Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Newsletter

Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Update

Licensing Support and Assistance for Taxi and Private Hire Trade - Introduction

As the current situation with the Covid-19 outbreak continues to progress, the Council is constantly keeping the matter under review, following government guidance and looking at its own business continuity arrangements to ensure we can continue to deliver the service and to enable firms, vehicles and drivers licensing in a timely manner.

We have collated the current advice on taxi and private hire licensing below. Please note that the situation is constantly changing and some of the information may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed but we appreciate your understanding and patience at this time.

You must not attend the St Aldate’s Chambers Office without an appointment booked with the Applications Team or Licensing Officers.

If you require an application pack or DBS form to be sent to your home address please email taxiapplications@oxford.gov.uk.

If you are submitting an application, DBS certificate, medical certificate or any other documentation for a taxi licence please email taxiapplications@oxford.gov.uk.

If you have a general taxi licensing query or are responding to an enforcement or complaint action please email licensing@oxford.gov.uk.

Applications

We are very busy trying to process as many electronic applications as possible. Therefore, please check the website for any updates or changes to procedures in the first instance. Only contact us if absolutely necessary and the information you need is not provided on the website.

Renewal applications will be processed in date received order. 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 drive a vehicle for the carriage of passengers for hire and reward until you have received a new licence.

New Driver Applications

From 21st September 2020 we will be accepting applications for new Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Drivers Licence. Please send your online application and all required documents to taxiapplications@oxford.gov.uk using your new driver application and full name in the subject line of the email.

Documents that need to be attached to the email are:

  • Proof of your English Language qualification (written and spoken)
  • Driver Assessment for Taxi / Private Hire Vehicle Certificate – local provider Oxford Direct Services (Please see Page 2 of the application pack)
  • The Safeguarding and Disability Awareness Training Certificate - Oxfordshire County Council 
  • The completed Application Form Page 33 of the Driver Application pack
  • The completed Annual Background Checks Form Page 34 of the Driver Application pack
  • The DVLA Check Code Form Page 36 of the Driver Application Pack
  • Right to work check code form (if applicable) - Page 38 of the Driver Application Pack
  • HMRC Tax check code form signed but no need to povide a code - Page 40 of the Driver Application Pack
  • DVLA Driving Licence (displaying your current address)
  • Evidence of the Right to Work in the UK (unrestricted) - usually passport or visa (Please see Page 18 of the application pack for guidance) *
  • Proof of current address (trusted document, Please see Page 17 of the application pack for guidance)
  • Photograph of yourself
  • The completed Medical Report (certified by your GP / Doctor, included in the application pack) If you are unable to get a medical report from your GP due to the COVID-19 pandemic then please state this in the email with your application. Please be aware that a Licence cannot be granted without valid medical report.
  • A DBS application form will be posted to your home address. Once you have submitted a valid application for your driver licence online to the Applications Team, an Officer will contact you to arrange a face to face appointment at the Council offices, St Aldate’s Chambers. You will be required to attend the appointment in person and submit your DBS application form along with all original documents to be verified.

* If you are a European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen, or a family member of one of these citizens, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after the 30 June 2021 deadline.

Eligible applicants that wish to keep living in the UK must apply to the scheme well before the deadline. If you need to apply and miss the deadline, your rights to live, work and receive free health care in the UK may be affected.

If you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme but require support to do so, you can contact Asylum Welcome. Asylum Welcome is an Oxford-based charity that provides an independent and confidential service known as Europa Welcome. Europa Welcome offers free support and advice to people applying to the EU Settlement Scheme, this includes face-to-face appointments, remote video calls, telephone appointments and support via email.

If you would like to access support for yourself or your family, please visit the Asylum Welcome website.

To find out more information visit the EU Settlement Scheme pages on GOV.UK.

