Information for Hackney Carriage and Private Drivers
Part 2 - Application Procedure
Licences will be issued for a period of 3 years. The Council will consider each application on its own merit once the required application and accompanying documents are received.
The applicant must then contact the Hackney Carriage Office to arrange a mutually convenient appointment to commence the application process. Applicants will need to provide the following:
- Completed application forms with two colour passport-sized photograph
- Licence fee, (note that payments can only be accepted by cash, cheque or postal order made out to WHBC). The applicant will be given a receipt for the fee paid
- Proof of "Right to Work in the UK"
- It should be noted that only original versions of the documents listed above will be accepted, (no photocopies
- For those applicants not holding an EU passport, evidence will need to be provided of the applicant's right to work in the UK, which will include a relevant Visa or letter from the appropriate Embassy/Authority.
All supporting identification documents must be consistent in that all personal details including spelling and order of names should correspond. Any identification documents with names spelt incorrectly and/or with incorrect details will be rejected.
The Council will not be responsible for any documents that may be lost in the post.
On application for a new licence, applicants will be required to have a sufficient understanding and use of English to be able to perform effectively as a taxi driver. If an applicant demonstrates an insufficient understanding and use of English they will be 'signposted' to Welwyn Hatfield Council to enable them to undertake an English Language course.
Applications must be successfully completed within six months from the date the initial application is made. This is to ensure, as far as possible, the relevance of the information received. Failure to complete the process within this time will render the application void. It will then be necessary for the applicant to recommence the process resulting in additional cost to the applicant.
There are several stages to the application process which are set out below:
- All applicants will be required to pass a written 'Knowledge Test' under the supervision of a Hackney Carriage Officer. The test comprises of questions relating to the conditions of the licence, the law relating to the licence, geographical knowledge of the area, customer care and disability awareness, highway code, arithmetic and visitor information.The fee for the knowledge test must be paid by the applicant in advance of the initial and any subsequent test(s).
- The applicant will be required to take a medical examination to DVLA Group 2 standard at the applicant's own registered medical practitioner (GP). All associated medical fees charged are payable by the applicant. When issued, the medical certificate should be returned to the Hackney Carriage Office to progress the application.
- The granting/renewal of a licence is subject to a DBS check. In addition, a check will be made with the DVLA in respect of driving convictions. We may get information about you from certain third parties, or give information to them to check the accuracy of information, to prevent or detect crime, or to protect public funds in other ways, as permitted by law. These third parties include other Local Authorities and Government departments. Licences are issued subject to the Council being satisfied the applicant is a 'fit and proper' person to hold a driver's licence. It is for the applicant to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of the Council as the Council is under a duty to establish that each applicant is 'fit and proper'.
A check as to the status of an Applicant's driving licence, will be undertaken prior to the granting or renewal of any licence. This is done by completing and submitting the Mandate supplied by the Hackney Carriage Office. Please note that where it asks for "driver number", this refers to your DVLA number on your driving licence,not your badge number supplied by the Council. Future checks during the licence can be completed by the driver.
On satisfactory receipt of these items, and subject to a satisfactory Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Taxi Driver (Standard) Certificate check, the applicant will be issued with a licence and identification badge. A licence will not be issued until the above process is completed. Applicants should note that this process could take a number of weeks.Upon expiry (without immediate renewal), revocation or suspension of this licence, a driver shall forthwith return the driver's badge issued to them by the Council to a member of the Hackney Carriage Office.
All fees will be paid in full at the time of Application/Renewal; once paid they will not, on any account, be refunded. Fees may also be amended from time to time to meet the reasonable cost of issue and administration.
There is a verbal geographical knowledge test for Private Hire drivers. This is made up of 10 questions on the journey between any of 40 locations. Applicants must score 80% or more.
Applicants will be required to undergo a simple written test, demonstrate the ability to answer simple maths questions and have a short conversation with the Examining Officer. If the required level of understanding is not achieved, the applicant will be informed at the time.
