Assessing an application for a taxi operator licence

When you are applying for a taxi operator’s licence (TOL), the most important consideration is based on whether you can fulfil the role without posing any threat to the general safety of the public. If you are not considered ‘fit and proper’, your application will be refused.

Guidelines for assessment

When assessing your application, the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) has a set of guidelines which it has to apply to make sure that there is a consistent approach. However, these guidelines are not exhaustive or definitive and each application will be considered on its own merits.

The guidelines are based on the following criteria:

  • your business repute
  • your right to live and work in the UK
  • any other TOL applications
  • radio licences
  • insurance
  • VAT and accounts

Proving you are ‘fit and proper’ to hold a TOL

Your history and previous business experience might affect your application to become a taxi operator. Consideration is given to any criminal history, any previous applications to be a taxi operator, any history of bankruptcy or of disqualification. To be licensed as a taxi operator, you will need to prove that you are ‘fit and proper’, or if you are applying as a company or a partnership, you will need to prove that all the individuals who make up that firm are ‘fit and proper’ . Your application must be accompanied by a Basic Disclosure Certificate for each named person. You can get this from Access NI.

When your AccessNI check is completed, if you have no criminal history, you’ll receive a digital disclosure certificate. You can view the certificate from your nidirect account. To send a copy of your digital certificate to DVA, choose the share button on your nidirect account and include the address ptld.tol@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk . When you share your disclosure certificate with the DVA, it’s only available to view for three days.

If the certificate shows a criminal history you’ll receive a printed certificate by post. This should be sent to:

PTLD County Hall

Castlerock Road

Waterside

Coleraine

BT51 3HS

It will only be returned if you provide a prepaid self-addressed envelope, otherwise it will be securely destroyed on your behalf.

Right to Work

When applying for a taxi operator licence you must have a right to work within the UK. The Immigration Act 2016 requires the Department for Infrastructure to be satisfied that you have a right to work in the UK before a licence can be granted.

To prove your right to work in the UK, your application must include original documents from Lists A and B of Annex A in the 'Guidance for the Department for Infrastructure to prevent illegal working in the taxi sector in Northern Ireland' and also be available to attend an interview with Passenger Transport Licensing Division in Coleraine.

Radio licences

If you communicate with your affiliated drivers by a two-way radio or you use a computerised booking despatch system, you will need a business radio licence issued by Ofcom (Office of Communications). Application forms are available from:

Ofcom (Office of Communications) NI
2nd Floor Landmark House
5 Cromac Quay
The Gasworks
Ormeau Road
Belfast
BT7 2JD

Telephone: 0300 123 3333

Licensed taxi operators cannot use CB radios in connection with their taxi business.

Insurance

You will need Employer’s Liability Insurance, and if your operating centre is open to the public you will also need Public Liability Insurance.

Employer’s Liability Insurance

Employers’ liability cover is a legal requirement for most employers and enables businesses to meet the costs of compensation and legal fees for employees who are injured or who are made ill at work through the fault of the employer. The policy should have a minimum indemnity of £5million for any one event.

Public Liability Insurance

For any operating centre that is accessible to the public, the taxi operator must have an insurance policy against public liability risks which provides a minimum indemnity of £5million for any one event.

VAT and accounts

If you are registered for VAT you will need to enclose your VAT Registration Certificate with your application, or an acknowledgement from HMRC that you have applied for VAT registration and then present the registration certificate to the DVA whenever HMRC issues it.

If you or your partnership is not VAT registered you will have to provide alternative evidence that your business tax obligations are in order:

  • if you are a sole trader you will have to give your last HMRC self-assessment
  • if you are starting a business or becoming self-employed you will have to give confirmation from HMRC that you have registered for self-assessment
  • if in a partnership, each partner must give a copy of their HMRC self-assessment and partnership tax return
  • if in a new partnership, each partner must send proof of registration for self-assessment and registration of the partnership for business taxes

If you choose not to prepare formal accounts you still need to keep records of income and spending over a set accounting period. You may need to produce these.

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