Minicab legal issues

Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance and are not allowed to ply for hire or work off a taxi rank.

Legislation provides for private hire drivers, vehicles and operators to be licensed. Depending on your location, contact Transport for London (TfL), your local taxi licensing authority, or the Passenger Transport Licensing Division (PLTD) of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in Northern Ireland. They will be able to give you guidance as to the conditions you and the vehicle must meet in order to obtain a licence. You must accept bookings for assistance dogs that accompany disabled passengers and you must not make a charge for carrying the dog.

What licences does a minicab business need?

Legislation provides for the licensing of private hire vehicles, drivers and operators. If you're planning to operate as a 'one man band' you'll need all three licences if you use your own vehicle. Your local licensing authority - or the Passenger Transport Licensing Division of the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in Northern Ireland - will give you details of what is involved. If you are providing a bookings service, or hiring out your vehicle to others, you must make sure that all the drivers hold the appropriate licences. There is a charge for each of these licences, which varies around the country.

You must make sure that you have paid the appropriate vehicle excise duty (road tax) for your cab.

Radio operators must obtain a radio licence, for which there is an annual fee. The licence covers both the base and the mobile units and is issued by OFCOM. You can apply for a business radio licence on the OFCOM website.

If you install CCTV equipment in your vehicle you should make sure you comply with the Data Protection Act. Contact the Information Commissioner's Office for details.

Smoking bans

Don't forget that UK-wide smoking bans also apply in private hire vehicles - you will have to display a no-smoking sign in your vehicle.

Equality Act

Your local authority can keep a list of wheelchair-accessible taxi and private hire vehicles ("designated vehicles") in their area. Drivers of taxi and private hire vehicles listed by the local licensing authority as being wheelchair accessible can be fined up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or try to charge them extra. They are now required by law to:

  • transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users

You can get an exemption from this if you yourself have a medical condition that would make it difficult to offer physical assistance. Contact your licensing authority for help. You can find out more on the Gov.uk website.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a minicab business

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • premises, premises contents
  • employers liability (if you employ staff)
  • public liability

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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