Changes for taxi drivers and operators

From 31 May 2016, the way taxi drivers and operators license and use their taxis changed.

Changes

A new taxi licence test replaced the current Public Service Vehicle (PSV) test. There are new classes of taxis, a new maximum fare structure, the introduction of taximeters and printers, and new style roof signs.

New taxi classes

There are four new classes of taxi licence. These are explained in the table below.

There is a designated Belfast Zone that restricts Class A permitted use on certain days and at certain times. This is an area of roughly a two mile radius from Belfast city centre.

New Class Current licences this affects How the taxi can be used
Class A Taxis currently licensed as ‘Private Hire’ and ‘Public Hire Outside Belfast’ will automatically become Class A

Outside the Belfast Zone, Class A taxis will be able to ply for hire, carry passengers for hire or reward and stand at taxi stands.

Within the Belfast Zone, Class A taxis can carry passengers for hire and reward, and there will be specified days and hours when they can also ply for hire and reward.

Class B Taxis currently licensed as ‘Belfast Public Hire’ will automatically become Class B Class B taxis will be wheelchair accessible, permitted to ply for hire or reward, carry passengers for hire or reward and stand at taxi stands throughout Northern Ireland.
Class C Taxis currently licensed as ‘Private Hire’ and only used for weddings and funerals will automatically become Class C

Class C taxis can only be used on a pre-booked basis and must carry details of their booking in the taxi during the journey. Class C taxis must not display a roof sign or advertise as a taxi service but must display an internal sign.

Examples of Class C taxis are vehicles used for chauffeur services, weddings, funerals and courtesy transport.

Class D Taxis currently licensed as a ‘Taxibus’ will automatically become Class D

Class D are taxi buses, permitted to operate only on prescribed routes when issued with a Road Service Licence or a DfI permit. In certain circumstances, taxis can be used for executive or tour services. Class D taxis do not need to display roof signs but must display internal signs.

New taxi licence test

A taxi licence test replaced the PSV test.

Drivers applying for a test

The Department for Infrastructure  will only accept applications for the new taxi licence test. 

Changes to the taxi licence test process

There are additional test requirements when presenting a vehicle for a taxi licence test. With the new system:

  • proof of valid insurance must be presented at the beginning of the test, or else the vehicle will fail
  • when the vehicle passes the test, DfI will issue either a new style taxi plate or an internal taxi sign (depending on what class of licence has been applied for)
  • Class A and B taxis must have a new style roof sign, approved taximeter and printer

Taximeters and printers

Must fit approved taximeters and printers by law

From 31 May 2016 all Private Hire (green plates) and Public Hire Outside Belfast (white plates) taxis automatically moved to the Class A category of Taxi Licence.  Belfast Public Hire (yellow plate) taxis moved to the Class B category.  From this date it is a legal requirement for all Class A and B taxis to have an approved taximeter, fare program and printer fitted.  

General requirements

The requirement to have a taximeter fitted, tested and sealed is based on when your first taxi licence is due (formerly the PSV licence).  Also:

•   all owners of Class A and B taxis should have an approved taximeter with an approved programme (checksum) and printer fitted in their taxi

  • if you operate without an approved taximeter and printer you are at risk of enforcement action - including a Fixed Penalty Notice or prosecution
  • you will not be able to have a taxi licence (vehicle) test conducted unless you have successfully done your taximeter test - you should therefore make sure that you allow enough time to have your taximeter tested and sealed before your taxi licence test is due
  • ​all taxis issued with a Class A or B taxi licence must have a sealed taximeter - if you work without a sealed taximeter you are at risk of enforcement action including a Fixed Penalty Notice or prosecution

Sealing the taximeter

If your current PSV licence (white, green or yellow plate) is valid up to 31 May 2017, you must have an approved taximeter, tariff program and printer fitted in the vehicle.  

You should have your taximeter tested and sealed before you apply for a new taxi (vehicle) licence. To have your taximeter tested and sealed, you will need to apply to the DVA using the new Taximeter Test Application form (TL2) below. This test will cost £35 and can be carried out at any DVA test centre.  

You may not need a further taximeter test if the inhibitor function is working and the seals remain intact (see below).    This inhibitor function stops the taximeter from working when the printer has no paper in it or the printer is not working properly.  

