Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy
3. Hackney carriage and/or private hire driver licence
Sections 51 and 59 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 require that a “council shall not grant a driver’s licence to drive a private hire vehicle or hackney carriage unless they are satisfied that an applicant is a fit and proper person”.
There is no definition of this term within the legislation but the relevant case law states that:
“those licensed to drive private hire vehicles are suitable persons to do so, namely that they are safe drivers with good driving records and adequate experience ; sober, mentally and physically fit, honest and not persons who would take advantage of their employment to abuse or assault passengers”
McCool-v-Rushcliffe Borough Council (1998)
Another frequently applied test is whether a reasonable person, having access to all relevant information, would feel comfortable and confident allowing the applicant or driver to drive a close friend or relative.
In order for you to demonstrate that you are “fit and proper” you need to provide evidence of the following:
- An acceptable driving standard
- Appropriate attitude / behaviour / integrity
- Medical fitness
- Honesty and trustworthiness
- Relevant knowledge necessary for the role (including training on safeguarding and disability awareness)
- An acceptable understanding of English
Application forms must be completed in full.
Applying for a licence
If you are applying for a new licence you will need to do the following:
- Submit an application form completed in full
- You will need to apply for an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Certificate (including checks on the adult and children barred lists) and register with the DBS Update Service. If you have already subscribed to the service you will have to provide a copy of your most recent Disclosure Certificate. You should read the council’s Convictions and Acceptable Behaviour Policy (Appendix 4) and contact the Licensing Service before you make an application if you have any previous convictions or cautions and want advice on whether your application is likely to be successful
- Provide 1 colour, passport sized photograph of yourself, taken within the last month, prior to the application which conform to the standards required by HM Passport Office. The photograph must be signed on the back by you and state your name and address
- Provide your original DVLA driving licence. You must have held a full DVLA or EU licence (or equivalent requirement after 01 January 2021) for at least 3 years (see 3.2 below)
- If your driving licence was issued in England, Wales, or Scotland, you must provide a DVLA check code and signed mandate form to share your driving licence information with us. This will enable us to view your driving record and check your penalty points or disqualifications
- If you have been absent from the United Kingdom for a continuous period of 3 months or more since the age of 18 you will have to provide a certificate of good conduct from the local police or the embassy of all of the countries you have stayed at
- Provide a pass certificate for the practical driving test taken with one of our approved providers. This test will include some verbal questions - more information about this part of the application process can be found in our guidance notes
- Pass the approved English language test
- Provide a medical certificate which has been completed and signed / stamped by your own registered doctor or, alternatively, completed by a doctor who has access to your full medical records and is registered with the General Medical Council, with the prior agreement of Buckinghamshire Council
- You must provide evidence that you are entitled to live and work in the United Kingdom or an online Home Office right to work share code. We will only accept documents that have been approved by the Home Office for these purposes.
Further details on these requirements and the process for applying for a licence are available here.
If you have taken no action with your application for a period of six months, we will write to you and ask if you want to continue with your application. If you do not reply within 14 days your application will be archived and you will need to submit a fresh application should you still want to obtain a licence.
Driver licences will usually be issued for a three year period, although they may be issued for a shorter period depending on the circumstances of the case. If you have only been granted a temporary right to work in the UK you will be granted short term licences as required by the Immigration Act 2016. You will need to pay a fee for additional short term licences in these circumstances.
Renewing a licence
If you are renewing an existing licence you will need to apply before your licence expires and provide the following:
- A completed application form
- The correct fee
- Your most recent Disclosure and Barring Service Disclosure certificate
- Your original DVLA driving licence
- A medical certificate that has been completed and signed / stamped by your registered doctor or, alternatively, a doctor who has access to your full medical records and is registered with the General Medical Council, with the prior agreement of Buckinghamshire Council
- Provide 1 colour, passport sized photograph of yourself, taken within the last month, prior to the application which conforms to the standards required by HM Passport Office. The photograph must be signed on the back by you and state your name and address
- A DVLA check code and signed mandate form to share your driving licence information with us
- If you have been absent from the United Kingdom for a continuous period of 3 months or more since your last licence was issued, you must provide a certificate of good conduct from the country or countries where you have stayed or from the relevant embassy or embassies (see 3.5 below).
- For those not holding a UK passport, evidence will need to be provided of the applicant’s continued right to work in the United Kingdom, which will include a relevant visa or letter from the appropriate Embassy / Authority.
