If you want to use your vehicle as a taxi you need to get it licensed by us.

There are 2 types of vehicle licences: hackney carriage and private hire.

What you will need

All vehicles must have a:

  • log book (V5C registration certificate) with M1 Type Approval and the correct taxation class
  • valid insurance certificate (including hire and reward)
  • vehicle specification (European Certificate of Conformity from the manufacturer or an Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA))
  • MOT certificate dated within four weeks prior to the application date and has been conducted at a DVSA approved testing station

Vehicles must also pass a fitness test.

In addition hackney carriage vehicles should meet our wheelchair accessibility specifications and have a sealed calibrated meter fitted.

A calibration certificate is required at the time of licensing and re-licensing certifying that the meter has been calibrated at a rate that does not exceed our maximum fare rate.

Current approved meter companies are:

  • TS UK Bristol Ltd c/o MAN Truck and Bus, 28 Third Way, Avonmouth, Bristol, BS11 9YS phone: 0117 9717119 email: tsukbristol@hotmail.co.uk
  • Gardner Taxi Equipment Unit 4, Business Centre, Concorde Drive, Clevedon, BS21 6UH phone: 01275 874578 email: gtes@btinternet.com

All standard conditions of licence are set out in our taxi and private hire licensing policy.

Book a vehicle fitness test

You should book a vehicle fitness test direct with our Broad Lane garage. To do this you must complete and send a request for a vehicle fitness test form to mot.bookings@southglos.gov.uk.

The test costs £40 or £83.80 if the vehicle has an MOT at the same time.

You do not need an MOT if your vehicle is brand new.

You must apply for a licence within 4 weeks of the date of the vehicle fitness test certificate.

All vehicles need to be fitness tested every 6 months. If you do not do this the vehicle licence will be suspended.

Use our checklist to make sure you are ready for your vehicle fitness test.

License your vehicle

Once your vehicle has passed the fitness test you will need to complete a vehicle licence application form and email it to taxis@southglos.gov.uk.

Vehicle licences last for 1 year and you will need to renew the licence each year.

On the application form we will ask for the first date of registration. You do not need an MOT for a:

  • private hire vehicle up to 3 years from the first date of registration
  • hackney carriage vehicle up to 1 year from the first date of registration

For vehicles being licensed for the first time, the age of a vehicle is determined by the date of first registration on the V5C registration certificate (log book). A vehicle will only be accepted for licensing if the date of first registration is less than 5 years from the application date.

A licensed vehicle can be re-licensed for up to 10 years from the date of first registration if it has met all other licensing requirements.

We do not accept A, B, S (previously C), or N (previously D) vehicle categories for new and renewal applications.

This may affect vehicles that have been involved in an accident while licensed. It means that the vehicle suspension will not be removed.

Licensing someone else’s vehicle

If you are not the owner of the vehicle, you can still apply for it to be licensed. You will need written permission from the owner stating that they will allow the vehicle to be used as a licensed taxi or private hire vehicle. The owner will not be able to use it for the duration of the licence.

You will need to send us a copy of the written permission. This can be by email or post.

Read an example template of a permission letter

I (owner full name) give permission for my vehicle, registration number (XXXX XXX), to be used as a South Gloucestershire Council private hire licensed vehicle by (applicant’s full name and badge number).

I understand that I will not have access to use the vehicle for the duration of its licence.
Signed: (owner)


Owner’s address:


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If you are married, your partner can only drive your vehicle if they also have a private hire drivers’ licence with us and have the appropriate insurance. If you are not sure you should contact us.

Renew your vehicle licence

To renew your vehicle licence, let us know by email before your licence expires.

If you do not contact us in advance you will need to start a new vehicle licence application.

Transfer your licence

If you have sold your vehicle, you can transfer the licence to another driver. We will need the new owner to attend an appointment with us. To get an appointment you should email us.

The previous owner is not required to attend the appointment if the transfer application form has been completed and the paper licence given to the new owner to hand in.

We will need a:

  • new insurance certificate
  • new keeper slip or log book
  • receipt for the purchase in the new owner’s name

These must be the original documents.

End a vehicle licence

Once a vehicle is 10 years old it cannot be licensed again. You will need to complete a depart from policy request form for the vehicle and email it to us.

Vehicle rules

Read about what you can and cannot do with your vehicle below.

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Licence plates

Plates must be displayed at all times even if you are using your vehicle for social purposes.

It is a licence condition and both plates must be displayed unless you have an exemption. To apply for an exemption to displaying your plates on your private hire vehicle, you should complete and send a plate exemption request form to us by email.

Lost or stolen plates
If you think your plates have been stolen, you need to report this to the police and get a crime reference number.

If you have just lost your plates then you do not need to report it to the police. You should complete and send us a lost plates, badges or paper licence notification form by email.

You will then be given an appointment to come into our office and pay for your replacement plates and licence.


Your vehicle is only allowed to have manufactured or factory fitted privacy glass. Aftermarket tints are not allowed and must be removed before applying for a licence. Any other modifications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You will need to email us your enquiry.


You must let us know before installing cameras in your vehicle. You will need to sign a partnership agreement on the management of in-car CCTV camera systems. Read more about this in our taxi and private hire licensing policy.

Door signs

You are not required to have door signs.

Spare wheels, run flats and inflation kits

You must have a spare wheel, run flat or working inflation kit in your car at all times. Without it, the licence can be refused or suspended until you put one in your vehicle.

Lost property

You should check the vehicle for any property which may have accidentally been left there by customers. Any high value items such as phones and laptops should be taken to a local police station.

For other items there is a Facebook group TAXI – Lost and Found Bristol for property left in taxis. The expectation is that private hire operators will sort out their own found property as they should know who the customer was.

Payments and card machines

You can set a minimum card payment as long as you give the customer an option of paying cash for the journey. However, you cannot charge additional money because someone is paying by card.

You can view the table of tariffs and fares for hackney carriage vehicles.


Smoking is not allowed in a licensed vehicle, whether the driver is working or not. If smoking is witnessed in a licensed vehicle the person smoking will be fined. If the person smoking is the driver then they may also have penalty points added to their licence.

Renting vehicles from third parties

Both the driver and vehicle owner are responsible for the vehicle if it is rented from a third party and has a problem such as defective tyres. If you are using a vehicle with poorly maintained tyres (damaged, below the legal limit or wrongly inflated) you are putting yourself, your passengers and the public at risk.

If you are stopped by the police, DVLA penalty points may be added to your DVLA and taxi and private hire licence.

Bus lanes

There are 11 fixed bus lane enforcement cameras in South Gloucestershire. You should check the individual bus lane signs to see if you are able to use it as some lanes are not designated for hackney carriage or private hire vehicles.


Report an accident with your vehicle

If at any time a vehicle is involved in an accident, incident or collision you must tell us immediately or the next working day at the latest.

Complete and return a vehicle accident report form by the end of the next working day.

Contact us

You should send any forms or questions to taxis@southglos.gov.uk.

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