Taxi & minicab licence

Taxi & minicab licence

Local authorities are responsible for licensing hackney carriages, private hire vehicles, drivers and private hire operators.

Taxi & minicab licence

It is the responsibility of local authorities to licence hackney carriages, private hire vehicles, drivers and private hire operators.

Hackney carriage
A hackney carriage is a public transport vehicle with no more than eight passenger seats and is licensed for customers to hire. It may stand at ranks, be hailed in the street by members of the public, or can be used on a pre-booked basis.

As a result of local government reorganisation in Northumberland, there are currently six hackney carriage zones; Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Blyth Valley, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale and Wansbeck. A hackney carriage licensed in one zone may not be licensed for hire in another in Northumberland, or elsewhere in the country. Relevant bylaws apply to each zone, to control the conduct of both proprietors and drivers.

The law allows a council to require that a hackney carriage is clearly identified through design features. The council has applied standards for hackney carriages to ensure they are:
  • suitable in type, size and design
  • in a suitable mechanical condition
  • safe
  • comfortable
In addition to the above general requirements, the council has exercised its discretion to apply the following standards:
  • clear display of a licence plate provided by the council on the exterior of the vehicle. It must be securely attached to the rear of the vehicle by rivets, bolts or screws, an alternative location may be agreed upon to accommodate the vehicle design.
  • fitted with an approved taxi meter and sealed to the satisfaction of the council
  • clear display of a council-supplied door marker, placed centrally on each of the front doors of the vehicle. The markers are to be securely fixed to the vehicle doors at all times.
  • fitted with a roof sign of a particular size and design. Please see here for more details.
  • display the vehicle licensing details inside the vehicle in a form provided by the council
  • permit any passenger to communicate with the driver, either directly or through an approved communication system
  • have adequate space for luggage and folded wheelchair
  • each individual seat must be a minimum of 400mm (16") in width. The council may reduce the permitted number of passengers specified by the vehicle manufacturer. The licensing officer will determine this if the seating doesn’t conform, or for other reasons associated with the comfort and safety of passengers.
Applications for a new hackney carriage vehicle licence must demonstrate a vehicle suitable in type, size and construction to carry persons in wheelchairs.

Additional vehicle conditions are included in the taxi licensing policy, and may be attached to the grant of a licence if deemed necessary.
Application process
Before a licence is issued, all vehicles must pass a mechanical inspection by a Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA-authorised) MOT examiner at a VOSA-authorised testing station. There are a number of testing stations authorised by the council within Northumberland.

If the owner of a garage also owns a private hire or hackney carriage vehicle, they must not conduct their own vehicle testing – even if the premises has been authorised by the council.

Before a licence is issued, all vehicles must pass a mechanical inspection by a Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA-authorised) MOT examiner at a VOSA-authorised testing station.

In order to ensure impartially, consistency, greater communication and to ensure public safety the Council has determined that all mechanical inspections shall be conducted at a Northumberland County Council Depot.  The Council depots are based at:-
  • Alnwick Depot, Lionheart Workshop, Hawthorn Close, Alnwick, NE66 2ER
  • Stakeford Depot, East View, Stakeford, Choppington, NE62 5TR
  • Tyne Mills Depot, Tyne Mills Industrial Estate, Hexham, NE46 1XW
The Council shall put in place alternative testing arrangements to address any unforseen circumstances which make the Council depot facilities unavailable.
 
Private hire vehicles
Private hire vehicles must have no more than eight passenger seats and must be booked in advance through a licensed private hire operator. They cannot be hired in the street.
Any vehicle used as a private hire vehicle must be licensed under section 48(1)(a) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, which requires the council to be satisfied that any vehicle is:
  • suitable in type, size and design 
  • not have a design and appearance that may lead a person to believe it is a hackney carriage
  • in a suitable mechanical condition
  • safe
  • comfortable
In addition to the statutory requirements as set out above, the council has exercised its discretion and private hire vehicles must also:
  • not be fitted with a roof sign of any description. This could lead a person to believe that the vehicle is a hackney carriage.
  • clearly display a licence plate provided by the council on the exterior of the rear of the vehicle. This must be securely attached to the vehicle by rivets, bolts or screws.
  • display a door marker supplied by the council centrally on each of the front doors of the vehicle. The markers should be securely fixed to vehicle doors at all times.
  • display the vehicle licensing details inside the vehicle in a form provided by the council.
  • permit any passenger to communicate with the driver, either directly or through an approved communication system.
  • have a boot or load carrying area with adequate space for the safe and secure storage of luggage. Saloon or estate vehicles should not have this area within the passenger compartment. This area should never interfere with the safe access and exit of passengers and the minimum space required must allow a folded wheelchair to be carried.
 
If the vehicle is fitted with a meter, it must be properly tested, sealed and approved by the council.

The seating capacity of the vehicle will be determined by the council. Each individual seat must be a minimum of 400mm (16") in width. If the seating does not conform to this, or if the comfort and safety of the passengers is questioned, the council may reduce the permitted number of passengers.

Additional vehicle conditions are included in the taxi licensing policy, and may be attached to the grant of a licence if deemed necessary.
Application process
For full application requirements and guidance notes please click on the related documents below.
Drivers
To view the current taxi licensing policy, please click here.

To issue a licence, the council must be satisfied the applicant is fit to hold a driver’s licence and has been entitled to drive a motor car for at least 12 months. The council’s duty is to ensure conditions are met and each applicant must be able to demonstrate this. In addition to the statutory requirements, the council will exercise its discretion and all applicants are subject to additional conditions.

All new applicants for driver’s licences will be required to:
  • pass a test
  • submit a medical certificate
  • provide access to their driving entitlement/endorsements
  • apply for an enhanced disclosure and barring service certificate (DBS) 
  • provide proof of their identity and entitlement to work in the UK
For full application requirements and guidance notes, please click here and here.

For a sample list of locality questions, please click choose an area here: Alnwick, Berwick , Blyth, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, Wansbeck.

Disclosure and Barring Applications
 
We are now offering applicants the opportunity to use an online system to submit DBS applications.
 
The website address is : https://disclosure.capitarvs.co.uk/nereo/
The organisation reference is: NCCPPL
Password:  NCC

Please click here for guidance notes on this system.


For specific queries regarding medical issues or criminal convictions, please contact the licensing section for informal advice.
Will tacit consent apply?
No. It is in the public interest for the authority to process your application before it can be granted.
Consumer complaint
In the event of a complaint please first contact the trader, preferably in the form of a letter with proof of delivery.  If this doesn't work, please contact the licensing section.

Alternatively, contact Citizens Advice or if you are outside of the UK, please contact the UK European Consumer Centre.
 
Related documents