Once your application has been satisfactorily submitted a Licensing Officer will contact you to book you on the next available Local Knowledge and Safeguarding Test and take payment of £75 for the test. You will receive an email confirmation of your booking including all information for the test; you will also be required to bring original ID documents to the test to be verified by an Officer.

Local Knowledge and Safeguarding Test

Local Knowledge and Safeguarding Tests are due to recommence in April 2021, if you were previously booked on to a test before lockdown a Licensing Officer will be in touch to rebook your test. If you would like to sit the test please request this via email to licensing@oxford.gov.uk  and include a telephone number so we contact you for the payment, the fee for the Local Knowledge and Safeguarding Test is £75.

Renewal Driver Applications

Please send your online application and all required documents to taxiapplications@oxford.gov.uk using your licence number and full name in the subject line of the email. Please submit your application at least 6 to 8 weeks before expiry to ensure the application is processed and the licence/badge to have sufficient time to be received in the first class post. Renewal applications will be processed in date received order.

Documents that need to be attached to the email are:

  • Completed application form – Page 33 of the Driver Application pack
  • Completed Annual Background check consent form – Page 34 of the Driver Application pack
  • Completed DVLA check code form (case sensitive) – Page 36 of the Driver Application Pack
  • Right to work check code form (if applicable) - Page 38 of the Driver Application Pack
  • HMRC Tax check code form (signed and code provided) - Page 40 of the Driver Application Pack
  • Photograph of yourself
  • New Safeguarding and Disability Awareness Course Certificate (if applicable please check your badge or with the office) - Oxfordshire County Council
  • Photograph or scan of your passport or other proof of right to work in the UK. *
  • Photograph or scan of your DVLA driving licence
  • Medical certificate (if applicable) - can be found on the reverse of the drivers badge
  • Photograph or scan of your DBS certificate that you are signed up to the online update service with, please include every page even if they are blank.
  • If you are not signed up to the DBS online update service your application will be deemed invalid and rejected until such time that you have a DBS certificate registered with the online update service. An Officer will contact you to arrange a face to face appointment at the Council offices, St Aldate’s Chambers. You will be required to attend the appointment in person and submit your DBS application form along with all original documents to be verified. Once you receive the certificate you must register it with the online update service and submit alongside a renewal application via email.

* If you are a European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen, or a family member of one of these citizens, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after the 30 June 2021 deadline.

Eligible applicants that wish to keep living in the UK must apply to the scheme well before the deadline. If you need to apply and miss the deadline, your rights to live, work and receive free health care in the UK may be affected.

If you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme but require support to do so, you can contact Asylum Welcome. Asylum Welcome is an Oxford-based charity that provides an independent and confidential service known as Europa Welcome. Europa Welcome offers free support and advice to people applying to the EU Settlement Scheme, this includes face-to-face appointments, remote video calls, telephone appointments and support via email.

If you would like to access support for yourself or your family, please visit the Asylum Welcome website.

Find out more information about the EU Settlement Scheme on GOV.UK.

Once the application and all the required documents are received, the application will be validated by an Officer. If the application is valid, an officer will contact you on the telephone number you provide on the application form to take payment, please have a valid credit or debit card ready (American Express is not accepted). You must make the payment in order for your application to be processed.

Please note that invalid applications will not be processed and Officer will email you back providing details why the application was rejected. If Officer request you 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.

Your licence will sent to you via email and your new badge will be posted via first class post.

HMRC Tax Conditionality - Tax Check Code

From 4th April 2022, all Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Driver licence holders and Private Hire Vehicle Operator licence holders shall be required to complete a HMRC ‘Tax Check’ and provide the Licensing Authority with a Tax Check Code (9 characters) to confirm the tax check has been completed. This requirement has been placed on the Licensing Authorities as introduced in Schedule 33 of Finance Act 2021. 

This will apply to those who are renewing a licence, applying for the same type of licence that expired less than 12 months ago, and applicants who are applying for the same type of licence already held with another licensing authority. Please be aware you will not be granted a licence if you do not provide a tax check code to the licensing authority.

