Information regarding Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicle Licenses

Any hackney carriages (taxis) or private hire vehicles 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.

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 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.  *Image Pending*
*Image Pending* Green/white square 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.

Smoking inside licensed vehicles

It is against the law the law to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places, workplaces and public and work vehicles. This means that smoking, including vaping, is not allowed by anyone in a private hire vehicle (or taxi) at any time. This includes the driver, even if the vehicle is not being used for hire and reward at that time. Licensed private hire and taxi vehicles are also required to display no smoking signage. Drivers or passengers found to be smoking in a licensed private hire or taxi vehicles may be subject to a fixed penalty notice of £50, or a maximum fine of £200 if prosecuted and convicted by a court. 

More information can be found here 

Contact us

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