Private Hire Car Vehicle Licences
West Lothian Council as licensing authority administers a licensing scheme for private hire cars (PHC). The Council does not restrict the numbers of private hire cars which can be licensed.
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 Taxi Examination Centre reopened on 22 July 2020 for taxi & PHC inspections. Licence holders do not need to contact West Lothian Council's Licensing Team regarding inspection dates. City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) staff will begin contacting licence holders regarding inspection dates shortly starting with licences due to expire on or after 1 August 2020.
Testing of replacement vehicles other than at the time of annual test will recommence from 27 July 2020. Please submit your application to West Lothian council's Licensing Team by posting it along with a cheque to the team at the Civic Centre.
As a result of Covid there will be changes to the operation of the TEC to help protect customers and staff. These include:
- Vehicle documents and confirmation of renewal applications MUST be submitted electronically to CEC at least 7 days prior to tests
- Vehicle key drop off arrangements
CEC staff will confirm all changes when licence holders are contacted regarding their test. Please ensure that West Lothian's Licensing Team has your up to date email address and telephone number to forward to the TEC.
In order to make up for lost time CEC have increased the testing capacity at the TEC and it will also be opening earlier each day. There are a number of vehicle tests to be conducted by the end of 2020 and both CEC and West Lothian Council would like to thank customers for their patience and co-operation in advance.
Please ensure that you apply to renew your vehicle licence as soon as possible and at least 8 days before it is due to expire. You cannot wait until the licence expires. You must apply to renew online, see the information below. You will receive an acknowledgement when your application is received. You must email that acknowledgement to the TEC (Taxi.Examination@edinburgh.gov.uk) along with a copy of your V5 and your insurance certificate at least 7 days before your test. You will receive an acknowledgement to confirm this has been received, if you have not received this acknowledgement ASAP or 7 days in advance of the test, it cannot proceed and the test will be cancelled and your vehicle will not be able to operate after your plates expire until another test can be arranged. There is likely to be significant delay in rearranging cancelled tests.
This webpage will be updated when more information is available.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
The licensing team have received an update from the Taxi Examination Centre (TEC) in relation to the above and due to the ongoing health situation in relation to Covid-19 and to the operational changes at the TEC they will no longer be issuing either the MOT or certificate of compliance. The current position is that if you need a copy of your MOT for any reason you will need to go onto the gov.uk website and access it there. The licence plates are evidence for any enforcement officer that a certificate of compliance is in place for a hire car vehicle.
The licensing team have received an update from the Taxi Examination Centre (TEC) in relation to the above and due to the ongoing health situation in relation to Covid-19 and to the operational changes at the TEC they will no longer be issuing either the MOT or certificate of compliance.
The current position is that if you need a copy of your MOT for any reason you will need to go onto the gov.uk website and access it there. The licence plates are evidence for any enforcement officer that a certificate of compliance is in place for a hire car vehicle.
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. However, we are working to be able to accept online applications for new licences in future.
If you are unable to post your application and fee please contact the Licensing Team by email.
Please be aware that due to the ongoing health situation and changes in procedures in processing applications for new vehicles and vehicle testing arrangements, at present approximate timescales can't be given.
If you have any questions about making any other types of application in relation to your current licence please email the licensing team.
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.
You can licence either a saloon type vehicle with exactly four passenger seats (type 1 PHC) or a larger type vehicle with exactly 8 passenger seats (type 2 PHC) which is fitted with a passenger lift and meets an accessibility standard so that it is capable of carrying passengers travelling with wheelchairs and other disabled passengers.
