What are Private Hire Vehicles?
Private hire vehicles may only be pre-booked, and may not be hailed in the street or stand or ply for hire in any circumstances. Their fares are not regulated by the city council, and must be the subject of agreement between passenger and driver before a journey commences.
Southampton's licence conditions require such vehicles to be a colour other than white. They may only be driven by the holder of a private hire driver's licence issued by the city council, regardless of whether or not the vehicle is hired or available for hire.
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.
Unlike hackney carriages (taxis), the law does not permit any controls on the numbers of private hire vehicles. More than 550 private hire vehicles are licensed by the city council. Minimum standards for the quality of such vehicles are controlled by licence conditions (see below). For further information, please see the taxi and private hire notice board.
How do I apply for a licence?
Application forms for a new licence, change of vehicle on an existing licence and for notification of the change of address of an existing licence holder, together with the policy and conditions for such licences, can be found below. You are strongly advised to seek the advice of the licensing team before purchasing any vehicle to be licensed for private hire. Please note that as a matter of law, licences are granted for a period of up to 12 months, and the earliest plate number available will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Please note that the Licensing Committee determined on 26th August 2009 that, as a matter of policy, vehicles must be fitted with a digital taxi cameras to the satisfaction of the council. This requirement will be effective immediately on the grant of a new licence (other than by way of renewal) or on the replacement of a licensed vehicle. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs has confirmed that vehicle proprietors can claim the net cost of camera installations against tax over one year. Please also see the vehicle application guidance below for details of the requirements for new and replacement licensed vehicles, including information about the required taxi cameras.
Copies of the private hire vehicle policy and conditions and the 1970 byelaw for hackney carriages and motor vehicles let for hire are available below.
Information Rights Tribunal
Please note that, following the judgment of the Information Rights Tribunal, issued on 20th February 2013 on an appeal against a Notice from the Information Commissioner, the requirement for the installation of camera systems in taxis and private hire vehicles has been temporarily suspended, pending the Licensing Committee's review of licence policy and conditions. The judgment is solely in respect of the continuous audio recording facility and has no effect on video recording in vehicles. Please see the taxi notice board for further information.