What is a Private Hire Operator's Licence?
Private hire operator's licences are required by individuals or firms taking bookings for the hire of private hire vehicles. The law requires that an operator must be licensed by the same authority which licenses the private hire vehicles and private hire drivers working within their control. Section 56(1) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 makes it clear that bookings for the services of licensed vehicles are the responsibility of the licensed operator which accepted the booking, even if they are sub-contracted to another operator; the legislation requires that the operator to whom the booking is passed must always be licensed by the same licensing authority.
Private hire vehicles may only be pre-booked, and may not be hailed in the street or stand and ply for hire. Fares for the hire of private hire vehicles are not regulated by the city council, and must be the subject of agreement between passenger and driver before a journey commences. Such vehicles may only be driven by the holder of a private hire driver's licence issued by the city council.
The licence conditions require the front doors of licensed private hire vehicles to to be clearly marked with a sign indicating that the vehicle is licensed and bearing the name and telephone number of the operator. The vehicle also has a white and blue licence plate on the rear, the details of which are reproduced on a sticker in the windscreen. No Southampton licensed private hire vehicle may have a roof sign of any description and must be of a colour other than white.
How do I apply for a licence?
An application form can be found below, in both MS Word and PDF formats. You are strongly advised to seek the advice of the licensing team before completing the application form.
A form for notification of the change of address of an existing licence holder can also be found below - please note that the operator's licence cannot be transferred to a different licence holder; a new application must be made if the operating address changes.
Copies of the private hire operator policy and conditions and the 1970 byelaw for hackney carriages and motor vehicles let for hire are available below.