must be made for each licence which you wish to be varied. The application form and a list of fees can be found in the downloads section of this page.
Once your application form and fee are received a copy of your application will be sent to the Council's advisors for their comments. If there are no adverse comments received from advisors the licence can be varied by the Chief Solicitor using delegated powers.
However if any adverse comments are received the application would then need to be referred to the next suitable Licensing Committee for a decision to be taken. If your application needs to go to the committee the whole process may take three to four months depending on how long it takes for the advisors to respond. If your variation application is referred to committee you will be invited to attend the meeting to explain to the committee why you consider your application should be granted.
If you are applying for a new licence or to renew an existing licence and wish to request that any of the standard conditions be varied you can request that at the time you make your application without making a separate variation application. You should include a letter with your application form explaining what condition you wish varied and the reasons for that. The procedure is the same as for variation applications and if any adverse comments are received the application would then need to be referred to the next suitable Licensing Committee for a decision to be taken on the grant or renewal of the application including your request for the conditions to be varied.
You should be aware that if your application requires to be referred to the Licensing Committee that this will delay the determination of your application.
You should notify us as soon as you can if your details change or any of the information given in your application becomes out of date due to a change in your circumstances.
If you no longer wish to hold your licence you can surrender it to the council at any time by returning your licence together with a letter stating that you wish to surrender it. If you surrender your licence it will cease to have effect.
Complaints regarding booking offices should be made directly to the booking office, they have their own complaints procedure and a copy of this should be available from them on request.
Complaints regarding unlicensed booking offices should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.
The following lists contain details of current licence holders, these lists are updated regularly and at least every 12 weeks. For the avoidance of doubt this is the only information available to members of the public