You need a public service vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence to:

  • operate a vehicle for hire or reward (payment or payment in kind) that can carry 9 or more passengers
  • operate a smaller vehicle carrying passengers and charging separate fares for the journey

Read PSV437, PSV operator licensing: a guide for operators.

Types of PSV licence

There are 4 types of PSV operator licences, plus special licensing rules in London.

Standard licence - national operations only

You can only operate in Great Britain if you apply for a standard licence. Most full-time commercial operators use standard licences.

Standard licence - national and international operations

This kind of licence lets you take passengers abroad as well as within Great Britain.

Restricted licence

You can only apply for a restricted licence for small-scale operations. They allow you to use 1 or 2 vehicles, and neither can carry more than 8 passengers.

You can carry up to 16 passengers in either vehicle if you do not use it as part of a passenger transport business, or you’re operating your vehicles as a sideline and not as your main job.

Special restricted licence

Special restricted licences are used to operate a licensed taxi on a local service. You can only apply for this licence if you’re a licensed taxi operator. A local service is one where:

  • stops are no more than 24.15 kilometres (15 miles) apart
  • at least one stop is within the area of the district council that issued your taxi or private hire vehicle (PHV) licence

The service must be registered with the local Traffic Commissioner.

Licensing in London

You’ll need a London Service Permit to run a private bus or coach service in London.

Taxis and private hire services in London are licensed by Transport for London (TfL).