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 Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy: 
Please note: 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

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.
New licence application process
Step 1 - The Application Form
The first step in applying for an operators licence is to complete an application form and submit this to the council along with all required documents and the fee. 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 the reception desk at Three Rivers District Council offices. In order to obtain an operators licence for Three Rivers your operating base (that is where the telephone is answered and bookings are actually taken) must be within the district of Three Rivers. Please note: 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

All applications must be accompanied by:

  • A recent Basic Disclosure certificate for every individual applicant, or every director of the company. This certificate must be less than 3 months old at the time of submission.
  • Details of all the vehicles and drivers that the operator intends to operate Private Hire drivers and vehicle list
  • Copies of any supporting documents you intend to rely upon during your application
    • ID documents for all applicants/directors including proof of right to work, proof of National Insurance Number and proof of address
    • Proof that proposed business address has correct permission to be used as base
    • Public liability insurance and employers liability insurance where relevant (only applicable if you are applying for a public office or you are employing staff)
  • Payment for the application fee. Please note only card payments are accepted
  • As of 1st April 2020 - all applicants must submit a taxi Safeguarding course pass certificate 

Step 2 - The Knowledge Test

Applicants for a private hire operator licence must also sit a knowledge test. 

Step 3 - Operating Base Inspection

In order to ensure that you will be operating from a base within Three Rivers, a Licensing Officer will inspect your operating base to ensure that this requirement is met.

  • Planning permission You will also need to speak to the planning department to ensure that you can use your address as a place of business.

Step 4 - The Licence

Once all the relevant paperwork has been received and the inspection completed, a licence will be issued for a maximum period of five years.

Renewal Applications
If you wish to continue to be licensed by this authority, you will need to complete the application form and return it to the Council with the relevant fee at least 2 months before the expiry of the current licence. You will also need to bring a Basic Disclosure Certificate which is dated within the last 3 months. Licence holders who also hold a driver licence can provide proof of a valid enhanced DBS certificate instead of obtaining a new basic disclosure.    

Important Renewal Appointment Information:

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.