Private hire drivers' licences

Anyone who drives a licensed private hire vehicle must hold a licence to do so from the city council, in every circumstance. This is because the vehicle remains licensed whether or not it is hired or available for hire.

Private hire vehicles may only be pre-booked, and may not be hailed in the street or stand and ply for hire. 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.

Apply for a private hire driver's licence

Application forms and supporting documents must be submitted by the applicant online, where the forms for disclosure of any criminal record and a check of your driving history with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency will be completed. In order to undertake this part of the process you must be able to conclusively prove your identity to our satisfaction. We will not expect your medical certificate to be more than four months old at the date of grant of any licence.

All prospective applicants for hackney carriage drivers’ licences must satisfy the city council, as licensing authority, that they are fit and proper persons to hold such a licence. The council’s policy requires that all applicants: 

  • Are aged over 21
  • Have held full licence for at least two years
  • Pass an approved driving assessment
  • Complete an approved safeguarding course
  • Fully complete the private hire driver's licence application form
  • Pass the council’s test of their knowledge of the topography of the city and the responsibilities of a licensed driver
  • Provide a medical report from the applicant’s own medical practitioner or a provider approved by the council, certifying that they are fit to a Group 2 standard in accordance with the current DVLA medical standards of fitness to drive
  • Consent to an enhanced criminal record disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service and sign up to the DBS update service
  • Consent to a driving history check from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency with us using Davis Licence Check
  • Complete a National Vocational Qualification in Road Passenger Transport (or equivalent) (BTEC) qualification within six months of a licence being issued

Please note that you must complete a driving skills assessment within the previous six months of submitting an application and submit the certificate with your application form. If you do not actively pursue your application for six months or more, we will treat it as having been withdrawn. You will need to start again if you later wish to become a licensed driver.

It is also the policy of the city council that all licensed drivers obtain a BTech qualification in transporting passengers by taxi and private hire vehicle within six months of the grant of their licence.

Exceptionally, in the case of applicants for a restricted licence to drive specialist private hire vehicles, it may not be necessary for the applicant to complete the topography test.

Criminal Records

The licensing team has a responsibility to ensure that licensed drivers are fit and proper persons to hold such licences, given the circumstances of their employment. In order to assist in making such decisions, a check is made with the Disclosure and Barring Service before a licence application is determined, and thereafter every six months. Applicants are required to subscribe to the DBS update service and remain subscribed whilst they remain licensed. DBS currently estimates checks will take around eight weeks to complete. Find details of how to obtain a DBS.

Tax Checks

From 4 April 2022 all renewing drivers and operators will have to undergo a tax check with the HMRC. Further guidance can be found here:

Data Protection

Please note that the licensing authority may be required by law to disclose to the appropriate authorities, from time to time, further information relating to applications and licences for the purposes of law enforcement and the prevention of fraud.