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Private Hire And Hackney Carriage Licensing Policy 2022 - 2026

Appendix G - Private hire and hackney carriage vehicle specifications

All vehicles must comply with the requirements of Section A. In addition, private hire vehicles must comply with the requirements of Section B and F as appropriate, novelty vehicles and stretched limousines must comply with Sections B and C, and hackney carriage vehicles must comply with the requirements of Section D and E.

All vehicles must be 'exceptionally well maintained'.

All vehicles must be 'type approved'.

The vehicle specification shall be complied with during the licence period unless any changes have been given prior approval by the Council.

It must be understood that, although the requirements set out in this document have been complied with, each application will be dealt on its merits and approval will be withheld if the Council is of the opinion that a vehicle is unsuitable for public use.

Section A - General specification for all vehicles

General construction

  1. the vehicle shall comply fully with all relevant statutory provisions relating to the construction of motor vehicles and including in particular those contained in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986
  2. no modification may be carried out on a vehicle (e.g. alteration of the original seat configuration or any other 'adaptation') without prior approval from the Council and/or the appropriate certificate produced
  3. no fittings, other than those approved by the Council, may be attached to, or carried on the inside or outside of, the vehicle
  4. the steering must be on the offside of the vehicle (unless exempted by the Council)
  5. all tyres must comply with the relevant legislation and tyres must be of the designated size, speed and weight rating for that make and model of vehicle as prescribed by the vehicle manufacturer. Re-treaded tyres must be marked accordingly
  6. the vehicle shall be capable of carrying in reasonable comfort a minimum of four passengers unless the Council approves a smaller number
  7. the body shall be of the fixed head type

Passenger comfort

  1. the rear seat dimensions must be adequate to carry the appropriate number of passengers and must provide a minimum:
    • seat width of 44cm for each person
    • headroom measured from centre of seat to underside of roof - 75cm
  2. the vehicle shall have an adequate heating and ventilation system for the comfort of all passengers
  3. the vehicle shall have interior lighting fitted in the passenger compartment sufficient to illuminate the whole of that compartment. The light(s) shall be switched such that they may be turned on and off both from the driving and passenger compartments and shall operate automatically when a door is opened

Passenger Safety

  1. the vehicle must be fitted with glass which is in accordance with current vehicle construction regulations prescribed in respect of the normal zone of vision i.e. the front windscreen 75% light transmittance and the front door windows 70% light transmittance. All remaining windows to the rear of the B pillar may have tint complying to original manufacture specification. No retrospective fitting of tinted windows shall be fitted. No unapproved self-adhesive material (tinted or clear) shall be affixed to any part of the glass.
  2. a proportion of the window area in the passenger compartment must be available for opening by the seated passenger.
  3. the vehicle shall have at least 4 doors which open sufficiently wide so as to allow safe and easy access and egress and provide the following minimum opening measurements:
    • door width - 712mm (28")
    • door height - 875mm (33")
    • each passenger, other than a front-seated passenger, must have access to at least two doors
  4. lap and diagonal seatbelts must be fitted to all seats
  5. head restraints must be fitted for all (forward and rear facing) seats. The design of headrests should maximise rear sightlines for the driver when any of the passenger seats are not occupied

Luggage capacity

Suitable dedicated provision for the secure carriage of luggage must be made separated from the passenger compartment. Estate models of vehicles must provide a fixed grill between the luggage and passenger compartments. Each vehicle model will be determined on its merits.

Age/emission standards

For wheelchair accessible vehicles there is no upper or lower age or emissions limit.

For fully electric or hybrid or LPG vehicles there is no upper or lower age or emissions limit.

Applications for new and replacement hackney carriage and private hire licences for vehicles other than wheelchair accessible or fully electric or hybrid or LPG shall be Euro VI vehicle emission standard or higher. Euro VI vehicle emission standard became mandatory for all vehicles in 2015 and a registration date of 1 September 2015 will be used to comply with policy.

Any renewal of an existing hackney carriage or private hire vehicle other than wheelchair accessible / fully electric / hybrid or LPG will only be granted if the vehicle does not exceed the maximum age limit of twelve years.


Meters, where fitted, shall be of a type approved by the Council and shall be calendar controlled and locked and sealed by the manufacturer/supplier so that tariff rates change automatically and cannot be changed or tampered with manually by the driver. Meters shall be positioned so that passengers in the vehicle can easily read the display.


No advertising on vehicles shall be allowed or affixed without prior approval of the Council and specifically shall not be affixed to any window door or panel on which the Council issued roundel or sign is located.