How to prepare for these changes:

You will be able to complete a Tax Check from 7th March 2022.

* Driver Application Packs will be amended in due course to include a form to be filled in with the HMRC Tax Check Code.

Note: The Licensing Authority only receives confirmation from HMRC that the applicant (licence holder) has completed the tax check, the Authority will not have access to information about the applicants tax affairs.

DBS Certificates FAQs

25.How many DBS Certificates can I add to my Update Service account?

You can add as many DBS Certificates as you need i.e. if you have attached a Standard Certificate to your account and then have to apply for an Enhanced Certificate you can add this one to the same account without incurring an additional subscription fee.

26.I have lost my DBS Certificate, what should I do?

You will need to remove your certificate from your Update Service account, apply for a new DBS Certificate and add that to your Update Service account. The DBS will not issue replacement DBS Certificates if you have lost it.

27.Why would I need more than one DBS Certificate?

Your employer or organisation may ask you to apply for another DBS check, if:

  • They have taken the decision not to use the Update Service for Status Checks
  • Your DBS Certificate has been updated, is no longer current and has been removed from the Update Service.
  • They may need another level or type of DBS Certificate than the one you have. E.g. you may have an Enhanced with an Adults’ Barred List check not an Enhanced with a Children’s Barred List check.
  • The Enhanced DBS Certificate relates to another workforce.
  • If you are working with children or as a shared lives carer with adults and you do this work in your own home your employer may need your DBS check to reveal information about you and your address.

The Licensing Authority can only accept Enhanced DBS Certificates for the following workforce:

  • Other Workforce – Taxi Driver
  • These certificates must be registered to the DBS Online Update Service.

Further details in relation to the DBS Update Service can be found in the Applicant Guide.

Medicals

We are aware that drivers may face difficulties with getting medicals done as surgeries are cancelling non-urgent appointments. If you cannot arrange a medical for your renewal licence, please notify the licensing authority when making your application as a temporary self-declaration may be accepted in certain circumstances.

Any drivers who require annual medicals should bear in mind that they are likely to fall into the category of person who should be r more stringent in following social distancing measures. Please see the GOV.UK website for guidance on social distancing and the Shielding pages of GOV.UK for guidance on protecting people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

New Vehicle Applications

All new vehicle applications are now available.

You will need to contact the Licensing Team on 01865 252115 to be allocated an “Available Number”, and then you will need to contact the Oxford Direst Services Motor Transport Section, Marsh Road, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2HH (Telephone number: 01865 252944) to book an appointment for the vehicle to undergo a Certificate of Compliance Test.

If the vehicle passes the Test, the Testing Station will issue a Certificate of Compliance for the vehicle, and issue you with the relevant livery, if required, by the Conditions of Fitness in relation to the vehicle licence.

New or Renewal Vehicle Applications

Please send your online application and all required documents to taxiapplications@oxford.gov.uk.

If this is renewal application of your licence use your Licence Number and full name in the subject line of the email. Please submit your application at least 2 weeks before expiry to ensure the application is processed and the plates to have sufficient time to be made and collected from our offices. Renewal applications will be processed in date received order.

If this is a new vehicle application use New Vehicle Licence and full name in the subject line of the email. Please provide the model, colour, registration number, passenger seating capacity and CO2 emissions of the vehicle.

Documents that need to be attached to the email are:

  • Completed application form – Page 25 of the Vehicle Application pack
  • Photograph or Scan of the Certificate of Compliance
  • Photograph or Scan of the Valid Insurance
  • Photograph or Scan of the V5 document

Once the application and all the required documents are received, the application will be validated by an Officer. If the application is valid, an officer will contact you on the telephone number you provide on the application form to take payment, please have a valid credit or debit card ready (American Express is not accepted). You must make the payment in order for your application to be processed.

Please note that invalid applications will not be processed and Officer will email you back providing details why the application was rejected. If Officer request you 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.

