Taxi and Private Hire Car Licences
West Lothian Council as licensing authority administers a licensing scheme for taxi and private hire car vehicles and their drivers.
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, vehicle testing and medical assessments.
The Taxi Examination Centre will reopen 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. 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 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 Licensing 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.
Taxis can be hired at a taxi rank, hailed in the street or booked in advance through a booking office. Along with licence plates which are fixed to the front and rear of the vehicle, taxis must also display a roof sign when illuminated indicates the vehicle is available for hire.
Private hire cars must be booked in advance and along with licence plates which are fixed to the front and rear of the vehicle must also display signage on both front doors indicating that the vehicle is a private hire car.
Drivers of both taxis and private hire cars require to be licensed by the council, taxi driver's are able to drive either a taxi or private hire car whereas private hire car driver's can only drive private hire cars.
All West Lothian taxis accommodate between 5 and 7 passengers and must be
- accessible by passengers travelling within wheelchairs by means of suitable ramps into the side doors of the vehicle
- fitted with hi-visibility interior features, interior grab rails, a retractable step and a loop system for use by hearing impaired travellers
Private Hire Cars can be either
- saloon vehicles licensed to carry 4 passengers; or
- larger vehicles fitted with rear passenger lifts which are licensed to carry 8 passengers; these vehicles are suitable for passengers travelling within heavier or bulkier wheelchairs who cannot easily access a vehicle by means of a ramp
All taxis are required to have meters and almost all private hire cars have meters. Where no meter is fitted the driver is required to agree a fixed fare with the passenger before the journey commences and you can access the current
These are the maximum metered fares which can be charged for journeys in taxis and metered private hire cars within the West Lothian Council area. Drivers are required to let passengers see the metered fare at the end of a journey.
For journeys starting or ending outwith West Lothian agreement must be reached before the journey commences either to (1) charge a fixed fare or (2) use the meter.
For journeys within West Lothian the meter should always be used (provided one is fitted) and any fixed fare charged cannot be more than the metered fare.
A copy of the conditions that are applied to hire car licence holders can be found here