Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licenses

Any hackney carriages (taxis) or private hire vehicles (minicabs) that wish to operate in the Three Rivers District area must be licensed by us. Separate licences will be required for vehicles, drivers and operating companies.

  • Please be aware that it is very dangerous to get into an unlicensed vehicle for a journey that you pay for. You could not guarantee the safety of the vehicle or driver and the driver will not be insured in the event of an accident. If a private hire vehicle picks you up without a booking, they will also not be insured and are acting illegally.

The purpose of licensing is to ensure the safety of the public, by checking that the drivers are fit and proper, and that the vehicles they drive are safe, suitable and reliable.

Potentially, any vehicle and driver that can be hired to carry up to eight passengers for reward will be required to be licensed, subject to a small number of exemptions. The majority of chauffeur driven hire cars, executive hire vehicles, stretch limousines, and small school transport vehicles are required to be licensed, in addition to vehicles used for more general taxi work.

Register of currently licenced vehicles

Hackney carriages (taxis)
A hackney carriage is the only type of licensed vehicle which may legally call itself a taxi. They can wait on designated taxi ranks to be hired, or can accept bookings by being flagged down or hailed. All hackney carriages licenced by Three Rivers District Council must display a roof sign bearing the word "TAXI", and will also display a white and green coloured licence plate on the back of the car and in the front windscreen.

Private hire vehicles
A private hire vehicle can only be hired by pre-booking the journey through a licensed private hire operator. All private hire vehicles licenced by Three Rivers District Council must display white and green coloured licence plates on the back of the car and in the front windscreen.
A range of businesses may fall under the definition of private hire vehicles, including minicabs, chauffeurs, shuttle buses, courtesy car services and stretch limos.

Public service vehicles (PSVs)
We can only licence vehicles which carry up to eight passengers as taxis or private hire vehicles. Larger vehicles which are hired out to carry passengers must be licensed by VOSA as public service vehicles. For more information on public service vehicle licensing, please visit the website.

Identification plates on licenced vehicles

Both types of vehicles (Hackney Carriage and private hire) must display plastic 'plates' issued by us on the back of the vehicle, and smaller ones to be displayed in the front windscreen.

White square external plates are issued to Hackney Carriages and these should be permanently affixed to the rear of the vehicle. hackney-carriage-external-plate.jpg
private-hire-external-plate.jpg Green/white rectangular external plates are issued to private hire vehicles; these too should be permanently affixed to the rear of the vehicle. There are some vehicles which have an exemption from displaying the external private hire plate, this exemption MUST be applied for and be granted by the Licensing Department before the plate may be removed.
  • The information on the plates and badges is very important if you wish to make a complaint as it’s the best way to identify a particular driver or car. Each plate on a vehicle has an individual number, as do the drivers' badges. The vehicle plates also state the maximum number of passengers permitted in the vehicle, and this number should never be exceeded as it may void the motor insurance for the journey.

Current fees

The fee for a new/renewal vehicle licence is currently £133

The fee for a licensee transfer is £36-50 (changing the name of the licensee)

The fee for a transfer and plate is £60 (changing the vehicle on the licence)

To apply for a vehicle licence

To apply for either a Hackney Carriage or private hire vehicle licence please download the forms below or contact us on 01923 776611 to request an application pack, alternatively these forms can be collected in the reception of our Council offices.

Private Hire vehicle application form

Hackney Carriage vehicle application form

When submitting the application you will be required to submit all of the following (documents must be original):

  • Licence application
  • MOT certificate, issued by one of our designated garages
  • V5 logbook or new keepers slip (V5C/2)
  • Current insurance certificate
  • Relevant fee
  • Any other documents as stated on the application form

Criteria for vehicles

The vehicles are required to undergo an annual MOT and Compliance test which not only tests for mechanical fitness but for the overall condition of the vehicle. Vehicles are expected to be in very good condition, and cars and drivers should be clean and presentable at all times. Once the vehicle has been MOT'd and compliance checked the garage will submit the compliance certificate directly to the Licensing Department. An application will not be process unless a vehicle has passed.

Licensing officers carry out random checks on vehicles and drivers all year long to ensure they continue to comply with these requirements.

Standard conditions for Hackney Carriage vehicles

Private Hire Vehicle standard conditions

Maintaining the licence

Once the application has been granted, a licence will be issued allowing the vehicle to be used for up to 12 months as a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle, as applicable. We will also issue a set of licence plates which must be displayed on the vehicle at all times unless an exemption has been granted.

While the licence is in force, the licence-holder must inform us in writing of:

  • any change to their address,
  • any accidents or incidents involving the vehicle, or
  • any change to the details of the vehicle (a fee is payable for changes relating to personal number plates, or the vehicle's colour, structure or capacity).

Licence-holders must notify us if they sell the licensed vehicle (the new owner will also be required to apply for a new licence in their own name). It is not possible to sell or retain the 'plate' (licence) on its own - it must be transferred to the new owner with the vehicle to which it relates.

Renewal applications must be made at least five working days prior to the expiry of the licence. If a renewal application is not made before the expiry date, the licence will lapse and a new application will need to be made. This may result in the vehicle being unlicensed for a period of time.

Vehicles may be periodically stopped and inspected by licensing officers or the police, to ensure that they are being maintained correctly and are complying with both road laws and our licensing conditions.

Accident and defect reporting

If your licensed vehicle is involved in an accident which affects the safety, performance or appearance of the vehicle, you must report it to us within 72 hours. 
If your vehicle has a mechanical fault that means you will need to rent a temporary vehicle, you have to report it to us
Please call us on 01923 776611 to report, alternatively download the form below and email it to us at

Accident Report Form


Q) How long will it take to receive my plate and licence?

A) It can take up to five working days to process your licence once we have a a complete application


Q) How will I know when my plate is ready to collect?

A) You will be notified by phone call


Q) Where do I collect my plate from?

A) Your plate will be kept in reception at Three Rivers District Council. Please bring a form of ID with you.


Q) I have lost my plate / paper licence. How can I get a replacement?

A) Please note that if you have lost your external plate then you cannot work as a licenced vehicle until it has been replaced. You will have to complete a form and pay a fee for us to reissue any part of your licence. Please contact the Licensing team as soon as possible to arrange this.


Q) I am selling my licenced vehicle, what should I do?

A) If you have sold your car to another licensed driver they will need to do a Transfer form, to transfer the licence into their name. You will need to confirm in writing that you sold the vehicle to them. If you have sold your car and do not wish to transfer your licence you will need to surrender your licence in writing either by writing a letter to: Licensing Team, Three Rivers House, Northway, Rickmansworth, WD3 1RL or email us at:  You must return your paper licence and plates to Three Rivers DC.


Q) I have bought a vehicle that is already licenced, what should I do?

A) You will need to complete a Transfer application form; to transfer the licence into your name.

The previous owner will need to confirm in writing that they sold the vehicle to you.  If you would like an application form please call 01923 776611 and speak to a member of the Licensing Team, they will arrange for a form to be sent out to you or for one to be collected at reception.

Contact us

For more information about taxi and private hire vehicle licences, please phone 01923 776611 or email