A type 1 PHC must meet the following criteria;
- saloon or saloon derivative vehicle (such as an estate model based on a saloon vehicle)
- have a minimum of four doors
- have exactly four passenger seats
- have a minimum back seat cushion width of 125cm
- have a maximum CO2 emission level of 150g/km for diesel vehicles or a maximum CO2 emission level of 165g/km for petrol vehicles (have a minimum engine size of 1400cc unless it is an electric or hybrid vehicle
A type 2 PHC must meet the following criteria and accessibility standard;
- be fitted with a passenger lift
- is based on a different model of vehicle from those vehicles listed on the approved list of taxi vehicles Taxi Vehicle Licences
- have a maximum CO2 emission level of 225g/km
- hi-visibility interior upholstery and interior grab rails (passenger seating must contain hi visibility panels which should be a permanent feature of the seating rather than seat covers)
- a retractable step
- a hearing loop system
In recognition of the difficulties in assessing the emission level for Type 2 PHCs which do not have an emission level on the V5, the position is -
- If the emission level is stated on the V5 for the vehicle then TEC will rely on that and not accept any other evidence of the emission level
- If there is no emission level stated on the V5 for the vehicle, in such cases only, TEC would consider that having the vehicle reset to comply may be acceptable provided this is done by a properly qualified garage and evidence of work done is provided to the satisfaction of the Senior Vehicle Examiner. This should be in the form of a headed receipt from the garage confirming the emission level and details of the work carried out to the vehicle
There is no age limit in relation to private hire car vehicles.
In addition, all PHCs must hold a valid European Whole Vehicle Type Approval as an M1 vehicle or such equivalent amended certification as issued by the Vehicle Certification Agency or its successors, in relation to Type 2 PHCs they must hold low volume type approval or such equivalent amended certification as issued by the Vehicle Certification Agency or its successors, must comply in all respects with the requirements of all Acts and Regulations relating to motor vehicles and comply with the following accessibility standard to the satisfaction of the Cab Inspector.
All vehicles are tested at the Taxi Examination Centre, Murrayburn Road, Edinburgh and for the avoidance of doubt like all of the hire car conditions of fitness a vehicle must comply with these conditions to the satisfaction of the senior examiner.
You can apply to licence a vehicle which does not meet the Council's specification for private hire cars. However, you need to include with your application a letter providing reasons why you believe the Council should consider departing from its policy in your case. If your request is based on medical grounds you should include with your application a medical report supporting your application for a particular type of vehicle which the Council is obliged to consider as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010. All applications to licence vehicles which do not meet the specification will be referred to the Licensing Committee for determination and can be expected to take several months to be determined as additional reports will need to be obtained. As with all licensing applications, if your application is refused no refund of the fee will be given.
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.
Applications which do not attract any adverse comments/objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers. All other applications 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 renewal applications are determined within 60 days. Applications for new licences take longer to be determined as the vehicles have to be allocated a test date by the Taxi Examination Centre which may take between 6 and 12 weeks depending on availability of test slots at the Taxi Examination Centre.
After a successful test a certificate of compliance for the vehicle will be issued by the Taxi Examination Centre. The Taxi Examination Centre will then advise the Licensing Team of this and following that the licence can be granted under delegated powers. Once the licence has been granted you will be contacted so you can arrange to attend at the Taxi Examination Centre to collect the vehicle licence plates to allow you to start operating the vehicle.
In relation to applications for new licences the vehicle licence plates cannot be issued until the licence has been granted. In relation to renewal applications the vehicle cannot be tested and issued with licence plates until a competent renewal application has been made. A copy of the receipt for the renewal application must be presented at the Taxi Examination Centre before the test can take place. All licence holders and drivers must be familiar with the licensing conditions before operating hire car vehicles. These are available from the downloads section of this webpage.
A private hire car licence is issued for a period of 1 year for both the grant or renewal of a licence.
The standard conditions for private hire car licences and the conditions of fitness for private hire cars can be found in the downloads section of this page.
Guidance is available from the downloads section of this webpage.
If you are a current licence holder and want to replace your vehicle, you must submit the appropriate replacement vehicle application form along with the appropriate fee.
Application forms which have guidance notes attached to them are available from the downloads section of this page. You should read the guidance notes carefully before completing your application form.