The Application shall stay open for a period of 6 months from date of refusal. If he Applicant is aggrieved by the Examining Officer's decision, they may appeal to the Hackney Carriage Committee or Magistrates Court.
Hackney Carriage Applicants must complete the same verbal and maths test as the Private Hire Applicant, as well as a two-part examination which lasts for one hour. The first part, referred to as the "Routes" entails the Applicant describing in writing, 20 routes from within the Borough selected at random. These may include pubs, office complexes, roads, tourist attractions or any other places of interest.
The onus is on the driver to display a thorough knowledge of the Borough. The pass mark is 80%.
In the second part, the Applicant must show a good understanding of the byelaws and terms and conditions regarding the licensing of Hackney Carriages and their use. They will be asked 10 questions on these. Again the pass mark is 80%.
Knowledge tests can only be undertaken by making an appointment with the Hackney Carriage Office. This can be achieved by writing into the Hackney Carriage Office requesting a test. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council grants "dual licences" to those that have passed the Hackney Carriage knowledge test, enabling drivers to drive both hackney and private hire vehicles, (providing the permission of the registered owner of the vehicle and appropriate insurance has been obtained in advance). This is to provide flexibility for professional drivers to drive any vehicle licensed by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. A driver who possesses only a Private Hire driver's licence shall only be able to drive a Private Hire vehicle.
Child sexual exploitation awareness training
All drivers, operators and proprietors shall undertake Child Sexual Exploitation, (CSE), awareness training at the time of application and before the renewal of any licence. This course will be run by the council at no expense to the applicant/driver/attendee.This training is in line with the government's report regarding CSE. Drivers will be informed of dates for the course, which will take no longer than two hours. The onus will be upon them to ensure their attendance. Any non attendance will be considered in line with the "fit and proper person" criteria when considering the grant or renewal of licences.
The health of a driver is an important aspect of their fitness to hold a licence. All applicants will be required to pass a Group 2 medical examination as specified by the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVLA) before a licence is granted. The Approved Form is to be used for this purpose and is obtainable from the Hackney carriage Office at the time of your DBS check. The fee for this examination is borne by the Applicant. Applicants will be required to undergo a medical examination every 3 years up to the age of 65, and annually thereafter.
Disclosure and Barring Service checks
A Disclosure and Barring Check on a driver is an important safety measure for all drivers. At present there are four levels of disclosure
All persons who are, or wish to become licensed drivers, must obtain a disclosure at the level "Child and Adult Workforce" through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS),which provides details of live and spent convictions, police cautions, intelligence, and other information.
The Council is an approved DBS body entitled to request and process information disclosed by the DBS in respect of an applicant for a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire vehicle drivers licence and as such all checks will be done through the Council. The applicant will be charged the appropriate fee in connection with the application for Disclosure.
The appropriate level of DBS disclosure will be carried out by the Council every third year upon application for renewal. The Council can also request another disclosure at any time, should a further check be considered necessary, this will be at the applicant's expense.
Once a DBS check has been processed a copy of the disclosure report will be sent by DB'S to the applicant directly to their designated home address. In order for the Council to consider a new or renewal application for a licence the disclosure report must be provided to the Hackney Carriage office at the earliest possible opportunity, (even if the report is clear of any convictions).
The Council will not divulge personal information disclosed as a result of the DBS check to any third party unless allowed by law. However, to promote the licensing objectives the Hackney Carriage Office will share information with other relevant agencies for example; Customs and Excise, the Police and Benefit Agencies. Information will also be shared with internal departments within the Council where considered appropriate.
Any person arriving in the UK after the age of 14 will be required to provide a certificate of good conduct authenticated by the relevant Embassy or delegation. Anyone employing a driver from outside the European Union, (formerly known as the European Economic Community), must check whether that person is permitted to work in this country or is subject to work restrictions, (this is a legal requirement). Additionally, all applicants are required to show that they have a right to work in the UK. Where this is an interim authorisation, ie whilst an application is being considered, you must immediately notify the Hackney Carriage Office on receipt/notification of that decision.
