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.
The Licensing Team are able to provide general guidance on a 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.
Guidance which has been issued by the Environmental Health/Trading Standards Expert Officers' Group on Covid-19 can be accessed hereand a further document in relation to guidance on screens in taxis and PHCs can be accessed here
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.
As a result of Covid there will be changes to the operation of the TEC to help protect customers and staff, applicants and licence holders will be notified of what to expect when they attend for test prior to the test being carried out.
TEC will also be opening earlier each day 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 daysbefore 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.
If you cancel a test appointment and your plates expire you will not be able to operate after that expiry date until another test can be arranged. There is likely to be significant delay in rearranging cancelled tests.
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 The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020
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.
Renewal applications for both vehicle and driver 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 you 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.
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 a renewal application prior to the expiry of the licence will result 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.
The Licensing Team will contact licence holders about renewals in priority order.
Applications for new licences can be posted to the Licensing Team, West Lothian Council, Civic Centre, Livingston EH54 6FF along with a cheque or postal order for payment of the fee 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.
If you wish to apply for a replacement vehicle test or require replacement plates or brackets, a duplicate licence or ID badge or any other change of circumstance, please email the licensing team for information on how to do this.
You should read the information contained on the webpage for the specific type of application you wish to make, these pages are accessible from from this landing page.
Optima Health undertake medical assessments on behalf of the council, however while they are able to carry out medical assessments for new applicants you should note that due to the ongoing health situation that there may be significant delays in an appointment being arranged.
Current Licence Holders
The council has agreed to temporarily relax the requirement for currently licensed hire car drivers to hold an up to date certificate of medical fitness if required under the DVLA group 2 guidelines for those drivers who can certify that they are fit to drive.
The Licensing Team will attempt to contact all affected drivers to ask them to self-certify. If any of your contact details have changed, we would ask that all drivers waiting to hear about medicals contact the team to update any changes as a matter of urgency.
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.
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