Changes for taxi drivers and operators

From 31 May 2016, the way taxi drivers and operators license and use their taxis changed. 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 taxibuses, 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 new taxi licence test has replaced the PSV test.

Drivers applying for a test

The Department for Infrastructure  will only accept applications for the new taxi licence test. The application form is available here:

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 programme 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 programme 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.  

The taximeter test application form is available to download here:

Taximeter inhibitor requirement and related repeat taximeter tests (1 March 2017 onwards)

From 31 May 2016 a taxi fare charging system, which includes an approved taximeter, printer and tariff programme, was accepted on the basis that the system included an inhibitor function.  This inhibitor function stops the taximeter from working when the printer has no paper in it or the printer is not working properly.  

This original inhibitor requirement was removed on 10 October 2016 and reinstated on 1 March 2017, with many taximeters being legitimately tested and sealed between these dates with no inhibitor function.  These taximeters may continue to be used until 31 March 2019 provided the settings and seals remain intact.  

However, where DVA confirm that a taximeter has been tested and sealed between 31 August 2016 and 1 March 2017 with the inhibitor function inoperative and that function has been activated after 28 February 2017,  DVA will provide one repeat taximeter test free of charge.

These repeat tests will take place from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2019. Effected taxi owners may apply for a free taximeter test by filling in an ‘Application for a Repeat Taximeter Test’ (get this via the link below or from your local DVA Test Centre) and send this in along with a new application for a Taximeter Test (TL2)

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.

The new fare was circulated to all known taximeter manufacturers at the beginning of April.  All previously approved taximeter programmes listed on the Department’s Approved Taximeter List remain valid.  Similarly the Department’s Fare Card has been updated and can be accessed at the link below:

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

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

More information on the new taxi licence test requirements, including information on grandfather rights and M1 type approval, is available at the link below.

More useful links

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