Skip to content

COVID-19: Licensing Advice – Taxi and Private Hire

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to develop, we are keeping the matter under review, following government advice, and updating our own business continuity arrangements to ensure we can continue to deliver our licensing service and to enable firms, vehicles and drivers to continue providing vital public transport where it is safe to do so.

We have collated the current advice on taxi and private hire licensing below. The situation is constantly changing so some of this information may be subject to change without notice. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience at this time.

New driver applications and knowledge tests

We are still prioritising renewal applications but we are now able to take applications for new driver licences from applicants who have passed the knowledge test. If this applies to you, please submit your new driver licence application and supporting documents through our online portal using the badge number 001. You will then be contacted to arrange an appointment to apply for your enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service disclosure once we have checked and verified your application. See our new driver applications page for more information on this.

If you wish to take a knowledge test, please email us at licensing.unit@whitehorsedc.gov.uk with the subject ‘Knowledge test request’ making sure to include your full name and mobile phone number, and we will be in touch when we are able to process your booking.

We will confirm here when we have any further updates.

Guidance on applications

In line with government advice, officers are working from home as much as possible. Our offices are closed to the public, so please do not attempt to make the trip to drop off any paperwork, payments etc.

Please see below for specific guidance by licence type, including details of how to apply both online and by email. If you cannot apply by any of the routes detailed, please contact us to discuss.

As we are very busy trying to process as many applications as possible, please do not contact us unless it is absolutely necessary. In the first instance, please check the website for any updates or changes to procedures.

Renewal applications will be prioritised by expiry date. We will do our best to process your application as quickly as possible but please bear in mind it will very likely take longer than usual. If your licence does lapse, you will be unlicensed and you must not carry out licensable activities until you have received a new licence/badge/plate. For driver badges and operator licences, we would suggest you apply at least 6 weeks before the expiry of your licence (or 12 weeks if you will need to do a DBS application) and for vehicle plates at least 15 working days before expiry. 

If you have an application pending with us and need to submit additional documents, please do this via email and ensure you include your badge/plate number in the subject of the email to assist us in linking it with your application.

Contacting the team

  • In the first instance, please use email to contact us. Our email address licensing.unit@whitehorsedc.gov.uk will be monitored throughout the day and we will respond as soon as we are able.
  • If you do not have access to email, please call us on 01235 422556. It is likely that we will not be able to take your call at the time, so please be prepared to leave a message with your name, phone number and the reason for your call.
  • We will try to return any calls and respond to emails within 5 working days, which is our usual response target.

Medicals

There has been no advice from the government on taxi driver medicals. We are aware that some drivers may face difficulties with getting medicals done if their GP surgery is not carrying out non-urgent appointments.  

If you would like us to consider an extension to your medical expiry date, please email us a completed medical declaration form. Please note that any drivers who require annual medicals (which includes all drivers over the age of 65) are unlikely to be granted any extensions. In addition, extensions will only be considered in the following circumstances:

  • If your own GP surgery is not currently doing medicals (we may request something in writing from your GP surgery if this is the case), AND
  • You have contacted other doctors (registered with the GMC) to see if they are able to carry out the medicals. NB the doctor completing your medical must have access to your full medical records and they will need to confirm this at the time the medical is carried out.

On receipt of the form and supporting documentation, an officer will review your records and confirm whether we will grant an extension. 

All licensed drivers are required to inform us of a material change to their medical status and this would include testing positive for COVID-19. For the safety of licence holders and the general public it will be necessary for us to temporarily suspend the licence of any driver that tests positive for COVID-19. However, no action will be required by licence holders to have their licence reinstated once the isolation period has ended and they can return to normal activities.

Compliance tests and insurance

All vehicles are still required to have compliance tests as usual, and new insurance documents should still be provided to us prior to the expiry date. Failure to keep up to date with either of these may lead to the suspension of your vehicle licence. Compliance test and insurance reminders are now being sent by email, so please ensure we have an up to date email address for you at all times.

All of our compliance test centres remain open.

Insurance documents should be forwarded to us by emailing showing the thread from your broker or insurer.

Precautions for driver and passenger safety

The government have published COVID-19 guidance for taxis and private hire vehicles with actions that you can take to protect against coronavirus.

