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Information about Taxi and Private Hire Cars

Information regarding licensed hire cars and drivers

Wearing Of Face Coverings In Taxi And Private Hire Cars Mandatory From 22 June 2020

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 Covering Guidance

When travelling in either a licensed taxi or private hire car members of the public should be aware of how they can check that the vehicle and the driver is licensed.

There are two types of hire cars licensed by West Lothian Council:



Taxis are vehicles which are identified by a taxi sign on the roof which when lit up indicate that the taxi is available for hire. West Lothian taxis are identified by square blue and white plates which are fitted at the front, rear and interior of the vehicle and show a licensed number. You can hail a West Lothian taxi in the street or hire one at a taxi rank or by pre-booking through a booking office. 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 Car

Private Hire Cars

Private Hire Cars cannot use taxi ranks or be hailed in the street. They must be must be pre-booked. They do not have roof signs and are identified by having white rectangular signs on their front doors indicating that they must be pre-booked.  They also have green oblong licence plates fitted under their registration plates and interior plates giving the licence number of the vehicle.

Private Hire Cars can be either:

  • saloon vehicles licensed to carry only 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

Important information

Drivers of all licensed taxis and private hire cars are also required to be licensed by the Council. They are subject to a strict vetting check carried out by Police Scotland. If you are in any doubt as to whether the driver is licensed you should ask to see his ID badge.

All taxis and the vast majority of private hire cars have meters which should be capable of being viewed by passengers. If the private hire car doesn't have a meter the driver must agree a fare with you before the journey starts.

If you are in any doubt as to whether a car is a licensed vehicle:

1.    Don't get in

2.    Try to remember description of vehicle - registration number if possible

3.    Report unlicensed vehicles to Police Scotland


Complaints regarding licensed taxis or private hire cars and their drivers should  be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email or letter to the Licensing Team providing full details of the nature of the complaint.