Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Hackney Carriage and Private Hire licensing FAQ

Last updated 14/05/2020.

The Licensing Team understands that these are extremely challenging times for the hackney carriage and private hire trade. The following information is intended to answer some of the frequently asked questions in light of the Coronavirus outbreak.

How do I contact the Licensing Team during this period?

Officers within the Licensing Team are following government and Council advice relating to the Coronavirus in terms of working arrangements, social-distancing and, where appropriate, self-isolation.

We will not be meeting face-to-face with any applicants or licence holders and therefore all applicants and licence holders are asked to make any enquiries via email to [email protected].

Can I still work as a taxi or private hire driver?

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), “taxis and private hire vehicles can continue to work. But the advice is absolutely clear - people should stay at home if possible". On 12th May 2020, the government published guidance relating to safer travel in taxis and private hire vehicles during the coronavirus outbreak. It is important that you review and implement the guidance accordingly.

Will the Council be automatically extending my licence?

The council cannot automatically extend the period of a licence beyond any statutory timeframes. Driver and vehicle licences therefore still need to be renewed prior to the expiry date in every instance.

How do I apply to renew my licence?

Renewal applications must be made electronically during this period. You should attach scans or photographs of any relevant documents and email them to: [email protected]

Can I continue to work even if my renewed licence has not been issued?

Yes. Provided the relevant applications have been duly made before the relevant expiry date, you may continue to operate (even if you are not in possession of the renewed licence).

How do I pay for an application?

Any payments will need to be made online here (select ‘Licensing’ and provide the relevant licence details). Alternatively, you can call 01609 779977 but please be aware that there may be some delays, depending on staff availability.

Will there be a discount on the licence fee?

Licence fees are calculated on a cost-recovery basis and therefore cannot be influenced by the earnings of the trade. However, the Council has decided to freeze its hackney carriage and private hire licensing fees for a fourth successive year in order to ease the burden on new and existing licence holders.

What support is available to assist with any financial losses?

The government has made a number of assurances in terms of financial support to businesses and individuals affected by the outbreak. Further information in this regard can be found here.

I do not intend to work during this period. Can I cancel my insurance to save money?

If you are not using the vehicle, you may decide to cancel your insurance (or amend it to remove private and public hire purposes from the cover). You should contact your insurers directly before making any decisions in this regard to ensure that you are aware of any legal and financial implications. Please bear in mind that it is an offence to drive a vehicle without the appropriate insurance cover.

If you do cancel your insurance policy (or temporarily remove private/public hire from the cover), you must inform the Council immediately via [email protected] and your licence will be suspended until you are ready to resume work. The suspension will be lifted when you provide an insurance certificate with the appropriate cover.

The government has extended the due dates of all MOTs by six months. Does this apply to my licensed vehicle?

Yes. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has indicated that MOT due dates will be automatically extended by six months (for cars with an MOT due date after 30 March 2020). The Council has decided to apply the same extensions in respect of licensed vehicles and therefore MOTs will not be required until the revised due date.

What should I do if my licensed vehicle is due a mechanical inspection while social-distancing rules are in place?

Garages are currently permitted to remain open but the Council acknowledges that some have closed and, in any case, it may be difficult for proprietors to make arrangements for testing their vehicles whilst abiding by social-distancing rules. With that in mind, no action will be taken against any proprietors if mechanical inspections become overdue during this period. However, road traffic laws and licence conditions impose strict obligations on proprietors and therefore no vehicle should be used for private or public hire purposes unless it is mechanically fit.

In any case, all outstanding inspections will need to be carried out when the social-distancing rules have been relaxed.

If you are using any licensed vehicles to carry out journeys under the terms of a contract (e.g. with North Yorkshire County Council), you will need to contact the relevant parties to establish whether or not mechanical inspections still need to be carried out in respect of these vehicles.

Can I apply for a new driver licence?

Due to the difficulties involved in obtaining medical assessments and sitting knowledge tests, it will not be possible to obtain a new driver’s licence until the government’s restrictions are relaxed. If a new application is received, it will remain pending until all obligations can be satisfied. Certain documents (like criminal record checks and medical assessments) will no longer be valid if they are four months old at the time that the application is complete. On that basis, any new applicants would be urged to wait until government advice changes before making an application.

Where can I find more information relating to Covid-19 and social-distancing?

The latest information and advice on the Coronavirus can be found here.

We sincerely hope that all drivers, proprietors and operators stay safe during this difficult time.