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 PHC vehicles which can be licensed and if the vehicle is a saloon or saloon derivative (type 1) it must meet a set criteria and for type 2 (8 passenger seat vehicle fitted with a tail lift) it must also meet an accessibility standard as set out in the licensing conditions.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 your vehicle has been previously considered a write off, in line with guidance from TEC, only vehicles that are categorised as N or S can be considered. Categories A and B should not be repaired and would not be considered suitable for licensing.
If you intend requesting that a category N or S vehicle be presented for licensing you would also require to submit a copy of the insurance company report which gives details why the vehicle had been classified as a write-off and a copy of the repairer's invoice. This will allow TEC to check what was required to repair the vehicle and what repairs were completed. If the vehicle has had extensive repair work carried out TEC may also ask for an independent engineer's report. If there is no insurance or repairers' paperwork then an independent engineers report would normally suffice, all documents would be subject to scrutiny by the TEC.
You can download a copy of the most recent version of the application form which can be found in the downloads section at the bottom of this page and you should save that to the device you are using (for example your phone, tablet or PC). You can complete the form by typing the information into the boxes on the form and you must sign the form to confirm that the information is correct, you can do that by typing your name in the declaration section of the form as the council accepts this as a signature. You should then check that the form has been fully completed and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org You will receive an emailed acknowledgement if it has been successfully delivered.
On completing the application form you have also confirmed that you have read and understood the conditions that apply to a private hire vehicle, and to prevent any delays with vehicle testing you should pay particular attention to Schedule B of those conditions as they give details of the condition of fitness that a vehicle must meet when it is presented for test, for example the tint in windows and accessibility features.
Once your form has been checked by the Licensing Team you will be emailed with information about how to make an online payment of the fee, details of fees can be found in the downloads section of this page however you will be advised by the licensing team of the correct amount and given a reference number which you must use when making the payment.
All applications for hire car licences 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.
If you have are unable to make an application using this preferred method please email the licensing team.
Please note that applications cannot be submitted at the Civic Centre or at Arrochar House.
For information on how to make a renewal application please access our renewal webpage Applications for Renewal of Taxi and Private Hire Car Vehicle Licences Fees are payable by debit or credit card and customers must supply an email address.
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. The licensing team will send an email to remind you of when your licence is due to expire, however this is a courtesy and the onus is on you as the licence holder to make a renewal application prior to the expiry of a licence.
The council has a very limited power to treat late applications for renewal as being made on time if they are submitted within 28 days after the expiry date of the licence but this power can only be exercised if good cause is shown why the application was not made on time.
If you want to apply to renew a licence within 28 days of its expiry date you can still make the application as noted above and you must also upload a letter or give details by email explaining why your application is being lodged late. Late applications are considered by the Chief Solicitor and the licence remains expired until a decision has been made by the Chief Solicitor whether good cause has been shown to accept the late application as a renewal.
Subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, all unspent convictions, fixed penalties and alternatives to prosecution must be declared including all breaches of road traffic law and you can find further information on that by using this link Scottish Government Guidance on Disclosure of Convictions which takes you to guidance from the Scottish Government regarding the disclosure of convictions, including spent convictions or alternatives to prosecution. If you have previous convictions and have doubts as to which offences are spent you may wish to seek legal advice before completing an application.
Subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, all unspent convictions, fixed penalties and alternatives to prosecution must be declared including all breaches of road traffic law and you can find further information on that by using this link Scottish Government Guidance on Disclosure of Convictions which takes you to guidance from the Scottish Government regarding the disclosure of convictions, including spent convictions or alternatives to prosecution.
If you have previous convictions and have doubts as to which offences are spent you may wish to seek legal advice before completing an application.
If you are a current licence holder and you are charged with any crime or offence, or are issued with a fixed penalty or an alternative to prosecution (including all breaches of road traffic law) you should contact the Licensing Team immediately to provide us with details of the offence.
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.
TEC be contacted by email TEC
Once a vehicle passes an inspection you will be issued with a Certificate of Compliance and licence plates. However, you should note that MOT certificates are not routinely issued in paper format and if you require a copy of your MOT you can access it from the gov.uk website or alternatively you can request a printed copy from TEC.
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.
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.
The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 contains a number of grounds on which applications can be refused If none of these grounds is found to exist the application must be granted. Licensing caselaw makes it clear that in making decisions on any application under Part II of the 1982 Act a committee should have adequate factual material before it to support its conclusions and any reasons given should be those related to the objects of the civic government licensing legislation.
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 driver's licences and the conditions of fitness for private hire cars can be found in the downloads section of this page. A breach of any of these conditions could lead to a licence holder being reported to the Licensing Committee which has power to suspend or revoke a licence. In addition you should be aware that a breach of a condition is a criminal offence.
If you are a current licence holder and are considering making a request to vary any of your hire car conditions in relation to your vehicle, you can do that by making an application and the application and a list of fees can be found in downloads section of this page. Please note that a separate application and fee must be made for each licence you wish to be considered.
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.
As the conditions form part of council policy the onus is on the licence holder to satisfy the committee that there are good reasons why the particular condition should be disapplied in their case.
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.
If you are a current licence holder and want to replace your vehicle you should complete the appropriate replacement vehicle application form and application forms are available from the downloads section of this page. Once a form has been received the licensing team will request TEC to contact you to arrange a test date.
Guidance is available from the downloads section of this webpage.
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
The Council has a policy in relation to the installation of CCTV in a licensed taxi 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 and a list of fees is available from the downloads section of this page.
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.
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 a system that does not record the inside of the vehicle and does not fall under the CCTV definition then you should email the Licensing Team detailing the type of system you are proposing and 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 an appointment with TEC to take your vehicle for inspection of the system when installed. There is no application process or fee for the approval of this type of installation.
You are able to request replacement licence plates, brackets, door stickers or a duplicate licence by completing an application form which is available from the downloads section of this page.
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.
It is important that you let the Licensing Team know immediately if you change your address, phone number or email address so we can contact you about any licensing issues including when your next medical is due.
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 can be referred to the Taxi Examination Centre (TEC) for investigation. However, if your complaint involves an allegation that the licence holder has committed an offence 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 where an offence has been committed can still be forwarded on to TEC and will be monitored until the Police Scotland investigation is concluded, in the event where no action is taken by Police Scotland the detail of the complaint can still be considered from a licensing perspective.
Complaints cannot be investigated unless received in the required format.
Complaints regarding unlicensed private hire vehicles should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.