Changes to the maximum fare

A new Northern Ireland wide maximum fare structure is in place for Class A and Class B taxis. Taximeters must be programmed to operate within this.

The department was approached by public and private hire drivers who were concerned at the proposals for both the lack of adequately enhanced rates at Christmas and New Year and the reduced waiting time rate being introduced. 

As a result of the concerns raised, the Maximum Fare Schedule was amended.  The new rate is to encourage supply and adequately compensate taxi drivers for providing a service at these times. To read maximum fare structure, go to:

The new fare was sent to all known taximeter manufacturers at the beginning of April 2017.  All previously approved taximeter programmes listed on the Department’s Approved Taximeter List remain valid. 

For the fare card, go to:

Changing the taximeter fare tariff 

When a taxi operator changes the fare tariff program in the taximeter, that taximeter must be presented to DVA for a further taximeter test.  Operators that need a taximeter test should follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the new tariff program is approved by the DVA before you send in the application for a Taximeter Test (TL2) 
  2. Send in the completed application form (TL2) and fee to the test centre where the test is taking place
  3. When you receive the appointment date and time, make arrangements to have the taximeter reprogrammed for the date of the taximeter test (once the taximeter has been updated with the new tariff program you will not be able to ply for hire or reward until the taximeter test has successfully taken place and the taximeter has been sealed)

Taxi fleet operators should contact the DVA three months before the taximeter test dates to make sure DVA has enough time to plan for the delivery of a high volume of tests.  

A new taximeter fare card must be prominently displayed and can be collected from all DVA centres or downloaded below:

Changing the registration number 

If you change the registration number on your vehicle (also known as 'cherished transfer'), you can change your taxi licence to match the new registration number using the transfer of registration on a taxi vehicle form V36T.

If your vehicle is a Class A or B taxi, you will need to have your taximeter updated to get the new registration number printed on the customer receipt. You will need to book a new taximeter test to have your meter tested, sealed, and a new plaque fitted by filling in an application for a Taximeter Test (TL2). This is to make sure that the taximeter is legal, and that the vehicle passes its next annual licensing inspection.

Roof sign requirements

A new style roof sign is required before a vehicle is submitted for its test.

Taxi class Display requirements
Class A Taxi plates must be displayed on a new style roof sign from the date of your next vehicle test
Class B Taxi plates must be displayed on a new style roof sign from the date of your next vehicle test. A wheelchair symbol must also be displayed
Class C Taxis must display a small internal sign. They cannot display roof signs or advertise as a taxi service
Class D Taxis must display an internal sign. They do not have to display roof signs

Classes A and B

All Class A and B taxis require a roof sign, including London-style taxis. They shall:

  • be a minimum of 125mm high
  • be capable of holding a plate which:​
  1. can be readily removed without damage to the roof sign, plate or vehicle component
  2. can be fixed to the nearside front and nearside rear of the roof sign so that it is not projecting higher, lower or longer than the roof sign
  • be fitted so as not to cause danger to anyone
  • be mounted centrally and positioned transversely when viewed from the front of the vehicle
  • not overhang the roof or measure less than 750mm across but may occupy the breadth of the roof
  • not project more than 250mm above the highest part of the roof
  • be illuminated internally during the hours of darkness to show a steady light to the front and rear
  • be fused at source against electrical short circuits
  • not cause dazzle or discomfort to other road users

In Class A taxis

  • the front of the roof sign shall have a yellow background and in clear and legible black letters, display the name or trading name of the licensed operator or the word 'Taxi'
  • the rear of the roof sign shall have a yellow background and in clear and legible black letters, display a telephone number or the word 'Taxi'

In Class B taxis

  • the front of the roof sign shall have a white background and in clear and legible black letters, display the name or trading name of the licensed operator or the word 'Taxi'
  • the rear of the roof sign shall have a yellow background and in clear and legible black letters, display a telephone number or the word 'Taxi'
  • the roof sign must display a wheelchair logo which shall be:
  1. coloured black and printed onto the roof sign or on another transparent material which can be illuminated from behind
  2. 125mm wide and 125mm tall, and be placed at the offside front and offside rear of the roof sign so that it is not projecting higher, lower and longer than the roof sign

Additional information

For more information on the new taxi licence test requirements, grandfather rights, M1 type approval and Voluntary Individual Vehicle Approval (VIVA), go to: 

More useful links

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