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.
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.
A reminder letter along with an application form and a letter from the Taxi Examination Centre giving details of your inspection date will be sent to you approximately two months before the expiry date of your current licence. Your licence will continue in force if a valid renewal application is received prior to the expiry of your current licence, however, you must check when the Certificate of Compliance for the vehicle expires and that date is shown on the licence plates for the vehicle.
Please ensure that the vehicle passes its annual test before the certificate expires as in terms of the licence conditions a vehicle cannot operate unless it has a current certificate of compliance and licence plates. Breach of the conditions is a criminal offence.
If you fail to renew your licence before the expiry date the licence expires automatically and you cannot submit your vehicle for testing.
It is important that you notify the Licensing Team if your address or contact details change.
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