Licensing Updates

Updated 27 April 2020

The current health crisis has had a significant impact on the processing of licensing applications.

Vehicle testing

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

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 licensingservices@westlothian.gov.uk.

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.   

Other hire car applications

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.  

Hire Car Driver Medicals

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:

  1. 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
  2. They are currently managing any pre-existing conditions which they suffer from in line with medical advice, and
  3. They are following government guidance on coronavirus and will cease driving for the required period as required by that guidance, and
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

All Other Licensing Enquiries

The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) continues to have a significant impact on the processing of licence applications.

If you need to get in touch with the Licensing Team, please do so by email to the following address: licensingservices@westlothian.gov.uk

Email enquiries will be prioritised and responded to on a priority/urgent basis. We cannot accept phone calls at present.

In the meantime, applications for licences and permits (with the exception of hire car applications, please refer to the hire car webpages for details of how to make these) should 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. 

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. 

Licences for events

If you are an event organiser you should note that when possible applicants will be able to email amended applications for events which have been postponed due to Covid-19 as long as the details of the event remain exactly the same and only the event date is changing, any other changes to event details will require a new application to be submitted in the usual manner.