If you want to use a vehicle in Portsmouth for hire then you must have been issued with a Hackney carriage vehicle licence by the Portsmouth City Council.

It is an offence for a proprietor or part proprietor to use, or permit the use of, a vehicle without this licence. A general guide to the legal requirements, technical specifications, policies and requirements to obtain a Hackney carriage vehicle licence are below.

How to apply

You will need to complete an application form and provide other information about your vehicle in order for us to process your application. All information received will be treated with respect and confidence.

To help us consider your vehicle application it is our policy for you to show that you or the company making the application resides in or near the city, that your vehicle is mechanically suitable, that you have an approved fire extinguisher and more. You will also need to produce a vehicle registration document, an MOT certificate and details of insurance for public/private hire use.

Legal requirements

There is lots of different legislation governing proprietors and vehicles. The laws covering the licensing of Hackney carriage drivers are Part II, Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and Transport Act 1985.

These acts give us powers to impose conditions on the grant or renewal of vehicle licences and enable us to make policy guidelines determining the design or appearance of the vehicle to make it identifiable as a taxi. We may also limit the number of vehicle licences in the city if satisfied ‘that there is no significant demand for the services of Hackney carriages which is unmet’.

The Council has commissioned surveys by independent transport consultants in relation to the demand for the services of Hackney carriage vehicles in the city.

  • The last survey in 2006 concluded that there was no unmet demand for the services of taxis

As a result we will not grant any new vehicle licences – before renewing your existing licence we must be satisfied that:

  • Your car is of suitable design and appearance and have such distinguishing marks as to identify it as a taxi (see technical specifications).
  • Your car is mechanically suitable.
  • Your car is insured for standing and plying for hire (and private hire if applicable).
  • Your car is constructed or adapted to seat no more than 8 passengers.
  • You are responsible for the keeping and running of the vehicle either solely or in partnership with other persons.
  • Your licence, if renewed, will be for one vehicle at any one time.
  • You have been honest in supplying information to us and mush not, under any circumstances, make a false statement at any time to obtain your vehicle licence (this is a serious offence)

Technical specifications

Not all vehicles would be suitable for use as a Hackney carriage vehicle – so the Council has approved certain standards to guide proprietors on the type of vehicle considered suitable, bearing in mind public comfort and safety, as well as any legal requirements.

  • Detailed vehicle specifications can be found in the Hackney carriage vehicle licence information leaflet below.

Granting or renewing your licence

Once you have provided the correct information we will be in a position to issue your licence, which will expire on 30 April annually. You must also provide the licence fee shown on the application form.

If we refuse to grant/renew, or we suspend/revoke a Hackney carriage vehicle licence, you have a right of appeal to the Magistrates Court.

You can renew your licence using our online form.

Current fees


For Hackney Carriage vehicle guidance please email:licensing@portsmouthcc.gov.uk