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 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.
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
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.
Application forms for the grant of a licence 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.
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. If you are unable to post your application and fee please contact the Licensing Team by email.
Please be aware that due to the ongoing health situation and changes in procedures for new vehicle applications and vehicle testing arrangements there may be significant delays in progressing your application.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 you want to apply to renew a licence within the 3 month period after its expiry date you can still make the application using the online system, you must also upload a letter 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 to accept the late application as a renewal.
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 twelve 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.
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.
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 complete the appropriate replacement vehicle application form email the licensing team for details of how to make this type of application.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Operational changes made at the TEC mean that the MOT certificate will no longer be issued in paper format. If you require a copy of your MOT you can access it from the gov.uk website. A certificate of compliance will be issued by TEC for your vehicle and in future this will done by email, you must ensure you have an up to date email address to ensure that you can received the certificate.
Operational changes made at the TEC mean that the MOT certificate will no longer be issued in paper format. If you require a copy of your MOT you can access it from the gov.uk website.
A certificate of compliance will be issued by TEC for your vehicle and in future this will done by email, you must ensure you have an up to date email address to ensure that you can received the certificate.
If you wish to apply for a replacement vehicle test or require replacement plates, brackets, door stickers or a duplicate licence or ID badge or want to notify us about any other change of circumstance, please email the licensing team.
If you are a current licence holder and you are charged with any crime or offence of any nature including road traffic offences, or are issued with any fixed penalty you should contact the Licensing Team immediately to provide us with details of the offence.
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.
The Taxi Examination Centre are based at 33 Murrayburn Road, Edinburgh, EH14 2TF and can be contacted by email TEC