The vehicle proprietor and licensed drivers are not permitted to display an expired licence plate and therefore must comply with the relevant conditions attached to the vehicle and driver licences.

Please find full details:

Once you have submitted your application and all the required documents via email, a Taxi Applications Officer will call you for a payment. They will also book a 10 minute appointment on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday at St Aldate's Chambers to pick up your new plate. Your new plate will only be issued with the exchange of the expired plates (except new licensed vehicles), if you do not have your expired plate with you, you will have to rebook the plate collection appointment.

Please note from 5th May 2021 – you will no longer be required to return your expired plate to Cowley Marsh Depot, you will have to bring the expired plate to your appointment at the Council officers to collect your new plate.

In accordance with the COVID19 regulations, the office will be operated under a COVID19 secure guidance. Due to strict procedures in place for the reception area, if you arrive late for your collection appointment you will not be permitted entry that day and will have to rebook a collection appointment.

Please note that the member of staff facilitating the plate exchange appointments will not be able to answer any taxi related queries or accept any further documentation, these need to be directed to taxiapplications@oxford.gov.uk.

Certificate of Compliance Testing

A Certificate of Compliance Test must be completed in order to renew a licence, with a Certificate issued within 28 days of the licence expiry date.

Oxford Direct Services test centre at Cowley Marsh Depot is open and they are prioritising testing for all licensed Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles; please note that the Reception Desk at Cowley Marsh Depot is closed, therefore all bookings and payments for Certificate of Compliance Tests will be completed on the phone, where payments will be taken via card at time of booking the appointment.

Partition / Safety Screens in Licensed Vehicles

Please visit our Partition Safety Screens in Licensed Vehicles page, which provides full guidance on installation of partition / safety screens in licensed vehicles.

Further Information

  • We will deal with complaints and compliance issues as normal.
  • Please note that invalid applications will not be processed and Officer will email you back providing details why the application was rejected. If Officer request you 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 as a means of contacting us. Our email address taxiapplications@oxford.gov.uk for application enquires and ;licensing@oxford.gov.uk for general enquires these will be monitored throughout the day (between 9am and 5pm) and we will respond as soon as we are able.
  • If you do not have access to email, please call our office on 01865 252565. 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 endeavour to return any calls and respond to emails within 5 working days.

Guidance for Drivers and Passengers Safety

The Government has published guidance for the taxi and private hire vehicle sector to encourage drivers and passengers to travel safely. Alongside this, the Government has also published specific assets which can be used by stakeholders to download and promote key messages from it (particularly the final two assets on the page).

Drivers

Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment - drivers

As a self-employed driver of a vehicle you must conduct a risk assessment to understand the risks and what you can do about them. You should think about how you work and ways you can protect yourself and your passengers.

As a driver you don’t have to write anything down about you risk assessment.

Picking up passengers

Before a passenger enters your vehicle, you should ask if they have:

  • coronavirus symptoms – a fever, new cough or loss of smell or taste
  • had a positive coronavirus test in the last 10 days

You should refuse service if they have.

You should wash or sanitise your hands if you come into contact with a passenger or their luggage. You should do this before and after contact.

You must continue to provide support to disabled passengers to safely enter and exit your vehicle. You must continue to assist disabled passengers with their luggage and mobility equipment.

Show passengers your face while socially distancing so that they can identify you as their driver.

People must stay at home and avoid travel, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. If travelling away from home under a legally permitted reason, passengers can only travel with someone they live with (social contact), or with someone they have formed a support bubble with, unless they are travelling as part of an activity that is exempt.

To help control the spread of the virus you should remind passengers of the rule, but you do not have to refuse to carry them.

In the vehicle

From 30th November 2021 Passengers must wear a face covering in a taxi or PHV, unless they are exempt. Passengers do not have to provide proof that they are exempt.

