Taxi vehicle test

You must do a taxi licence test before you can drive your vehicle as a taxi on public roads. You need to apply online for a taxi licence at least six weeks before a taxi licence is needed.

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid 19) pandemic, taxis which are licenced may receive an automatic renewal. You can find more information about these vehicles on the Coronavirus (Covid 19) and motoring page.

Applying for a taxi licence

You can apply for a taxi vehicle licence (TVL) or make changes to an existing licence online. Paper applications are no longer accepted.

Taxi Vehicle Licence - Covid-19

Taxi vehicle licences have been automatically renewed for vehicles entitled to a free of charge licence extension for a maximum of one year. 

Only taxis that have been previously tested and issued with a taxi licence will be eligible under the temporary arrangements.

The licence  allows you to continue to use your taxi vehicle, for the period of the licence, without the need for a vehicle test.

The licence is issued under licensing conditions, including making sure that the licensed taxi has not had any changes or alterations which has reduced its roadworthiness.

It is a legal requirement for the owner of any licensed taxi to tell the taxi licensing team of any changes or alterations.

Vehicles that have already received a free licence extension will receive a reminder before the licence expiry date to allow time for applicants to apply online and book their PSV test date.

Taximeter test

Class A and B taxis need a taximeter test before the taxi vehicle test can be booked.

For new taximeters, the taximeter must be approved, tested and be sealed by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) before an annual taxi vehicle test appointment can be booked.

Where a taximeter has been changed or repaired, or where the seal is damaged, the taximeter must have a taximeter test.

Because of Coronavirus (Covid-19), an examiner cannot travel on-board a taxi to do the test. DVA has developed a temporary enhanced taximeter test that keeps to social distancing.

Taximeter tests are being carried out at Airport Road West in Belfast and within Campsie Industrial Estate in Londonderry.

To apply  for a taximeter test you should email   dva.customerservices@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk  

Emails must include the title ‘taximeter test’ in the email header.

The DVA will contact you to arrange a taximeter test and take the fee payment after  they receive  your application form.

Vehicle requirements

Any vehicle used to carry passengers for payment must undergo a taxi licence test that is more detailed than the annual MOT test.  If the vehicle is constructed to carry eight passengers or less plus the driver, it is classed as a taxi.

Vehicles with more than eight passenger seats are classed as buses.

Passenger transport vehicles must be licensed before being used on public roads as taxis. Applications for taxi licences should be made at least six weeks before a taxi licence is required.

Whilst the majority of vehicles used to transport passengers for payment are genuine and meet the legal rules, some are illegal.

Test requirements (general)

Vehicles presented for a taxi licence test will be given a roadworthiness (MOT type) inspection that will include:

  • a maximum of eight passenger seats
  • a suitable fire extinguisher mounted and readily available for use
  • a suitable spare wheel and the tools to fit it - a post puncture repair kit is acceptable where the original vehicle has not been supplied with the facility to carry a spare wheel
  • if a Class A taxi, a roof sign with a yellow background to the front and rear
  • if a Class B taxi, a roof sign with a white background to the front and a yellow background to the rear
  • a Class B taxi should show the wheelchair accessibility logo on the roof sign and on the wheelchair access door
  • a permanent top and two doors located on each side
  • valid taxi insurance
  • if Class A or B an approved taxi meter fitted and sealed by the DVA

The inspection will also look at axle weight, the tyre load capacity, and the seating plan format. This is not an exhaustive list. For more information you can contact any DVA test centre.

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

Rules for Class C Taxis can be found further down this page.

Covid-19 screens/ partitions fitted to buses or taxis

To protect drivers and the public fitting, you may want to fit some form of partition or screen. If a screen is fitted it must satisfy certain rules.

A vehicle presented for inspection with a screen fitted, which wasn’t fitted when the vehicle was manufactured, must have evidence of suitability of the glazing material used or the vehicle will fail the test.

Screens will also be checked in other areas, such as how they affect the driver’s view of the road, condition, security, and whether there are any sharp edges or protrusions likely to injure a passenger.

Screen/ partition rules

Screen/ partition material

The partition/screen must be made of safety glass or safety glazing and should display a suitable approval marking.