Section B - Specification for new and replacement saloon private hire vehicles

  1. the vehicle must have M1 European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EWVTA) and be of an approved type and which is not black in colour
  2. private hire vehicles must not have a roof sign

Section C - Additional specifications for novelty vehicles and stretched limousines private hire vehicles

  1. the vehicle must have passed the Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) (before 29 April 2009) or the Individual Vehicle Approval (from 29 April 2009) scheme test requirements
  2. the vehicle shall have Qualified Vehicle Modifier or Cadillac Coach Builder approval where appropriate

Section D - Specification for saloon hackney carriage vehicles

  1. the vehicle must have M1 European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EWVTA) and be of an approved type and be black in colour
  2. hackney carriage vehicles must have fitted on the roof, an internally illuminated TAXI top sign meeting a specification in relation to size approved by the Council (min. width of 60cm)
  3. hackney carriage vehicles must be fitted with an approved calendar-controlled taximeter in accordance with the requirements of this Policy and the Byelaws with Respect to Hackney Carriages

Section E - Specification for new or replacement wheelchair accessible hackney carriage vehicles

  1. the vehicle shall accommodate a passenger with a disability confined to a wheelchair and shall have been tested, or retested after any modification, to meet the M1 European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EWVTA)
  2. certification from the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) shall be required in all instances. This must bear the VCA authentication stamp
  3. the vehicle must comply fully with Section A and the applicable parts of Section D of the preceding specifications
  4. the vehicle must be capable of accommodating one or more wheelchairs in either a forward or rear facing position allowing adequate space to ensure the safety and comfort of the wheelchair user, without interfering with the safety and comfort of any other passengers
  5. approved anchorages must be provided for wheelchair tie-downs and the wheelchair passenger restraint. These anchorages must either be chassis or floor linked and shall comply with the strength requirements for M1 standards and any current European directives. Restraints for wheelchair and occupant must be independent of each other. All anchorages and restraints must be so designed that they do not cause any danger to other passengers
  6. the design of the vehicle must allow safe access and egress of passengers including elderly and disabled passengers
  7. the door and doorway must be constructed as to permit an unrestricted opening across the doorway of at least 75cm
  8. the clear height of the doorway must not be less than 1.2 metres
  9. wheelchair access may be from the rear or the side of the vehicle
  10. grab handles must be placed at one or more passenger door entrances as appropriate, to assist the elderly and disabled. Grab handles must be in a contrasting colour
  11. at the main access door into the passenger area of the vehicle, steps shall be provided to aid ingress/egress as follows:
  •  where the internal floor height of the vehicle exceeds 300mm an intermediate step shall be fitted every 250mm from road level up to the internal floor height. All steps must be capable of supporting a minimum weight of 150kg
  • the tread area of all steps must have a minimum depth of 150mm and shall have a slip resistant surface. All steps, both internally and externally shall have all open edges highlighted in a contrasting high-visibility colour
  • not be capable of operation when the vehicle is in motion
  • if automatic powered, be fitted with a safety device which stops the motion of the step if that motion could cause injury to the passenger
  • can fold or retract so that it does not project beyond the side face of the vehicle and the vehicle is not capable of being driven away unless the step is so folded or retracted

12. a means of illuminating the entrance step at all access doors shall be fitted and switched such that they operate automatically when a door is opened

13. the vertical distance between the highest part of the floor and the roof in the wheelchair passenger area must be no less than 1.3 metres

14.  a ramp for the loading of a wheelchair and occupant must be available at all times for use at either the nearside or offside passenger door. The ramp must have a safety lip, be at least 70cm wide as a minimum, and comprise a single non-slip surface. The ramp shall have a visible reference to safe working load of 250 kgs and certified to BS 6109. Provision must be made for the ramp to be stowed safely when not in use

15. where seats are placed facing each other, there must be a minimum space of 42.5cm between any part of the front seat and any part of any other seat which faces it, provided there is adequate leg room.

16. where all seats are placed facing to the front of the vehicle, there must be a clear space of at least 66cm in front of every part of each seat squab, measured along a horizontal plane at the centre of the cushion

17. when fitted occasional seats must be at least 40cm in width and the distance from the back of the upholstery to the front edge of the seat must not be less than 35.5cm

18. occasional seats must be so arranged as to rise automatically when not in use. They must be placed at least 4cm apart. When not in use, they must not obstruct doorways

19. suitable means must be provided to assist persons to rise from the rear seat with particular attention to the needs of the elderly and disabled

20.  colour contrasting sight patches are required on all passenger seats

21.  an induction loop system or (equivalent) must be fitted and clearly signed

22.  a swivel facility may be fitted to the nearside rear tip seat to assist disabled passengers

23.  every vehicle must be provided with an approved means of communication between the passenger and the driver. If a sliding window is fitted on the glazed partition, the maximum width of the opening must not exceed 12cm

24.  where a single-piece glazed partition is fitted, a facility must be provided for making payment to the driver

Section F - Specification for new or replacement wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles

The vehicle must comply fully with Section A and E and the applicable parts of Section B of the preceding specifications.