You do not have to wear a face covering, but we recommend that you do if it does not affect your ability to drive safely. 

You may need to remove your face covering in order to communicate with passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

You should ask passengers to sit as far from you as possible or put a mark where you would like them to sit. Where possible they should not sit in the front of the vehicle.

Open windows when carrying passengers and/or use the car’s vents to bring in fresh air from outside. You should not use the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation system when carrying passengers.

End of journey - leaving the vehicle

Take contactless payment if you can. If not, you should wash your hands with soap and water or sanitiser after handling money.

You should remind passengers to wash or sanitise their hands after the journey.

Preparing your vehicle for the next passenger

COVID is carried in the air by tiny droplets. Larger droplets can land on surfaces they touch. Smaller droplets (called aerosols), can stay in the air for at least 5 minutes and often much longer if there is no ventilation.

Between every journey you should:

  • clean those parts of your vehicle that you or passengers may have touched, for example door handles, payment devices, protective screens, buttons, seats
  • open doors / windows to ventilate the car for 5 minutes
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser

If you have coronavirus symptoms or have been told to self-isolate

You should not work if you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been told to self-isolate. If you have coronavirus symptoms you should get a test as soon as possible. You should stay at home until you get the result.

Private Hire Operators and Taxi Intermediaries

Carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment - operators and intermediaries

Private Hire Operators and Taxi Intermediaries that are employers must carry out a risk assessment in line with government guidance. If you have fewer than 5 employees including non-drivers (dispatchers, booking agents etc), you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment.

Providing health information to drivers and passengers

You should provide health information to drivers and passengers through your smartphone apps, text message and displaying posters within operating centres. You should also:

Drivers do not have to wear a face covering, but we recommend that they do if it does not affect their ability to drive safely.

It is further recommended that you should not offer ride-sharing or pooled ride services online or at taxi ranks.

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 follow developments on the government website as ways to access these will be announced shortly.

Financial help for PHV operators and taxi intermediaries

Find out what financial support schemes you may be eligible for.

Private Hire Vehicles and ZEZ

In March this year, the county and city councils approved a Zero Emission Zone Pilot scheme for a small number of streets in Oxford city centre (see list below). The scheme will help improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions and move us towards zero emission travel in the city. 

Beginning with a small pilot area will allow the councils to test how the scheme works, before developing plans to expand it to a wider area across the city centre at a later date.

The council is aiming for the ZEZ Pilot to go live in August.  A period of 6 weeks’ notice will be given before the scheme goes live to allow people time to understand how it will affect them, and in particular to apply for any discounts to the daily charge that they may be eligible for.

A 50% discount on the daily ZEZ charge is available for petrol electric hybrid Private Hire Vehicles (including Hackney Carriages registered outside of Oxford) which emit:

  • (i) less than 100 g/km CO2 if the date of first registration is before 1 September 2018 or
  • (ii) less than 140 g/km CO2 if the date of first registration is on or after 1 September 2018.

e.g. a 2013 Toyota Prius emitting 92 g/km CO2 would normally fall under the CAZ band (£4 daily charge) but would be eligible for the 50% discount, so would pay a £2 daily charge.

e.g. a 2020 Toyota Prius emitting 132g/km CO2 would normally fall under the CAZ band (£4 daily charge) but would be eligible for the 50% discount, so would pay a £2 daily charge.

The level of CO2 emissions is the amount that is held on the DVLA database. This discount will end on 31 July 2025.

At least 6 weeks before the start of the ZEZ Pilot, you will be able to apply for the 50% PHV petrol/electric hybrid discount by visiting the county council’s website. The relevant charge for these vehicles would then need to be paid once for each day that vehicle is driven in the ZEZ Pilot area.  It will be possible to make payments for driving in the ZEZ Pilot in advance or up to 6 days afterwards.

If you have any queries about the PHV discount or the ZEZ Pilot, please get in touch – zez@oxfordshire.gov.uk