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Changes to hackney carriage/private hire vehicle licensing requirements due to coronavirus

Staying safe as a taxi driver and passenger

Download the Cumbria County Council advice for taxi drivers

Update in December 2021

The government has updated its guidance that can be taken by drivers, operators and owners of taxi and private hire vehicles to protect against coronavirus  including the latest advice on lateral flow testing. In particular it should be noted that it is mandatory for passengers to wear face coverings in the vehicle and it is recommended that drivers also wear them.

Changes to licensing due to coronavirus

Please note the following changes:

The governments has given an extension of six months for MOTs due after March 30, 2020.

Details: MOTs due up to March 29, 2020

Details: MOTs due from March 30, 2020

Engineers reports required for renewal of vehicles over four years of age have been deferred for six months after the expiry date of the licence. This is in line with the Government's guidance on MOT changes. Those vehicle being renewed must have their service histpry/preventative maintenance schedule produced to Holcar Auto Services in the usual way when the vehicle is presented for test. You must ensure your vehicle is kept in a roadworthy condition at all times.

Vehicle tests at Holcar Auto Services are continuing on a reduced scale and special arrangements are in place. Tests are by appointment only. Do not attend the garage without an appointment as you will not be seen. You will be advised of the arrangements in place when you ring to book your test. The garage can be contacted on 01900 63939.

Application procedure

It is no longer permitted to attend Customer Services for an appointment. Full online applications are to be submitted either with payment made online or over the telephone by card. You must still contact Customer Services on 0303 123 1702 to arrange for the issue of your licence. Accompanying documentation (with bad/plates) can be posted or put in the letter box found at the right hand side of the doors at Allerdale House. Applications will be processed without you having to attend the offices and licences posted to you together with any documents, plates and/or badges.

Summary of hackney carriage/private hire changes to conditions and procedure due to coronavirus

Application requirements for hackney/private hire driver licences

Disclosure and Barring Service certificates

The DBS has relaxed the requirements to verify the identity  of an applicant by examination of original documents in the presence of the applicant. Instead an applicant can scan their identity documents straight to an umbrella company who administer DBS checks. Generally, Personnel Checks administer them on this Authority's behalf but an applicant can select which company/agency they prefer. This has eliminated the need for a customer to have to enter the building and be dealt with by a Customer Services Advisor. There is currently no end date to this relaxation. You will be advised if further changes are introduced.

Statutory declarations

The requirement is for a statutory declaration to be provided by an applicant to accompany a DBS disclosure certificate which has been provided for another Local Authority and is over 3 months old.

The requirement is waived due to solicitors offices being closed. A declaration must be supplied within one month of the facility becoming available again. Failure to do so will result in the licence being suspended. It can be reinstated once the document is supplied subject to any additional information contained within it being subject to current policies.

Knowledge tests

All applicants for new driver licences are required to pass this test prior to obtaining a licence. All knowledge tests have been postponed until safe to resume.

The condition requiring this as part of the application has been amended in the following terms:

"All applicants for the grant of a new hackney carriage or private hire driver's licence must first pass the knowledge test. If this is not available during the application procedure, an applicant granted a licence without being able to fulfil the criteria of passing the knowledge test must do so within three months of the reinstatement of the test. Relevant drivers will be notified when the tests are reinstated.

If the test is not passed within three months of reinstatement, the licence will be suspended. Once the test is passed the suspension can be lifted. In the meantime if the licence expires, the applicant would have to make a new application and the test would have to be passed as part of the criteria of a new applicant."

Driving assessments

All applicants for a driving licence are required to pass a driving assessment prior to obtaining a licence. Driving assessments are currently contracted to Green Penny, who took the decision on 23 March 2020 to postpone tests for three weeks in accordance with government guidance. They have since reviewed that decision and the postponement continues. Depending on the situation and future government advice it is not possible to say when these assessments will be reinstated. For those applicants who are part way through the application process and new applicants, the current condition has been revised in the following terms:

"All applicants for the grant of a new hackney carriage or private hire drivers licence must first pass the driving assessment. If this is not available an applicant granted a licence without being able to fulfil the criteria of passing the assessment must do so within 3 months of their reinstatement. Relevant drivers will be notified when the assessments are reinstated.

If the assessment is not passed within three months of reinstatement, the licence will be suspended. Once the assessment is passed the suspension can be lifted. In the meantime if the licence expires, the applicant would have to make a new application and the assessment would have to be passed as part of the criteria of a new applicant".

Medical requirements

Part of the criteria for drivers is the provision of a Group 1 medical report completed by an applicant's GP or a GP who has access to the applicant's medical records. Due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, it is extemely difficult for applicant to gain access to their GP Surgeries to undertake the medical.

Applicants are advised to apply for renewal of licences in the usual way including the completion of self-certification medical questions and to submit any updated accompanying documentation as required. Providing the renewal application is made on time the licence can be renewed without a break in the licence.

