Shropshire Council

Hackney carriage or private hire?

Many people are unaware of the difference between the two types of vehicle licences we issue. There are many similarities between hackney carriage and private hire vehicles. However, if the vehicle is operating outside of its licence conditions and relevant legislation this can invalidate the insurance and put the customer at serious risk. The differences between them are listed below. Further information is also available in the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy 2019-2023.

Hackney carriage vehicles

A hackney carriage is more commonly called a ‘taxi’. Hackney carriages are licensed to stand for hire at a taxi rank or can be hailed in the administrative area of the council with which it is licensed. From the 1 April 2021, we will not operate separate zones for the licensing of hackney carriages and the relevant licensable area will be the whole administrative area of the Council. 

With effect from 1 April 2021 all hackney carriage vehicles are required to be wheelchair accessible.

A licensed hackney carriage may also undertake pre-booked journeys without having to work through a licensed private hire operator.

Hackney carriages must be insured for public hire (hackney carriage use), which permits them to ply for hire by standing at a taxi rank or be hailed in the street, as well as being pre-booked.

A hackney carriage can be licensed for up to eight passenger seats.

In addition to the above, council-licensed hackney carriage vehicles:

  • Will display Shropshire Council licence plates, which have a white background on the exterior and interior of the vehicle
  • Will have a roof sign bearing the word 'TAXI'
  • Will be fitted with a meter. This meter must have been calibrated to our table of fares.  A copy of the table of fares must be displayed within the vehicle
  • Will display a wheelchair accessible sign on wheelchair accessible vehicles
  • Will have a ‘No Smoking’ sign on display

Private hire vehicles

A private hire vehicle can only be used to complete jobs where the booking has been received by a licensed private hire operator. Records of the bookings undertaken by private hire vehicles must be kept by the licensed private hire operator. The operator receiving the booking must be licensed by the same authority which licenses the vehicle that is being dispatched to fulfil the job. However, operators can sub-contract to another operator outside the local authority area.

A private hire vehicle cannot be used to ply for hire, stand on any taxi rank, or be hailed in the street. 

A private hire vehicle will be insured for private hire. If a private hire driver accepts a fare off the street without it being pre-booked through the licensed private hire operator, they are liable for prosecution. It's also important to note that anyone taking a journey in a private hire vehicle which has been 'flagged down' is not insured for the journey.

In addition to the above council-licensed private hire vehicles:

  • Will display Shropshire Council licence plates, which have a yellow background, on the inside and outside of the vehicle
  • Will display door signs on the front driver and passenger doors showing the council logo, private hire licence number and the maximum number of passengers the vehicle can carry
  • Will have a ‘No Smoking’ sign on display
  • Must not have a roof sign
  • Don't require a meter.