Final stage for minicab licensing begins

10 February 2004

From early June 2004 private hire vehicles will have to meet strict safety standards to trade legally by either holding a license or a temporary permit from the Public Carriage Office (PCO). The regulations for the vehicle licensing will be considered by the TfL board on 11th February and vehicle checks will start in April.

All 40,000 vehicles in the capital will be inspected annually by a contractor working for TfL's Public Carriage Office (PCO).

Mayor Ken Livingstone said:

"Minicab passengers deserve to travel in safe, roadworthy and clean cars which cannot be confused with black cabs. These new strict standards will improve the quality of service for passengers and make minicabs in London a more respectable business. By April 2005, all existing private hire vehicles will be licensed.

"This final stage follows the successful licensing of some 2300 private hire operators and the start of licensing for 43,000 drivers."

Licensed Private Hire Car Association Chairman Steve Wright said:

"Vehicle Licensing brings the private hire industry much closer to completing the task of delivering a fully regulated minicab and chauffeur industry in London.

"The introduction of private hire vehicles licensed by TfL will improve
safety and give the travelling public the ability to book a private hire
vehicle with the same confidence as they would a licensed taxi.

"Now that it will be a requirement for all licensed private hire vehicles to have an identity disc in windscreens, illegal touts will be easier to
isolate and prosecute.

"The LPHCA welcomes the new TfL regulations as good news for Londoners."

The checks will be similar to those carried out traditionally for black cabs. Examiners will be ensuring that the vehicles are comfortable and fit for use by looking for working doors and windows; seatbelts for all passengers, adequate bootspace, cleanliness and comfortable seating. In addition the new standards include:

  • A distinctive new disc fixed to front and rear windscreens to identify the vehicle as a licensed private hire vehicle. No other signage will be allowed;
  • The owner must produce a valid MOT certificate which must be no older than 14 days before the inspection by the Public Carriage Office (PCO);
  • A mid-year MoT will be required ensuring that safety checks are carried out every six months on all licensed private hire vehicles; and
  • The owner must produce valid insurance for the vehicle and it must be registered with the DVLA.

From 5th March 2004 the PCO will be able to issue temporary permits for private hire vehicle owners, currently 37,000 vehicles have registered for a temporary permit. Vehicle inspections can take place from early April 2004 at four centres in the capital (at Croydon, Woolwich, Hanworth and Enfield) run by SGS on behalf of the PCO.

  1. Since 2001 minicab operators must hold a valid licence from the Public Carriage Office to run a service. Since 1st June 2003 it has been an offence to drive a minicab without a private hire driving licence or a temporary permit issued by the PCO.
  2. A licensed private hire vehicle must:
    • Have an identification disc fixed to the top inside of the front windscreen on the passenger side. This will include the registration mark of the vehicle, the maximum number of passengers the vehicle can carry, the London PHV licence number, a statement the licence has been issued by the Public Carriage office and the expiry of the licence;
    • Be subject to a payment of £75 application fee and also a fee of £25 made payable for the grant of the licence;
    • Have a registered licence or a temporary permit;
    • No signs or advertising displayed on a private hire vehicle except; badges or emblems on the radiator or windscreen which are issued by an organisation i.e. RAC or AA badges;
    • Be a light vehicle as defined by section 85 of the road traffic act;
    • Hold passed test certificates that must have been only no younger than 14 days old and no older than 12 months;
    • Have a right hand drive; and
    • If has wheelchair lifting equipment it is complaint with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations Act.
  3. Private Hire owners without a license or temporary permit for their vehicle can be taken to court and fined up to £2500 from early June 2004.

For media enquiries contact the TfL press office on 020 7941 4141/4881.