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You are here:home > Business > Licensing > Taxis and private hire

Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing

These pages provide general information about the taxi and private hire licensing functions and related issues.

Please note that the city council does not employ individual drivers, proprietors or operators; many work together on radio circuits, others work individually. If you wish to book a taxi or private hire vehicle, you should contact a licensed operator direct.

The city council's role is to regulate their businesses in accordance with a complex body of law dating back to the first half of the 19th century. Hackney carriages and their drivers are licensed under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. Private hire vehicles, drivers and operators are licensed under the 1976 Act, which was adopted by the council on 10th October 1986 with effect from 1st January 1987.

Types of licence

  • Hackney carriages, often referred to as taxis, may be hailed, hired from a taxi rank or pre-booked. Licensed vehicles have a roof sign and a distinctive red and white licence plate on the rear. Vehicles must be white in colour. Maximum fares for journeys within the city are regulated by the city council and a taximeter will be used.
  • Hackney carriage drivers may drive a Southampton licensed hackney carriage, and must wear and display their licence badge.
  • Private hire vehicles may only be pre-booked and are identified by signs on the side of vehicle which give details of their operator and licence number and a distinctive white and blue licence plate on the rear. Vehicles may not be white in colour. Fares are not regulated and should be agreed at the time of booking. A taximeter may be used, if one is available.
  • Private hire drivers may drive a Southampton licensed private hire vehicle and must wear and display their licence badge.
  • Private hire operator's licences are required by individuals or firms which take bookings for the hire of private hire vehicles.

How do I make an application?

The links on the left will take you to pages for each individual licence type, including a selection of application forms.


If you wish to complain about a hackney carriage (taxi), private hire vehicle, driver or operator licensed by the city council, please read the guidance document and use either of the forms in the related documents links at the bottom of this page. Please note that, if your complaint relates to a road traffic infringement, such as alleged "road rage", your complaint must be made to Hampshire Constabulary in the first instance.

Information for licensed proprietors, drivers and operators

Please follow the "notice board" link on the left of the page for news and important information for hackney carriage and private hire vehicle proprietors, drivers and operators, which is regularly updated.

Wheelchair accessibility

A number of the city's licensed hackney carriages and private hire vehicles are wheelchair accessible, and a list of these, including contact details, where available, can be found in the related documents links below.

Please note that this list is provided for information only, and that Southampton City Council cannot guarantee that individual proprietors or drivers will be able or willing to provide any particular taxi or private hire service.

The government's Department for Transport has announced that it intends to implement Part 5 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to require all hackney carriages to be wheelchair accessible with effect from a date to be set. These proposals are still being developed, and have been further delayed from the 2010 target date. When they are announced, will appear on the Department for Transport's web site - please see the link below.

Public Registers

Details of licences granted for hackney carriages, hackney carriage drivers, private hire vehicles, private hire drivers and private hire operators are available via the Online Licensing Register link above. And extract of the register in respect of hackney carriage and private hire drivers appears below.

Taxi Cameras

For the purpose of protecting both the public and drivers, a condition requiring an approved taxi camera to be fitted to hackney carriages and private hire vehicles was re-introduced in September 2013, following a short period of suspension.

The effect of this is that the majority of licensed vehicles are fitted with a taxi camera. The cameras continually record visual images and audio recording can be activated by the driver, when necessary, for a period of five minutes.

The images and audio cannot be monitored and relevant data will only be recovered when necessary - Southampton City Council is the data controller. Please see the taxi camera download policy for further details.

Cameras installed in vehicles must meet the taxi camera specification and be approved by the authority. In order to keep the system manageable, no more than four types of camera will be approved at any one time.

Taxi Fares

The city council regulates the fares charged for journeys in hackney carriages (taxis) within the city boundary.

Table of Fares

Copies of the maximum tables of fares with effect from 17 May 2013, 28 April 2014 and 27 May 2014 appear below.

Requests for variation of hackney carriage fares on behalf of "Southampton's Combined Taxi Trade" and resulting from Associated British Ports' charge for the use of marshalled ranks at Cruise Terminals were considered by Cabinet on 18 March 2014.

Notice of the proposals appeared on page 30 of the Hampshire Independent on 28 March 2014.

Following objections, the table of fares was varied with effect from 28 April 2014, principally in respect of a £1.00 charge for hirings commenced at a marshalled ABP cruise terminal. On 15 April 2014 Cabinet authorised further alterations to the table of fares, which were advertised in the Hampshire Independent on 9 May 2014. There being no objections, this came into effect on 27 May 2014.

It is important to note that fares charged for the hire of private hire vehicles cannot be regulated by the city council; in both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, passengers should always ensure that the basis of the fare has been agreed before the journey commences, especially if that journey goes beyond the city boundary.

Contacting the Licensing Team

If you need to contact us by email, 'phone or post, please do so using the details below.

Opening hourslink to interactive parking map

Members of the Licensing Team are normally available on weekdays at the Civic Centre, Southampton SO14 7LY from 09:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 16:00 to assist personal callers. We may be available at other times by prior appointment.

Downloadable documents

Icon Name of file Size Download time
PDF document Taxi complaint form - pdf 29 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
Word document Taxi complaint form - Word 295 KB 1secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Taxi complaints guidance 14 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Wheelchair Accessible Taxis 57 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Vehicle Application Guidance 34 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Taxi Camera Specification 56 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Taxi Camera download policy 50 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Fares 2014-05 77 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Fares 2014-04 52 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Fares 2013 319 KB 1secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers - Register 278 KB 1secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Hackney Carriage and Private Hire fees 20 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Byelaw 43 - Hackney Carriages and Motor Vehicles Let for Hire 1970 63 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
PDF document Licensing Enforcement Policy 67 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
Link to download Adobe Acrobat if required

Contact information