Taxi and private hire licensing

From 1 January 2020, we're making additions to the taxi licensing conditions. Find out how these will affect you.

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 10 October 1986 with effect from 1 January 1987.

Remember: 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.

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.

More information about:

Making a complaint against a taxi or private hire vehicle

You can make a complaint about a hackney carriage (taxi), private hire vehicle, driver or operator licensed by the city council by downloading a taxi or private hire complaint form.

Remember: 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.

Wheelchair accessibility

Please see the list of the city's licensed hackney carriages and private hire vehicles which are wheelchair accessible - this includes contact details for the proprietor or operator of each vehicle, where this information has been made available.

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

The 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.

Public Registers

Details of licences granted for hackney carriages, hackney carriage drivers, private hire vehicles, private hire drivers and private hire operators are available through Public Access - there is also an extract of the register of hackney carriage and private hire drivers.

Lost property

If this was in a hackney carriage or taxi, you should check with the police as the driver is required to hand in lost property.

If this was in a private hire vehicle, you should check with the company/operator they are run by, as the driver is to hand any items to them. They should then be able to identify lost property using details from your booking, to see which drivers did which jobs.