Without a suitable approval marking, documentary evidence from the glazing maker/ supplier that confirms the material used is suitable for use in motor vehicles, must be produced.

This evidence must confirm that the glazing complies with the construction and use regulations or UNECE Regulation 43 (which refers to the acceptable type approval standards for glazing and safety glazing, including rigid and flexible plastic glazing used in motor vehicles) .

Foldable plastic screens (do not meet the ‘material’ or ‘air bag’ rules below)

There should be no rigid framing or supporting structure surrounding the screen.

The partition/ screen must be suitably secured for use in normal driving conditions (it is acceptable for these screens to be fixed with Velcro and/ or quick release push buttons).

The material must not pose a fire risk.

The partition/ screen must be transparent and not adversely affect the driver’s view of the road or distort or impair the view from interior or exterior mirrors.

Seating capacity

If the fitment of any screen affects the original seating capacity this will be taken into consideration during annual inspection and, where affected, the maximum seating capacity authorised for the vehicle may be reduced.

More rules for taxis fitted with an air bag system

Where the vehicle is fitted with an air bag system (may be identified via markings or labels on the steering wheel, front dash board, B-posts, seats, head rests, trim panels, roof and so on.) you must produce documentary evidence.

Evidence can be from the original vehicle manufacturer, type approval test house,  vehicle dealership, vehicle distributor, or professional vehicle converter. The evidence should confirm the screen or partition is suitable for fitment in the vehicle and will not adversely impact on the vehicle’s safety systems, such as the airbag deployment.

These documents must be vehicle specific and include make, model and registration number.

Class B specification

Class B taxis need to be wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs). Before buying a vehicle for use as a Class B taxi you should make sure it meets the rules below.

If your taxi meets the conditions below you will be able to take a test: Previously licenced as a Class B taxi or marked as “M1 WAV” in the registration certificate (V5c) next to “Vehicle Category”.

If neither of the above apply, DVA will need some extra documentary evidence confirming the specification of the vehicle. DVA are able to accept the documents below.

A certificate of conformity (CoC). This must state that the vehicle was built with the wheelchair features. This will be available from the vehicle manufacturer.

A national low volume approval certificate (for example, SUB-MAC). Where the approval number relates to a wheelchair accessible vehicle, the approval number will need to be checked with the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), to make sure the wheelchair features were included at the time of approval.

An Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) certificate. This must confirm that the vehicle had the wheelchair features fitted at the time of the inspection.

A “compliance confirmation notice” issued by either the DVA or the DVSA confirming the vehicle meets the standards needed for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. These are provided when you've successful done a Voluntary Individual Vehicle Approval (VIVA) test.

Where suitable documents as listed above cannot be provided, a vehicle may still be accepted for Class B by first passing a Voluntary Individual Vehicle Approval test.

Vehicles that go on to test and which are found to have been modified since the provided approval document was issued, will be refused a licence.

Class C

The Class C licensing rules, for vehicles under 3,500kg gross weight or under 2,540kg unladen weight, now allow certain specialist vehicles to be used to provide pre-booked taxi services. Acceptable features include:

  • left-hand drive
  • a convertible roof
  • two doors, provided one is located on the nearside and one is located on the offside or the rear

Also, these specialist vehicles don't have to be M1 type approved where they have not been altered since they were originally manufactured.

There are other rules for Class C taxis which are over 3,500kg gross weight or 2,540kg unladen weight, or which are constructed as stretched limousines.

Class C taxis being a Heavy Motor Car or having a MAM exceeding 3,500kg do not need to carry a spare wheel.

Left-hand drive stretched limousines

Regulations are in place to allow licensing of left-hand drive (LHD) stretched limousines as a Class C taxi, with seating for not more than eight passengers plus the driver. Further details are available at the link below:

Duplicate licences

The taxi vehicle licence is available to download at any time. If you need replacement plates or window labels, you can request and pay for them through your DVA Online account.

After the test

DVA will issue a Vehicle Inspection Notice after the test as confirmation that the vehicle has passed its roadworthiness test. DVA’s public transport Llcensing division (PTLD) will then send/ post the taxi plates, signs and licence to the licensee.

If you have any queries you can contact the taxi licensing section by:

Email:  PTLD.TVL@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

More useful links

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