In addition:

Use of partitions or screens in vehicles

We have created guidance on how to seek approval for the installation of a partition or screen

Guidance

You may find the following links useful:

Support

The government has recently put in place measures to support businesses affected by the virus. There are grants and loans available as part of this package, please use the following links for more information:

If you’re a local business owner you can also contact our South and Vale Business Support team.

We recognise these are challenging and uncertain times and would encourage anyone struggling with their mental health and wellbeing or financial difficulties to seek help from the broad range of support available including:

Driver licence renewals – important note

If you meet the following criteria, and have unlimited leave to remain in the UK, the licence will be granted for the usual 3 year period:

  • You have a DBS with this council as the countersignatory, signed up to the DBS Update Service, and you are able to send us a scan of the full DBS disclosure, and
  • We have satisfactory proof of current right to work in the UK on your file from a previous application.

If you meet the above criteria and have limited leave to remain and work in the UK, subject to us being able to confirm any required checks with the Home Office, the licence will be granted either to the visa expiry date, or to a date as advised by the Home Office.

If you do not meet the above criteria, we will contact you to make arrangements to submit a DBS application and/or complete a Right to Work check. See our driver licence renewals page for more information on this.

In some limited cases we may be able to issue a temporary licence for 3 months, but this will only be once the application is completed and all legislative requirements have been met. Such applications will be reviewed on a case by case basis by officers.

Vehicle licences – important note

For any change of vehicle applications, you will need to return the plate to the office by post (we recommend using recorded or special delivery) before we can process the application. As soon as you remove the plate, the vehicle will no longer be able to be used for hire and reward purposes (for hackney carriages, please also remove the roof sign). You cannot use the new vehicle for hire and reward until you receive the new licence and plate.

If you wish to apply for a plate exemption and apply via the portal, an officer will contact you to arrange payment of the fee as it is not currently possible to pay this licence fee online.

Online applications portal

We have created an online portal through which you can submit driver (renewal only), vehicle and operator applications.

This portal will allow you to upload your signed application form and any supporting documents, and to pay the required fee online. The portal should work via any smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC with internet access.

Applications submitted through the online portal will be prioritised as these applications should be complete at the point of receipt, rather than emailed applications which will require an officer to call you to take payment.

Important note – If too many large files are uploaded it may exceed the maximum size that the system can email to us. If you have difficulties uploading all your documents and do not receive a confirmation email from us (separate from your receipt) with your uploaded files attached then please contact us at licensing.unit@whitehorsedc.gov.uk 

How to apply online – drivers, vehicles and operators

  • You will need to print off the application form and complete as normal, including signing and dating the form. Please take care to complete the application form in full. Any incomplete or illegible applications will be rejected and will not be processed.
  • You need to scan this application and any supporting documents. If you do not have access to a scanner, you could try to photograph each page of the form but please note it must be clear and legible or we will not be able to process it.
  • Upload the application and any supporting documents at the online portal and pay the required fee with a debit/credit card
  • You will receive a receipt via email, so please ensure you give your correct email address
  • Once we have a completed application and payment, we will process your application. We will post any licences and badges/plates out to you by first class recorded delivery (someone will need to be in to sign for this) except operator licences, which will be sent by email. You will not be able to collect any items from the office.

How to apply by email – drivers, vehicles and operators

  • You will need to print off the application form and complete as normal, including signing and dating the form. Please take care to complete the application form in full. Any incomplete or illegible applications will be rejected and will not be processed.
  • Scan the application form and any supporting documents and email all of these to us at licensing.unit@whitehorsedc.gov.uk with any supporting documents. If you do not have access to a scanner, you could try to photograph each page of the form but please note it must be clear and legible or we will not be able to process it. Please try to send all the required documents in just one email if possible, as sending multiple emails can lead to our email system thinking your emails are ‘spam’ which results in them going to our junk mail folder.
  • When we are ready to process your application, we will call you to take payment over the phone. If there are any issues with the phone payment system, you will be required to send us a cheque made payable to Vale of White Horse District Council.
  • Once we have a completed application and payment, we will process your application. We will post any licences and badges/plates out to you by first class recorded delivery (someone will need to be in to sign for this) except operator licences, which will be sent by email. You will not be able to collect any items from the office.

Contact us - Licensing

01235 422556
(Text phone users add 18001 before dialing)

Vale of White Horse District Council
135 Eastern Avenue
Milton Park
Milton
OX14 4SB