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 and to be fitted with an approved taxi camera that will permanently record visual images whilst the vehicle is in use, regardless of the purpose the vehicle is being used for at the time and audio data for a period of 5 minutes when activated by the driver. 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.

Clean air compliance

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

Apply for a licence

Application forms and guidance 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. 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.

The licence conditions require the front doors of licensed private hire vehicles to to be clearly marked with an adhesive sign indicating that the vehicle is licensed and bearing the name and telephone number of the operator. Magnetic signs are not acceptable. 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. A Southampton licensed private hire vehicle may never be driven by anyone who does not hold a Southampton private hire driver's licence, whether or not the vehicle is being used for a licensable activity.

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.

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

Unlike hackney carriages (taxis), the law does not permit any controls on the numbers of private hire vehicles. More than 900 private hire vehicles are licensed by the city council. Minimum standards for the quality of such vehicles are controlled by licence conditions.

For further information, please see the private hire policy and conditions.

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 - further information appears below. 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 for details of the requirements for new and replacement licensed vehicles.

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.