Private Hire Car Driver's Licences
West Lothian Council as licensing authority administers a licensing scheme for private hire car drivers licences. A private hire car driver's licence entitles the holder to drive only a private hire car.
Taxis and private hire cars and the door to door service they provide are essential for people with disabilities. They are a key mode of transport for people who are blind and partially sighted, who are unable to drive and often face barriers when using public transport.
During the pandemic, it remains the case that service providers, including transport providers, have a duty under equality legislation to make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities. And of course, providing such support also represents good customer service.
Guide Dogs Scotland have written guidance for taxi and private hire drivers to make them feel confident when helping passengers with sight loss
On 18 June 2020 the Scottish Government announced that from 22 June 2020 the wearing of face coverings when using public transport is mandatory. This includes taxis and private hire vehicles and includes all drivers and passengers.
In relation to this all hire car drivers and operators should note the following guidance issued by the Scottish Government:
Specific exemptions provide that certain categories of people are not required to wear a face covering. This includes children under five years of age, a constable or an emergency responder acting in the course of their duty. Staff such as drivers who are physically separated, by means of, for example, screens, from other staff and passengers are also exempt from wearing face coverings. An illustrative example of this might be a driver of a vehicle behind a Perspex screen in a taxi.
You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering if, for example:
- you have a health condition where a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently.
- you have a reasonable need to eat or drink
- you need to take medication
- you need to communicate with someone else who relies on lip reading
- a relevant person, such as a police officer, asks you to remove your face covering.
You must provide your own face covering when travelling on public transport. A face covering is a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf. You may also use if you prefer a face visor but it must cover your nose and mouth completely. It is most important that what you wear is comfortable when it is being worn.
Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these regulations.
When applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you must wash a fabric face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of it safely.
In addition to having to wear a face covering on public transport we strongly recommend that you wear a face covering in other enclosed environments, such as shops, as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the virus."
Further information is also available from Transport Scotland Face Coverings on Public Transport
The current health crisis has had a significant impact on the processing of licensing applications, testing of vehicles and medical assessments.
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. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.
Anyone who has held a driving licence issued by DVLA for a continuous period of twelve months can apply for a private hire car driver's licence.
Application forms which have guidance notes attached, a list of fees and a copy of the conditions that are attached to hire car licences can be found in the downloads section at the bottom of this webpage. You should read the guidance notes carefully before completing your application form. You must ensure that you use the most up to date application form as out of date versions cannot be accepted.
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.
There is no requirement for applicants wishing to obtain a private hire car driver's licence to take the topographical test.
If you answer yes to any of the questions in the application regarding health or if you are aged 45 or over when you apply for a private hire car driver's licence you will be referred to the Council's appointed medical advisor who will assess your fitness against the group 2 standards. If you are unsure of the DVLA group 2 standards and how this would affect you applying for a private hire car driver's licence, you should discuss this and your medical history with your own GP before applying.
Information on what to expect during the medical assessment can be found in this leaflet
If you consider that you may qualify for an exemption from assisting wheelchair passengers on grounds of your disability you should contact the Licensing Team who will arrange for you to be examined by Council's appointed medical advisor who will want to see information about your medical condition from your GP.
You should arrive in good time for your appointment and at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time.
You will need to take a number of items with you to your appointment. Please read the information below carefully as failure to bring the necessary items may lead to the examination being cancelled or you being certified as unfit.
If you are a current licence holder you must bring your West Lothian Council taxi or private hire car driver's licence (these are printed on yellow or pink card) and the identity card (ID) issued with your licence, these should be handed to the receptionist before the assessment
If you are a new applicant you must bring either your passport or photocard DVLA driving licence, this will be checked by the receptionist prior to the assessment
If you are currently prescribed any medications by your GP you must bring these with you or a copy of your prescription
If you wear glasses or contact lenses for driving you must bring these with you plus a copy of your eye prescription
You should bring with you any supporting medical information in relation to any conditions from your own health care professional, see the guidance notes to the application for further information
You should contact the Licensing Team as soon as you receive this leaflet if you are unable to bring any of the above items with you.
If you cancel this appointment or fail to attend on time you will be responsible for paying a missed medical fee and a further appointment will not be arranged until that fee is paid.
It is Council policy that new applicants for hire car driver's licences must be certified fit to drive a hire car for a minimum period of one year. You should therefore discuss your medical history and the application of the Group 2 standards with your GP prior to submitting your application as additional tests may require to be arranged by your doctor before you can be certified as fit to drive a hire car. You should bring any additional information which your own doctor obtains to the medical assessment.
