Vehicle licensing

Hackney Carriage FAQ's

Can I get a new licence for a hackney carriage?

There is a limit on the number of hackney carriage licences issued by the Council.  This limit has been reached and therefore no new hackney carriage licences are currently being issued.  If you want to obtain a hackney carriage licence the only way to do this is to buy a vehicle that is already licensed.  Licensed hackney carriages reaching the end of their life can be replaced with a newer vehicle provided the new vehicle meets the Council’s requirements.

How long is a licence issued for?

Licences are issued for one year or less if the vehicle MOT expires before.

How much does a licence cost?

Details of the costs of a new licence can be found on our Vehicle Licensing page.
Details of the costs for renewing a licence can be found on our Vehicle Licence Renewals page.
You can pay for your licence by credit card or debit card when you attend for your vehicle licensing appointment.

How old can a car be when it is licensed?

Cars can be licensed as hackney carriages for the first time providing they are no more than seven years old according to the year in which the car was first registered with the DVLA.  For example a vehicle registered in 2011 would be eligible for first licensing anytime up to the end of 2018, but not after the end of 2018.  A car registered in 2013 could be licensed for the first time up until the end of 2020.  Once licensed a hackney carriage can have its licence renewed providing it remains in good condition and continues to pass the required MOT test and Council vehicle inspection, there is no overall age limit.

What sort of vehicle can be licensed as a hackney carriage?

Saloon cars, hatchbacks, estates or people carriers can be licensed providing they have four doors and can carry a folding wheelchair.  Purpose-built London style hackney carriages and vehicles converted so as to be able to carry a passenger sitting in a wheelchair (with appropriate approval certificate) are also able to be licensed.  Stretched limousines are not permitted to be licensed as hackney carriages. 

How many passengers can a hackney carriage be licensed to carry?

The maximum number of passengers that a hackney carriage can be licensed to carry is 8.  The vehicle log book will specify the total number of persons that the vehicle can carry, the licence will be issued for this number minus the driver, to a maximum of 8.

Can I licence a left hand drive vehicle?

No, left hand drive vehicles are not permitted to be licensed on safety grounds.

How do I make an appointment to renew my hackney carriage vehicle licence?

You can book an appointment on our Vehicle Licensing and Vehicle Licence Renewals pages. Please ensure you have read and understood the relevant sections of the website regarding licensing a vehicle prior to making an appointment.

How long will an appointment to licence a hackney carriage vehicle take?

Appointments take around an hour.  It’s important that you arrive promptly for your appointment, if you are late we may not be able to see you.  If you are 10 minutes or more late your appointment will be automatically cancelled and you will need to rebook online.

What documents/notices/equipment do I need to bring to my appointment to licence my hackney carriage hire vehicle?

  • You must bring your current vehicle insurance policy that names the licensed driver who is insured to drive the vehicle.  The insurance certificate must detail that the vehicle is insured for public hire.
  • MOT certificate issued within the last 30 days if the car is over a year old.
  • The DVLA vehicle registration document.  If you have recently bought the vehicle and don’t have the registration document you should bring the new keepers supplement and provide the registration document when you receive it from the DVLA.
  • Your vehicle must be taxed, officers will check the tax status of your car during the appointment.
  • A supply of pre-printed receipts that can be given to customers at the conclusion of journeys where the date, the fare and the drivers badge number can be added.
  • A taxi meter must be fitted to the vehicle and be visible to customers.  A meter calibration certificate must be provided (when the vehicle is first presented for licensing).
  • No Smoking signs must be displayed on at least one near-side (passenger-side) and one off-side (driver-side) window to be clearly visible to passengers before entering your vehicle.
  • A first aid kit suitable for use in vehicles, with the registration number of the vehicle permanently marked on it.
  • A 1kg (2.2lb) dry powder fire extinguisher must be provided, with the registration number of the vehicle permanently marked on it.
  • A bracket to mount the vehicle licence plate must be permanently fitted to the rear of the vehicle in advance of your appointment.  It must be able to be clearly seen and must not obstruct the number plate or lights of the vehicle.  If the vehicle is being licensed for the first time and a new mounting bracket is required one should be collected from the Council Depot at Wiggenhall Road during our drop in sessions, between 9am-10am or 3.30pm-4.30pm.
  • Door signs positioned in the centre of each of the front doors of the vehicle.  Approved door signs, either magnetic or adhesive can be obtained from the licensing team at the time of your appointment.  There is a cost to purchase these signs, details of which can be found on our Vehicle Licensing page.
  • Roof sign, either integral or if not integral with the word TAXI in black writing on a white background on the front and FOR HIRE in black writing on a red background on the reverse.  The roof signs must be capable of being lit and must cease to be lit when the taximeter is in operation.  The roof sign must be in good working order.  Vehicles capable of carrying passengers in a wheelchair must incorporate a sign into the roof sign indicating their purpose.