All applications must be accompanied where appropriate by the required fee set by the council. Licensing fees are reviewed, considered by the council and agreed every year.
3.2 Driving standards
You must have held a full driving licence for a continuous period of at least three years in order to apply for a taxi or private hire driver licence.
If you have been disqualified from driving for any period as a result of a conviction, you will not be granted a licence until you have held a full DVLA driving licence for a continuous period of at least one year.
If you hold an exchangeable driving licence (one that has been issued in Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Republic of Cyprus, The Falkland Islands, The Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Zimbabwe) you will be allowed to drive on that licence for 1 year, but after that you must exchange it for a UK licence. Further information about exchanging licences.
In order to demonstrate that your driving standards are acceptable you will also have to pass a practical driving test with one of the council’s approved test providers. You will need to arrange and pay for this test. Existing drivers may also be required to take this test where concerns are raised about the standard of their driving. In these circumstances drivers will usually be expected to take and pass the test within three months of the date of the request. A list of test providers can be found here.
Before you can drive a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) you will also need to have successfully passed a council approved course specifically designed for this type of vehicle in addition to undertaking the mandatory disability awareness training.
You have to be at least 21 years old to apply for a taxi or private hire driver licence.
3.4 Health / Medical Certificate
Anyone applying for a new or renewal driver licence will have to provide a Council issued medical certificate which has been completed and signed by the applicant’s registered medical practice/practitioner and issued within the previous three months. You can also provide a PSV/HGV Group II medical certificate that has been completed by your own registered medical practice within the previous three months. Alternatively, this can be completed by a doctor who has access to your full medical records and is registered with the General Medical Council, with the prior agreement of Buckinghamshire Council. If you are applying for a new licence you are advised to arrange this appointment after you have successfully completed all of the other parts of the application process. The Council has adopted the Group II requirements of the DVLA driver medical standards and you will need to demonstrate that you can comply with this standard. You are responsible for paying any fees required for any medical examination.
If you are aged 65 or over you will need to provide an approved medical certificate every year. Drivers under the age of 65 will have to provide this when they renew their licence. Drivers with certain medical conditions (for example diabetes) may also be required to provide annual medical certificates and / or information from specialist services. The council shall carry out an Equality Impact Assessment pursuant to the Equalities Act and each case will be assessed on its merits.
If there are concerns about your health at any time when you hold a licence, you may need to have additional medical checks carried out and if these are not carried out or indicate that you are not fit to drive, your licence may be suspended or revoked as a result. The council views the use of illegal drugs as completely incompatible with being fit and proper to hold a licence to drive members of the public.
The council may require applicants or drivers to be tested for the unlawful use of drugs where there are concerns. You may have to pay for this test if you have any criminal record for the use of drugs.
3.5 Criminal Records and Complaints
The council will not generally grant a licence to anyone who does not meet the minimum standards set out in our Criminal Records and Acceptable Behaviour Policy (Appendix 4). To determine this you will need to provide an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). You will also need to subscribe to the DBS Update Service and maintain your subscription for the whole time that you are licensed.
In line with the Statutory Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Standards, checks will be carried out with the DBS Update Service as a minimum every six months.
Holders of manually issued enhanced DBS certificates who are unable to subscribe to the update service are required to provide a new certificate enhanced DBS certificate every 6 months.
If you have been absent from the United Kingdom for a continuous period of three months or more since you were 18 years old, you will also need to provide a certificate of good conduct from any country or countries where you have lived in addition to the Certificate from the DBS.
If a DBS Certificate reveals several minor offences, the council will take into consideration any pattern of offending. The council can also take into consideration spent convictions, cautions and other relevant information when determining an application for a driver’s licence. If you already hold a taxi or private hire driver licence, we will consider the type and number of any breaches of conditions, offences or complaints when deciding what action, if any, we need to take.
Your licence may be revoked with immediate effect pending the outcome of any investigation or trial if you have been convicted of, arrested or charged with a serious offence. Serious offences can include but are not limited to:
- Driving or being in charge of a vehicle whilst under the influence of drink or drugs
- A drug related offence
- Any offence involving children
- An offence of a sexual nature
- An offence involving violence
- An offence involving dishonesty
- Any conviction for or fixed penalty notice issued under immigration legislation
Your licence may also be revoked with immediate effect where information received raises serious concerns about your fitness, regardless of whether criminal charges are brought.
You would not usually be granted a licence if you are under investigation for a serious offence when you make your application.
