Operator licences for private hire vehicles

If you want to drive a private hire vehicle (PHV) in England and Wales you need to either:

  • get a PHV operator licence yourself
  • drive a PHV for a business which has a PHV operator licence

A PHV can only be pre-booked. Taxis can also be hired at a rank or hailed in the street.

Taxis only need a taxi vehicle licence and a taxi driver licence. But taxi drivers can do work booked by an operator.

PHV operator licences last for a maximum of 5 years.

You can be prosecuted if you receive payment for taking bookings or supply drivers for hire without an operator’s licence.

There’s a different process for operator licences in Northern Ireland and booking office licences in Scotland.


Apply to the licensing authority where your PHV business will operate. This is either:

You’ll have to pay a fee for the licence.

The driver licence, vehicle licence and operator licence all need to be issued by the same authority.

If your licence application is refused

The licensing authority can refuse your application if:

  • they’re not satisfied you meet their criteria of a ‘fit and proper person’
  • you do not accept the conditions the authority sets

If you disagree with their final decision, you can appeal to the magistrates’ court. You might need legal advice.

Renew your licence

Ask the licensing authority how to renew your operator licence.

You need to renew your licence before it expires or you will not be able to operate a PHV business.

When you renew your licence, you need to complete a tax check telling HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) how you pay tax on your earnings.