Hackney carriage and private hire licensing

Vehicles used for hire and reward with up to eight passenger seats must be licensed by a local authority as either a hackney carriage or a private hire vehicle.

Before a vehicle is licensed it must be:

  • of an approved type
  • pass a vehicle safety test
  • be appropriately insured

Vehicles under 4 years are tested annually. Vehicles over 4 years are tested annually and have an interim test approximately 6 months into the licence.

The cost of vehicle testing is included in the licence fee but an additional fee will be charged for any re-test or missed test (including any test you cancel without giving at least 48 hours notice).

We currently limit the number of hackney carriage licences we issue and because of this a new application for a licence is likely to be refused if this limit has been met. If the limit has not been met and hackney carriage licences are available, they will only be available for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. There is no limit on the number of private hire vehicle licences we can issue.

Sometimes, an application may be put before the Regulation and review committee for a decision to grant a licence. If this happens you will be given written notice and invited to attend committee to speak if you want to.

If a vehicle licence is surrendered, we will refund one quarter of the licence fee for each complete 3 month period remaining, minus the vehicle test fees. If we revoke or suspend a licence for any reason we will not make a refund.

There are two parts to the application - the vehicle specification and application form.

Emission/Age standards

As part of the need to promote environmental sustainability and reducing pollution caused by road vehicles, this Policy introduces common requirements for emissions from hackney carriages and private hire vehicles. The age standards set out below aim to assist in meeting the need to improve air quality in the Borough and the wider region.

The following age standards will be implemented over a four year period:

(i) From 1 April 2024 no new vehicle licence will be granted for the vehicle unless it is less than 4 years old
(ii) From 1 April 2026 a vehicle licence will not be renewed unless the vehicle is less than 8 years old
(iii) From 1 April 2027 a wheelchair accessible vehicle licence will not be renewed unless the vehicle is less than 8 years old.

All ‘Full electric’ and ‘zero emission at source’ vehicles will be exempt from the age standards set out above.
If any application is refused due to a vehicle failing to meet the age standard the licensee/applicant can appeal to Regulation and Review Committee against the decision to refuse to grant a licence or to the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court as appropriate.

Part 1: Vehicle specification

This is split into four parts:

  • the first part is a general specification that applies to all vehicles
  • the second, third and fourth sections apply to private hire vehicles, hackney carriages and wheelchair-accessible hackney carriages respectively

This means that you are limited to a choice of vehicle that we can license.

If you are unsure if a vehicle is suitable to be licensed, please contact us before making an application or committing to buy a vehicle.

Part 2: Application form

This must be completed in full and submitted with:

  • the appropriate fee
  • proof of ownership of the vehicle
  • a certificate of motor insurance
  • Current (dated within 1 month) Basic DBS Certificate for all applicants (Does not apply to holders of a current Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver’s Licence issued by this Authority)

You can make an appointment for a vehicle inspection in advance, but the application form, supporting documentation and licence fee must be submitted to the licensing office at least two days before the test date. If you don't, your test appointment may be cancelled and the test fee forfeited.

Along with your application and fee you must provide:

  • the vehicle registration document in your name, or proof of purchase identifying you as the purchaser
  • a valid certificate of motor insurance which covers public or private hire (whichever is appropriate)

When you have applied and paid your fee we will inspect your vehicle at our testing station in Killingworth. If the vehicle passes the test and all other documentation is in order then we will issue:

  • a licence plate
  • a windscreen disc
  • door decals

Related documents

Vehicle testing

We inspect vehicles at our test station at the Killingworth site.

Related documents

Guidance notes and general vehicle specifications. List of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles designated under Section 165 Equality Act 2010

Private Hire Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles should be booked through the Operator.  A full list of Operators is available on the Operator page of the Council website.

Related documents

Accident damage

If your vehicle is involved in an accident you must notify us within 72 hours - complete and return the notification of damage form.

We will then examine the vehicle to make sure it is still usable as a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle. Generally, if a vehicle only has minor damage it can still be used, but only if the safety and comfort of passengers is not compromised.

If a vehicle has serious damage and is not fit to be used for hire and reward purposes, the licence will be suspended. The vehicle must not be used as a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle until it has been repaired, we have have re-examined it and then lifted the suspension.

Related documents

Contact taxi licensing