We will not provide the details of any complainant unless they have provided written permission for their details to be shared.
If we revoke your licence for persistent breaches of licence conditions, we will not usually grant another licence to you for at least 3 to 5 years.
To ensure that any pattern of behaviour is identified, and in line with the Statutory Standards, complaints or warnings will usually be held on file during any licence or application period and can also be taken into consideration if there is a period when the licence holder is not licensed.
You must notify us within 48 hours in writing if you are arrested, charged, cautioned or convicted of any offence (including motoring offences) during the period of any licence or if you have submitted an application.
Convictions includes matters that on the balance of probability amount to criminal behaviour but which have not resulted in a conviction, this may include Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs), cautions and community resolutions
If you are given a fixed penalty notice you need to notify us in writing when you accept it rather than when your DVLA driving licence has been updated. You (or someone on your behalf) must also notify us in writing within 48 hours if you have been detained by the police.
3.6 Knowledge test
New applicants will need to pass a supervised knowledge test in English. The knowledge test includes questions about the conditions of the licence, the laws relating to the licence, geographical knowledge of the area, customer care and disability awareness. Further information about the test is available from the Licensing Service.
3.7 English Language Test
All licensed taxi and private hire drivers are expected to be able to speak, understand and read English, so that they can communicate freely and clearly with passengers and officials, including in stressful and emergency situations. You will also need to be able to follow instructions or directions from passengers and be able to identify and report situations where there may be safeguarding concerns about a passenger.
As a result, and in line with the Statutory Standards, you are required to undertake an assessment of your communication skills (for which an additional fee will be payable) unless you can provide evidence that you have previously completed an English-language qualification at an acceptable level.
Existing drivers who have not previously taken this assessment will be required to take and pass it. From 12 months after the date of the implementation of this policy, if you have not passed the assessment criteria the council is unlikely to renew your licence until you have done so.
3.8 Child Sexual Exploitation Training
The council is committed to safeguarding the needs of children and vulnerable groups so it is important that all licensed drivers are properly trained to help them promote the welfare of children and vulnerable groups within the area. As part of the application process you will be required to complete a training course covering these issues in English. Further details about this training is available here.
Existing drivers will also be required to do refresher training covering relevant safeguarding issues every 3 years.
3.9 Other Agency Checks
We may need to carry out other checks which may include contacting the licensing authority where you have previously lived or held a licence. Checks may also be carried out using fraud prevention and application verification technology.
3.10 Renewal of Licences
It is your responsibility to ensure that your licence is renewed before it expires. The council will not accept a renewal application after your licence has expired and you will be required to submit an application for a new licence.
If you submit a new application in these circumstances within three months of the expiry of your previous licence you will not, however, be required to undertake the knowledge test, practical driving test, English language or child sexual exploitation training (unless you are due to take refresher training).
Under no circumstances will renewal (or new) licences be issued without full and satisfactory checks having first been carried out, including medical and Disclosure and Barring Service checks.
3.11 Change of Type of Licence
If you want to change from holding a private hire licence to a joint hackney carriage and private hire driver licence, you will be required to undertake any additional relevant tests in addition to any other routine checks such as medical or DBS checks. If you want to change from a joint licence to a private hire only licence, you will not need to carry out any further checks other than those required as a matter of routine.
In either of the above circumstances, the normal fee will be required on application and no refund will be payable in respect of any existing licence.
3.12 Right of appeal
If we are considering refusing your application or suspending or revoking your licence you will usually be invited to attend a meeting with an officer of the council to discuss our concerns and to give you the opportunity to respond. If you do not want to attend a meeting you will be given the opportunity to provide your comments in writing. The final decision about what will happen with your licence will then be made by a senior member of staff in line with our decision making process which is set out at section 6.
If your licence is suspended or revoked or your application is refused you have the right to appeal to a Magistrates Court and you must do this within 21 days from the date on which the letter confirming the council’s decision is served on you.
If there are serious concerns about public safety, the decision may also be made to revoke or suspend a driver licence with immediate effect which means that the driver will not be able to work or drive a licensed vehicle until any appeal has been concluded. This power would generally only ever be used where there are allegations of serious violence offences, driving or being in charge of a vehicle whilst under the influence of drink or drugs, drug related offence(s), offences of a sexual nature, the driver has been banned from driving or where there is considered to be a serious risk to passengers or members of the public in allowing the driver to continue as a hackney carriage and / or private hire driver.