What condition must my car be in for a licence to be issued?

  • Your car must be clean and in generally good condition.
  • It must have a mounting bracket for the licence plate to be fitted into permanently affixed to rear of the vehicle where it can be clearly seen and is not obstructing the number plate or lights. 
  • Paintwork should be bright and well matched, vehicles with dull or mismatched paintwork won’t be licensed. 
  • Vehicles should be generally free from rust, areas of rust or blemishes larger than 10mmx10mm will result in the vehicle not being able to be licensed.
  • Dents over 40mm in diameter and over 2mm deep or scratches over 300mm long  aren’t acceptable.
  • Poor or unsatisfactory repairs or modifications aren’t acceptable.
  • The vehicle interior, including the boot, should be clean, not excessively worn and odour free.
  • Only equipment or tools that relate to the maintenance of the vehicle should be stored in the boot and should be securely stowed.  Oil or petrol cans shall not be carried in any part of the vehicle.  You must ensure you have appropriate equipment and/or tools to change or repair a punctured tyre. 

Do I need to be able to provide receipts to customers?

Yes.  You must offer and be able to provide for each journey undertaken pre-printed receipts to customers where you can add the date, the fare and the drivers badge number.

Does my hackney carriage need to be fitted with a meter to calculate the fare for each journey?

Yes, a meter must be fitted in your vehicle.  The (maximum) fares you charge are set by the Council and your meter must be pre-programmed with these fares and a meter calibration certificate provided when your vehicle is first licensed.  The meter must be visible to the passenger so that they can see the fare displayed.

Does my hackney carriage need to have a roof sign?

Yes, hackney carriages must be fitted with a roof sign.  This sign must either be an integral sign on a purpose built hackney carriage or a white sign, with the words ‘Taxi’ in black writing on the front and ‘For Hire’ in black writing on a red background on the reverse.  The roof sign must be able to be illuminated when the vehicle is for hire and must case to be illuminated when the taximeter is in use.

Does my hackney carriage have to have door signs displayed?

Yes, signs must be positioned in the centre of each of the front doors of the vehicle.  When you present your vehicle for licensing you will be able to purchase door signs of an approved design from the Council.  These signs can be either adhesive vinyl signs or magnetic signs.  If you choose to have magnetic signs they must be affixed to the vehicle whenever it is being used for hackney carriage purposes.  There is a cost associated with the purchase of these signs, details of which can be found on our Vehicle Licensing page.

Can I display advertising on my hackney carriage?

Advertising can only be displayed on a hackney carriage with the written permission of the Council.  If you wish to seek permission for advertising you should e-mail details of your proposals to the licensing team at licensing@watford.gov.uk.

Do I need a spare wheel?

You must ensure you have appropriate equipment and/or tools to change or repair a punctured tyre.  These tools/equipment must be in good condition and must be securely stowed in the vehicle.  Equipment or tools will be a spare wheel, a space saver wheel or a canister which fills the damaged type in order to affect a temporary repair to allow it to be driven to a garage for repair.

Is smoking allowed in a hackney carriage?

Smoking is never permitted in a licensed vehicle.  Even when the vehicle is not being used as a hackney carriage and no passengers are present smoking is not permitted.  No smoking signs must be displayed on at least one near-side (passenger-side) and one off-side (driver-side) window to be clearly visible to passengers before entering your vehicle.

Are PDAs & Sat Navs allowed in hackney carriages?

Yes, but the position of them must be approved by the Council and should not obstruct driver or passenger movement, comfort or vision.

I have lost/had stolen my vehicle licence plate, what do I need to do?

If a licence plate and/or mounting bracket is lost, stolen or damaged you should advise the licensing team as soon as is reasonably practicable by e-mail to licensing@watford.gov.uk. Stolen plates should be reported to the police.  Upon receipt of an e-mail a member of the licensing team will make contact with you to arrange to provide you with a replacement.  There is a charge for replacement mounting brackets and plates, details of which can be found on our Vehicle Licensing page.

I have been involved in an accident in my vehicle, what do I need to do?

You must report any accident within 72 hours via our online form

I have moved house/changed address, what do I need to do?

You should tell us about your change of address as soon as is reasonably practicable via our online form. Please note that there is a charge for processing a request to change your address.

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