Taxis and private hire services
In Northern Ireland taxi licensing is a function of the Department of the Environment, carried out through the Driver and Vehicle Agency.
Public hire taxis, those displaying yellow or white plates are licensed to be hired immediately - you can get one at a rank or hail one in the street, although taxis displaying white plates are restricted to operating in areas outside a five mile radius of Belfast city centre.
Yellow plated taxis are required to be wheelchair accessible must also have taximeters installed and checked and their fares are regulated by the Department of the Environment.
This is the only category of licensed taxi that is subject to fare regulation in Northern Ireland.
Private hire taxis - those displaying green plates - are licensed only to collect passengers who have pre-booked.
Taxis displaying blue plates operate in a similar manner to buses - charging passengers individual fares and restricted to designated routes.
Public and private hire taxis operators must ensure the vehicles and their drivers are licensed to meet legal requirements.
Both public and private hire taxis including limousines have a maximum of eight passenger seats.
The Department of the Environment as the regulatory body has the power to determine in respect of public and private hire vehicles:
- the type or types of vehicle which they are prepared to license
- the stringency and frequency of vehicle testing (above any statutory requirementsthat all vehicles must meet)
- whether a taximeter is required
- requirements on accessibility for disabled people
- suitable in type, size and design for use
- if the vehicles are suitably insured
Is your driver licensed?
In order to grant a taxi driver licence, the licensing authority must be satisfied that an applicant is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.
The Department decides what elements to include in assessing whether applicants are fit and proper, but the assessment would normally involve:
- a criminal record check
- a medical check
All taxi drivers should normally wear a badge showing their licence number.