Hackney carriages, often referred to as taxis, may be hired as follows:

  • Hailed in the street
  • From a taxi rank
  • By pre-booking

The maximum fares for journeys within the city are regulated by the city council. Southampton's licence conditions require such vehicles to be predominantly white in colour. They can only ever be driven by the holder of a hackney carriage driver's licence from the city council, whether or not the vehicles are available for hire.

The licence conditions require that hackney carriages have either an integral "taxi" roof sign (purpose built vehicles) or a full width "taxi" roof sign. The vehicle also has a red and white licence plate on the rear of the vehicle, the details of which are reproduced on a sticker in the windscreen.

Copies of the hackney carriage policy and conditions and the 1970 bye-law for hackney carriages and motor vehicles let for hire are available below.

Clean air compliance

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

Hackney carriage applications

Application forms, including dock permits and guidance for change of vehicle on an existing licence and notification of the change of address of an existing licence holder. You are strongly advised to seek the advice of the licensing team before purchasing any vehicle to be licensed as a hackney carriage.

Please note that the Licensing Committee has determined 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 may claim back the net cost of camera installations against tax over one year.

The council has adopted The Institute of Licensing Guidance on determining the suitability of applicants and licences in the hackney and private hire trades as policy with the exception of para 4.42 will replaced by:

A minor traffic or vehicle related offence is one which does not involve loss of life, driving under the influence of drink or drugs, driving whilst using a mobile phone, and has not resulted in injury to any person or damage to any property (including vehicles). Where an applicant has nine or more points on their DVLA licence for minor traffic or similar offences the applicant will be required to undertake driver assessment training as approved by the council. Where an applicant has or reaches 12 points on their DVLA licence for minor traffic or similar offences a licence will not be granted until the applicant/licence holder is conviction free for at least one year and at least three months after the end of any driving ban imposed by the courts and after passing an approved driver assessment.

This will apply this to applicants for all taxi and private hire licences.

Docks permits

Associated British Ports reached agreement in March 2009 for Southampton City Council's licensing team to issue permits allowing Southampton licensed hackney carriages access to ABP's docks land with effect from 1 April 2009. The agreement with ABP is for renewable five year periods. There is an application form. All payments should be made to Southampton City Council via the licensing office at the Civic Centre. Please note that no Southampton licensed hackney carriage can stand or ply for hire on ABP docks land (including Town Quay) without such a permit.

Temporary Vehicles

For our Policy document and application form for a temporary vehicle.

Itchen Bridge concessions

Proprietors or drivers of hackney carriages/private hire vehicles with a height at first axle of over 1.33 metres may apply for a SmartCities payment card which offers a reduced rate or these vehicles.

Quantity Control

The Licensing Committee considered an independent survey on the demand for the services of licensed hackney carriages in the city at its meeting on 5 December 2018 and, having been made aware of government guidance and the body of case law, determined that there was no significant unmet demand for the services of additional licensed hackney carriages in the city. The policy is reviewed every three years.

A total of 283 hackney carriages are licensed by Southampton City Council.

For further information, please see the taxi and private hire notice board.