Travelling by taxi with a disability
Information about using taxis in Northern Ireland if you have a disability or reduced mobility. This includes your rights when booking a taxi, travelling with an assistance/guide dog, fares, and how to make a complaint.
Taxis and assistance/guide dogs
Drivers of taxis are under a duty to carry any guide, hearing or certain other assistance dogs in their vehicles. They cannot charge extra for this.
Types of dog covered
The following types of dog are covered:
- guide dogs - those trained by the organisation Guide Dogs
- hearing dogs - those trained by Hearing Dogs
- other assistance dogs - those trained by Dogs for the Disabled, Support Dogs or Canine Partners to assist other people with disabilities
Taxi drivers have been told how to identify these animals. This is why guide dogs should wear a harness. Other assistance dogs should wear a jacket with the name of the charity that trained them.
If an identification card was issued for the dog, this should also be carried.
Dogs should stay on the floor of the taxi and under control at all times. If your dog does cause any damage to the vehicle, the driver could ask you to pay for it.
If a taxi operator/depot refuses to take a booking
If a taxi operator/depot fails or refuses to accept a booking from you, they will be committing an offence and could be fined up to £1,000.
This also applies if they refuse a booking requested by someone who wishes to travel with you. An offence is also committed if the reason for refusal is because you would have been accompanied by an assistance dog.
If a taxi driver won't take your dog
A driver who refuses to carry your dog, or makes a charge for doing so, is guilty of an offence and could be fined up to £1,000.
A small number of drivers will be free from this duty. Drivers of taxis who can prove to their licensing authority that they have a medical condition, such as severe asthma, which is aggravated by contact with dogs, will have been given an exemption certificate.
A driver who has been granted an exemption will display a yellow ‘Notice of Exemption’ on the near side of the windscreen of their vehicle. The front of the notice will have the letters ‘ED’ (Exemption Dogs) and will show the driver’s licence number.
There are no exemptions available for operators.
You should report any problem or refusal to carry your dog to the Passenger Transport Licensing Division (taxi licensing section) which is part of the Driver & Vehicle Agency.
'Right of access' to transport
The ‘right of access’ all people with disabilities have to goods, services and facilities has now been extended to transport services.
As well as the duty to carry assistance dogs, taxi drivers must also make sure they do not discriminate against you, treat you less favourably or fail to make a reasonable adjustment to their service.
Booking a taxi
If possible always pre-book your taxi. When you book:
- say what time you want the taxi
- say where you are and where you want to go
- ask how much the fare will be
Remember to always carry the number of a taxi company when you go out.
Using a taxi
Not all taxis are wheelchair accessible. Those that are have a wheelchair accessible logo on the front and back of roof signs.
You can hail some taxis from the street.
A licensed taxi driver must have an ID badge showing their photograph and badge number.
When being picked up, don’t give the driver your name - ask who they are collecting, as an unlicensed taxi driver may just agree to whatever name you tell them.
When using a taxi:
- you should always sit in the back
- if you want to chat, keep it to things like the weather
- you should always wear your seatbelt
Most taxis use taxi meters to work out the fare.
It is a good idea to check what the minimum fare is and make sure the taxi meter shows this amount before you set off. You should not be charged more than is shown on the taxi meter.
If the taxi does not have a taxi meter, ask the driver how much they think the fare will be.
Get your payment ready when you are near to where you're going.
Reduced fares are not available for older people and people with disabilities for taxi travel.
If you are not happy with how you have been treated, make your complaint to the taxi company.
Further information on the use of taxis can be found on the following page:
The Inclusive Mobility Transport Advisory Committee (Imtac) has a factsheet detailing more information about using taxis.