Information regarding Certificates of Good Conduct or similar documents from a number of countries is available from:
Passport and Documentary Service Group
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Old Admiralty Building
Applicants for licences will be responsible for obtaining and paying for, (where required),all the relevant documents required by the licensing process. The Council will not assist the applicant with this part of the process.
Fit and proper person
To assess a driver's suitability as 'fit and proper', the Council will carry out an enhanced check with the Disclosure Barring Service, (DBS previously known as Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)). No licence will be issued until the results of that check have been received. The Council must have regard to relevant information in determining the fitness and propriety of all applicants.
There is no absolute definition as to what constitutes a 'fit and proper person'. However,considering the range of passengers that a driver may carry, (e.g. elderly people, unaccompanied children, the disabled, those who have had too much to drink, lone women and foreign visitors), the Council relies on drivers using a common sense approach. Some areas that give rise for particular concern include:
Licence holders can be subjected to unpleasant or dishonest behaviour. The Council does not consider that this excuses any aggressive or abusive conduct on the part of the licence holder, towards members of the public, Council Officers or any other person.
Licensed drivers must act appropriately at all times whilst undertaking their duties. Appropriateness will extend to courtesy to the passenger(s)and other road users alike. Drivers shall not engage in or otherwise encourage conversations which could cause discomfort to another person or persons, including asking personal questions about or of, passengers or other people. Similarly, opinions on sexuality, race or religion should not be discussed.
The ability to communicate clearly with customers is an obvious requirement. All applicants must be able to converse with a good basic standard of the English language. This will be assessed by Officers during the application process. Should any applicants fall below a standard deemed acceptable by Officers, their application will be rejected.
Honesty and trust
Drivers and operators often have knowledge that a customer is leaving a house empty. Opportunities may arise to defraud drunken, vulnerable or foreign visitors or to misappropriate property left in cars. Any passenger would expect any article left in a vehicle by them to be returned, they would also expect to be charged the correct fare for a journey and to be given the correct change.
The health of a driver is an important aspect of their fitness to hold a licence.All applicants will be required to pass a Group 2 medical examination as specified by the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVLA) before a licence is granted. Medical examinations are then undertaken every 3 years. From the age of 65 medical examinations become an annual requirement. Where there are any concerns about a driver's health, an additional medical may be required. All medicals are at the expense of the applicant/licence holder and are only valid if conducted by the applicant/licence holders own GP or agency nominated by the Local Authority.
Those paying for a transport service rely on their driver to get them to their destination safely.
Right to work in the UK
The Council notes that the Department for Transport considers it best practice for Council's to check an applicant's right to work before granting a Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Vehicle Driver's Licence. Therefore, all currently licensed drivers will be required to produce documentary proof of their right to work in the UK when they next apply to renew their current driver's licence. Anyone applying for a new licence will be required to produce documentary proof of their right to work in the UK.
If the Council is in any doubt as to a person's right to work (or to be) in the UK, the Council will notify the Border and Immigration Agency of its concerns, and can obtain case specific immigration status information from the Evidence and Enquiry Unit.
