Private Hire Operator Licence

Anyone who acts as a private hire operator (that is, anyone who invites or accepts bookings for private hire vehicles, including 'booking agent' businesses which accept bookings and then sub-contract them) must be licensed by us. Private hire vehicles cannot lawfully carry out any journey which has not been pre-booked through an operator, and may invalidate their insurance if they were to do so.

For licensing purposes, it does not make any difference how a booking is made - companies providing booking offices, telephone booking lines, websites or app bookings must all be licensed. It also, does not make a difference whether the booking is for a one-off journey to be paid in cash, or a regular booking under a contract. Vehicles provided as part of a commercial package (for example, courtesy car pick-up from a hotel) may also need to be licensed, as will the hire of 'novelty' vehicles, such as stretch limos and party buses, or chauffeur-driven cars (although wedding and funeral car services are exempt from licensing).

Operators are responsible for arranging and fulfilling bookings, employing and vetting licensed drivers and vehicles, responding to customer complaints, and maintaining records of every booking they receive. As they are responsible for the care of their customers, some of whom may be vulnerable, it is vital that we can be satisfied that operators are 'fit and proper persons'.

Before applying it is advised that you read our Suitability Policy: 

Sub-contracting bookings
If a prospective operator intends to receive and accept bookings at a premises in Three Rivers, they must apply for, and be granted a licence by us. That operator can then only delegate jobs to private hire vehicles and drivers who have also been licensed by Three Rivers, or sub-contract bookings to other licensed operators, either in the Three Rivers District or elsewhere.
It is against the law for an operator to pass bookings directly to a private hire vehicle or driver who is not licensed by the same council as that operator.
Operators with offices or bases in multiple council areas (for which they will need licences from each authority concerned) can pass bookings between their offices/bases, but cannot give jobs directly to drivers licensed by the other licensing authorities. The operator be required to maintain separate records for each council area that details every booking which has been sub-contracted to or from another office.
Private hire operators may also sub-contract jobs to hackney carriage proprietors, although this must remain a minority part of the overall work undertaken by that hackney carriage vehicle.
Where jobs are sub-contracted to another operator, we strongly advise that the customer is made aware of this to avoid any confusion.
Applying for an operator licence
An application form can be obtained by calling 01923 776611, by emailing us at or you can download one here:
Forms are also available to collect from our welcome desk at Three Rivers District Council offices. 

Completed applications should be sent to the Licensing department, at the address given. Alternatively they can be submitted at the welcome desk.

All applications must be accompanied by:

  • A recent Basic Disclosure certificate for every individual applicant, or every director of the company , who is not currently licensed by us as a taxi or private hire driver (or who is not currently applying for a driver's licence)
  • Details of all the vehicles and drivers that the operator intends to operate, if a licence is granted Private Hire drivers and vehicle list (pdf)
  • Copies of any supporting documents you intend to rely upon during your application
  • Payment for the application fee. Please note only card payments are accepted

If you are setting up a new business where you will be the only driver, we will normally ask you to apply for a private hire driver's licence at the same time, so that we can consider both applications together. Driver's licence applications require a DBS enhanced disclosure, which is more comprehensive than a basic disclosure.

We will review all valid applications and carry out further checks including a premises visit from a Licensing Officer to ascertain that the operating premises meets our conditions. A licence will be granted providing we are satisfied that the applicant(s) is a fit and proper person.

The 'fit and proper' requirement is wide ranging, but may take into account any previous criminal convictions or cautions, the right to undertake employment in the UK, and other such matters as we consider appropriate. Our Suitability Policy will advise about what we will take into consideration.

Licences will be granted for five years. There are conditions which an operator must adhere to which can be downloaded and viewed below:

Private Hire Operator Standard Conditions

Important notes:

  • Fee for Private Hire Operator Licence (5 years) is £965.00 (cheques or cash no longer accepted)
  • All Operator Licences will be subject to a minimum standard of an annual premises check
  • All Operator Licences will be subject to an annual Basic Disclosure Certificate (if the operator is already a licenced driver with TRDC then the annual DBS check will cover this)
  • Applicants for operator licences cannot use the same  (or similar) name as any private hire firm currently operating within the district or any previously used within the district and registered by the operator at Companies House.  

Renewal Applications from 1 October 2015:
If you wish to continue to be licensed by this authority, you will need to complete the renewal form and return it to the Council with the relevant fee of £965.00. You will also need to bring a Basic Disclosure Certificate which is dated within the last 30 days of the date of your application form.  

The legal duty to be properly licensed rests with yourself. Therefore, if in future you do not receive a reminder from the Council you must still seek to renew your licence. It is an offence to take a booking for a Private Hire booking without a current and valid Private Hire Operator’s licence.

All licences must be renewed before their expiry date, as shown on the licence. Any application to renew a licence that has gone beyond its expiry date will be refused and an application for a NEW operator licence will be required.

Contact us

For more information on operator licences, please email or call 01923 776611.