Travelling with guide dogs
Find out about the duties that drivers and operators of taxis have towards assistance dog users.
Duty to carry
The drivers of taxis (both public and private hire) are under a duty to carry any guide, hearing or certain other assistance dogs in their vehicles. They are not supposed to charge extra for this.
Public hire taxis
Public hire taxis may have a taxi sign on the roof and a plate (yellow or white) to the front and rear of the vehicle showing that they are licensed to carry passengers. They can be hailed on the street, picked up at ranks or pre-booked.
Private hire taxis
Private hire taxis will also have a roof sign and display green plates. They must always be booked in advance. Taxibuses which operate a stage carriage service in certain areas of Belfast are licensed as private hire and display blue plates.
What types of dog are covered
The following types of dog are covered:
- guide dogs - those trained by the organisation, Guide Dogs
- hearing dogs - those trained by Hearing Dogs
- other assistance dogs - those trained by Dogs for the Disabled, Support Dogs or Canine Partners to assist other people with disabilities
Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers have been told how to identify these animals. This is why guide dogs should wear a harness and other assistance dogs a jacket with the name of the charity that trained them. If an identification card was issued for the dog, this should also be carried.
Dogs should remain on the floor and under control at all times. If your dog does cause any damage to the vehicle, the driver could ask you to pay for it.
What if a taxi operator/depot refuses to take a booking?
If a taxi operator/depot fails or refuses to accept a booking from you, they will be committing an offence and could be fined up to £1,000.
This also applies if they refuse a booking requested by someone who wishes to travel with you. An offence is also committed if the reason for refusal is because you would have been accompanied by an assistance dog.
What if a taxi driver won't take my dog?
A driver who refuses to carry your dog, or makes a charge for doing so, is guilty of an offence and could be fined up to £1,000.
Who is exempt?
A small number of drivers will be exempt from this duty. Drivers of taxis who can prove to their licensing authority that they have a medical condition, such as severe asthma, which is aggravated by contact with dogs, will have been given an exemption certificate.
A driver who has been granted an exemption will display a yellow ‘Notice of Exemption’ on the near side of the windscreen of their vehicle. The front of the notice will have the letters ‘ED’ (Exemption Dogs) and will show the driver’s licence number.
There are no exemptions available for operators.
You should report any problem or refusal to carry your dog to the local licensing authority. In Northern Ireland this is the Road Transport Licensing Division, which is part of the Driver & Vehicle Agency.Road Transport Licensing Division
148/158 Corporation Street
- phone: 028 9025 4100.
'Right of access'
The ‘right of access’ all people with disabilites have to goods, services and facilities has now been extended to transport services.
As well as the duty to carry assistance dogs, public and private hire taxi drivers must also ensure that they do not discriminate against you, treat you less favourably or fail to make a reasonable adjustment to their service.