If you are a current licence holder and are considering varying any of your hire car conditions in relation to your vehicle, to do this you need to make a variation application using this formand pay an administration fee, in relation to an amendment to your licence. Please note that a separate application must be made for each licence which you wish to be varied. A list of fees can be found in downloads section of this page.
Once your application form and fee are received a copy of your application will be sent to the Taxi Examination Centre for the views of the Senior Vehicle Examiner and the Cab Inspector. If there are no adverse comments received from either officer 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 two to three months depending on how long it takes for the TEC 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 believe your application should be granted.
If you are applying for a new licence or to renew or replace your vehicle on 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 as your vehicle will not be tested until application has been considered by the committee.
The legislation does not allow licences to be transferred apart from on a temporary basis when a licence holder dies
If you hold a private hire car licence as an individual and wish that licence to be held in the name of your company or partnership you can make an application for a new licence for that vehicle in your business name and surrender the existing licence once the new licence is ready to be granted. There are separate application forms for businesses. This would also apply if a licence is currently held in a company name and you wish that licence to be held in the name of an individual. There is a separate form for an individual.
Despite the fact that you already hold a licence for the vehicle the application must be dealt with as a new application and you should note that as for all new applications there will be a delay in having the vehicle tested. In addition, if you have previously had your licence varied to change any of the conditions you will need to include with your application a letter explaining which of the conditions of fitness you wish varied and why, see paragraph 3 of the guidance notes attached to the application form. This can also delay the processing of your application. You should seek legal advice regarding this
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.
The Council has a policy in relation to the installation of CCTV in a licensed private hire car vehicle.
CCTV is defined in the conditions as "an electronic security system capable of recording and storing a record of entry or exit of passengers either by way of video or digital images". Schedule D of the hire car conditions contains the approved specification and conditions which will be imposed following an application being granted.
An application form must be completedand lodged with the required fee as detailed in the guidance notes attached to the form. If the specification of the system you wish to install complies with the minimum specification, your application will be able to be granted using delegated powers once a report on your application is obtained from the Taxi Examination Centre (TEC) confirming this and your vehicle is successfully tested at TEC once the system has been installed.
If you wish to install a CCTV system which records passengers but which does not fully comply with the specification in Schedule D that may need to be referred to the Licensing Committee in the same way as any other application which is outwith policy. If this is the case it would be helpful if in making your application you could include a letter providing details of the specification of the system you wish to install and detailing why the committee should consider varying the specification in your case to allow you to install a system which does not comply with the specification. Technology has moved on since the specification was drawn up and reports from TEC and Police Scotland will be requested for comments on whether a system which does not fully comply with the specification should be permitted.
If adverse comments are received your application would need to be referred to Committee for a decision to be made and you will be invited to attend a meeting to put forward your case. If no adverse comments are received your application should be able to be granted using delegated powers once the vehicle is successfully tested at TEC after the system has been installed.
Systems such as dashcams which do not record passengers
In terms of the hire car conditions approval is required from the TEC to install any additional fittings on a licensed vehicle. If you intend to install one of those types of systems, you should email or write to the Licensing Team detailing the type of system you are proposing. This information would be forwarded to the TEC for consideration. If the TEC have no adverse comments to make regarding the installation you would be advised to proceed with the installation and asked to make arrangement with TEC to take your vehicle for inspection of the systems when installed. There is no application process or fee for the approval of this type of installation.
Complaints regarding private hire vehicles may be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email to email@example.com or letter and give all the information you can about the nature of the complaint and include the date, time and location where the vehicle was giving cause for concern.
All complaints which are received in writing, either by letter or email are referred to the Taxi Examination Centre (TEC) for investigation. If your complaint involves an allegation that an offence has been committed 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.
Complaints regarding unlicensed private hire vehicles should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.
The Taxi Examination Centre are based at 33 Murrayburn Road, Edinburgh, EH14 2TF and can be contacted by telephone on 0131 529 5800 or by email TEC