If you fail to be certified fit to drive for a minimum period of one year your application will be refused. Normally you cannot reapply for the same type of licence for a period of 12 months from the date the application was refused, however if your medical condition changes you can submit an application along with a letter giving reasons why there has been a change in your circumstances and your application should be accepted.
Existing Licence Holders
If you are an existing licence holder and if any of the following occurs your licence will be immediately suspended:
- If you fail a medical; or
- report a change to your medical history which may mean that you no longer comply with the DVLA group 2 standards
You can contact the Licensing Team to arrange a further medical appointment once you have been advised by your GP that in their view you now meet the DVLA group 2 standards and that you are in a position to resume driving a hire car. Please ensure that you discuss the DVLA group 2 standards with your doctor as they may not be aware that these are applied to hire car drivers in West Lothian. Depending on your medical history if no evidence is available from your GP the council's medical advisors may be unable to certify you fit immediately and may need to request follow up reports. These reports can only be requested following a medical assessment and with your consent.
Yes, for all new hire car driver's applications and applications to renew existing hire car drivers licences lodged after 1 December 2016, the Council is required to carry out a right to work check. See paragraph 7 of the guidance notes attached to the application form for further details. There is detailed information about right to work checks Home Office Guidance on Right to Work ChecksIn dealing with your application the council must follow the Guidance for Licensing Authorities in Scotland to Prevent Illegal Working in The Taxi And Private Hire Car Sector issued by the Home Office
See paragraph 3 of the guidance notes attached to the application form. There is detailed information about declaring convictions
You will be contacted by the Licensing Team once your application has been vetted by Police Scotland to update you regarding the process of your application. Police Scotland has 28 days in which to respond to your application.
Following any required right to work check or medical, applications which do not attract any adverse comments/objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers.
If you do not have a right to work in the UK your application cannot be processed further.
If you require a medical and are not certified fit by the council's medical advisors your application will require to be refused by the Chief Solicitor using her delegated powers. You will be able to reapply for another licence after a year has passed after the refusal or sooner if there is a material change in your circumstances.
All other applications where adverse comments/objections are received require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for determination. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee. The Committee meets on a monthly basis.
We have nine months in which to determine your application however the majority of applications are determined within 60 days.
You will be contacted once your licence has been granted to make arrangements for you to collect the licence and ID badge and sign for your conditions. You will require to produce evidence of your identity before you can collect and sign for the documentation.
A private hire car driver's licence is normally issued for a period of 3 years for both the grant or renewal of a licence, however in certain circumstances as noted below this may be for a shorter period:
- Applications that have been considered by the Licensing Committee - the Committee have powers to determine how long a licence can be granted and on some occasions this may be for a period less than 3 years
- Where a person's immigration permission to live and work in the UK is time-limited - a hire car drivers licence can only be issued for a period which will not exceed the period of permission to be in the UK
The standard conditions for private hire car driver's licences and the conditions of fitness for private hire cars can be found in the downloads section of this page.
If you are a current licence holder and are considering varying any of your hire car conditions, to do this you need to make a variation application using this formand pay the administration fee to amend your licence.
Once your application form and fee are received a copy of this will be sent to Police Scotland and the Taxi Examination Centre. If no adverse comments are received the licence can be varied by the Chief Solicitor if she is content to use her delegated powers.
However if any adverse comments are received or the Chief Solicitor is not prepared to use her delegated powers 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. You will be invited to attend the meeting to explain to the committee why you believe 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 delegated powers are not used to vary the standard conditions 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 taxi or private hire vehicles and drivers may be made to the Licensing Team. These must be in writing either by letter or email firstname.lastname@example.org and give all the information you can about the driver or the vehicle. Please include brief details of the complaint giving the date, time and location of the incident.
Complaints cannot be investigated unless received in the required format. If you cannot make a complaint in writing please contact the Licensing Team for assistance by calling 01506 281632. If you are diverted to our voicemail please leave a message and we can call you back on a number if you have one which accepts anonymous calls.
All complaints which are received in writing, either by letter or email are referred to the TEC for investigation. If your complaint involves an allegation that the licence holder has committed an offence you must report this first to Police Scotland by calling 101 or attending at a police station. Once you have a crime reference number you should make your complaint to the Licensing Team and include the crime reference number. Further information in relation to hire car enforcement can be found here Hire Car Enforcement
The following document provides information about types of complaints and outcomes.