Set out below are the documents which will be accepted as proof of your right to work in the UK:
List 1 - any one of the following:
- A passport showing that you are a British citizen, or have a right of abode in the United Kingdom;
- A document showing that you are a national of a European Economic Area country or Switzerland. This must be a national passport or identity card;
- A resident permit issued by the Home Office to you if you are a national from a European Economic Area country or Switzerland;
- A passport or other travel document endorsed to show that you can stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom, or has no time limit on your stay;
- A passport or other travel document endorsed to show that you can stay in the United Kingdom, and that this endorsement allows you to do this type of work if you do not have a work permit;
- An Application Registration Card issued by the Home Office to an asylum seeker stating that you are permitted to take employment
List 2 - A document giving your permanent National Insurance Number and name. This could be a P45, P60, National Insurance card or a letter from a Government agency,(National Insurance Numbers beginning with TN or any number which ends with the letters E to Z inclusive are not acceptable). And any of the following:
- a full birth certificate issued in the United Kingdom, which includes the names of your parents
- a birth certificate issued in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland; or
- a certificate of registration or naturalisation stating that you are a British citizen; or
- a letter issued by the Home Office to you which indicates that you can stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom, or has no time limit on your stay; or
- an Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office to you with an endorsement indicating that you can stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom, or has no time limit on your stay; or
- a letter issued by the Home Office to you which indicates that you can stay in the United Kingdom, and allows you to do this type of work; or
- an Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office to you with an endorsement indicating that you can stay in the United Kingdom, and this allows you to do this type of work.
List 3 - A work permit or other approval to take employment that has been issued by Work Permits UK and either of the following:
- a passport or other travel document endorsed to show that you are able to stay in the United Kingdom and can take the work permit employment in question;
- a letter issued by the Home Office confirming that you are able to stay in the United Kingdom and can take the work permit employment in question.
Expectations of licence holders and applicants
The Council encourages and expects licence holders to promote high standards within the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire trade by:
- Knowing and complying with the law and all the conditions of their licence and byelaws
- Making appointments in good time when it is necessary to visit the Hackney Carriage Office
- Being prompt and keeping to appointment times with the Hackney Carriage Office
- Parking considerately and carefully when visiting the Hackney Carriage Office;
- Paying attention to personal hygiene and dress, so as to present a professional image to the public, (see "Dress Code")
- Respecting authorised Officers during the normal course of their duties.
When a licence is due for renewal a reminder letter will be sent to you prior to the expiry of a licence together with the relevant forms required for completion in order to renew the licence. This will normally be approximately two months in advance of the-license expiring. It is important that you contact the Hackney Carriage Office to make an appointment be inconvenient or to advise that you no longer wish to renew your licence. Failure to do so may incur additional costs.
Reminders are sent purely as a matter of courtesy and it remains the responsibility of the licence holder to make a timely application and avoid licences expiring.
All applications for licence renewals must be made in advance of the expiry of the current licence to allow for the application to be processed.
If a renewal application is not received before the expiry date then there is no licence to renew and any subsequent request will be treated as a new application,with all the necessary checks starting again.
Applicants should attend for appointments at the prescribed time and hand to the Hackney Carriage Officer all relevant documents as requested in the letter. Should it transpire that a DBS or DVLA re-check is due or a medical, (which becomes age related from 65 years), then appropriate letters will be issued.
Issuing/Suspending/Revoking or Refusing to Renew a Licence
It must be clearly understood that Hackney Carriage/Private Hire driver's licences are issued in good faith, and should any information supplied by the applicant prove to be false, misleading or omitted, the licence may be withdrawn.
The Licence will also be withdrawn if the driver's DVLA driving licence is suspended or revoked by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction.
Any conviction, caution or other reprimand, or pending prosecution of any nature, must be reported to the Hackney Carriage Officer regardless of nature, penalty or outcome immediately, and in writing within seven days.
The attention of drivers and applicants for Driving Licences is drawn to Section 61 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, whereby a Borough Council may suspend, revoke or refuse the renewal of a licence where the driver has been convicted of any offence involving dishonesty, indecency, violence or any other reasonable cause.
Suspension may be the appropriate action to deal with a breach of the regulations or a statutory requirement, where defects are found on a vehicle, where the driver has committed a breach of the law or as a way of determining the outcome of a complaint or hearing.
Revocation may be the appropriate action to deal with a serious breach of the regulations or a statutory requirement, where offences have been committed under criminal or road traffic legislation or as a way of determining the outcome of a complaint or hearing