Due to difficulties for existing drivers being able to access surgeries to obtain a doctor's medical, interim measures were put into place. An urgent decision was made by the Chief Executive on the 7th April 2020 as drivers were nearing renewal with the followng amendments made to the current conditon:

"Existing drivers requiring a medical with a renewal application must complete the self certification medical questions: If that form is clear the licence will be renewed. If new information is disclosed or there is anything else requring further investigation, the licence will not be renewed until a Licensing Officer has contacted the doctor for futher information. If the doctor cannot be contacted or the information is insufficient or requires a full medical form to be completed, the licence will not be renewed until a satisfactory medical certificate can be provided. If the licence subsequentlyexpires prior to a medical certificate being obtainable, it is requested to allow the granting of a new licence without further need for the applicant  to sit a knowledge test/driving assessment. The licence will be granted subject to a medical completed by the applicant's own GP or GP having access to their medical records being obtained as soon as facilities are available. Non-compliance with this condition will result in the suspension of the licence".

Note: this is for existing drivers applying for renewal only. New drivers must provide a doctor's medical prior to a licence being granted.

Right to work checks

The Immigration Act 2016 amended existing licensing regimes in the UK to seek to prevent illegal working in the private hire vehicle (PHV) and taxi sector. With effect from 1st December 2016, the provisions in the 2016 Act prohibited all licensing authorities across the UK from issuing a licence to anyone who is disqualified by reason of their immigration status and they discharge this duty by conducting immigration checks.

This duty is discharged by the authority by being satisfied that the person is not disqualified from holding a licence before a licence is issued to that person.

The Home Office has announced  temporary changesto right to work checks in response to Covid-19. It announced on 31st March 2020 that right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted due to coronavirus. As of 30th March 2020 the following temporary changes have been made:

  • Checks can now be carried out over video calls
  • Scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals, will be acceptable
  • The Employer Checking Service should be used for prospective or existing persons who cannot provide any of the accepted documents

The Home Office confirmed that right to work checks "continue to be necessary" in accordance with the relevant guidance and advised the following:

  • Ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
  • Arrange a video call with the worker - ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents
  • Record the date you made the check and mark it as "adjusted check undertaken on (insert date) due to COVID-19"
  • If the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call - the applicant must give you permission to view their details

DVLA driving licence

Driving licences are checked before all grant and renewal of licences. This is done by checking the information on the DVLA website and only with the applicant's permission. This can be done in one of two ways. It can be viewd by a customer service advisor in the presence of the applicant when they are attending their appointment, or, the applicant can generate an online code on the DVLA website which is valid for 21 dys and supply that to the customer service advisor who can check it in their absence using that code.

As applicants cannot attend the offices, they must now generate the online code prior to the application being processed. This must be provided to the customer service team by email or telephone who can then check the licence for validity, restrctions and endorsements online in the normal way.

Application requirements for hackney carriage/private hire vehicle licences

MOT, vehicle tests and engineers' reports

Depending on the age of a vehicle, none, some or all of these will be required to obtain a vehicle licence.


On 25th March 2020, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) published guidance explaining the extension of MOT expiry dates as follows:

"Your car, motorcycle, light van or other light vehicle's MOT expiry date will be automatically extended by 6 months if it's due on or after Monday 30th March 2020. Different rules apply for MOTSs due before this date".

This means that your vehicle will still have a valid MOT certificate for an extra six months.

You do not need to do anything for this to happen. However, you must keep your vehicle safe to drive.

This applies to all vehicles, including those that need their first ever MOT test. You will not get a paper certificate to show your new MOT expiry date.

If your vehicle tax is due
You can tax your vehicle as soon as your MOT expiry date has been updated.

Keep your vehicle safe to drive
You must make sure your vehicle is safe to drive ("roadworthy"). It can be unsafe even if your MOT expiry date has been extended. You should still tale your vehicle to be repaired at the nearest open garage. The government is allowing them to remain open.

Vehicle tests

Holcar Auto Services is the contractor who carries out the vehicle testing on the Licensing Authority's behalf. These are carried out before a licence is granted, renewed or six months into the licence duration if the vehicle is over four years if age. The tests are continuing at present with stringent measures in place. The tests have been scaled back to allow for a reduced number of testers and for sanitisation of the vehicle after each test.

In line with government guidance some drivers have ceased operating and are self-isolating. These may be self-employed operators who have no other drivers working for them. In these cases they are unable to present their vehicle for a six month test.

If either vehicle cannot be presented for test or Holcar cannot continue with the tests the following provisions are in place:

In line with the MOT extension the previous vehicle pass tests date is extended by six month and the vehicle licence is renewed without either and MOT (if required) or the vehicle test; and

Any vehicle due a six month test which either cannot be presented for test or the test cannot be provided has the previous pass tests date extended by six months.

Under both provisions the vehicle licence holder must keep the vehicle safe to drive in line with the guidance issued by the DVSA and comply with all other conditions of licence. 

Engineers' reports

All licence holders wishing to renew vehicles over the age of four years require an independent engineer's report as part of the documentation before the issue of the licence.

Due to difficulties for existing drivers being able to obtain an engineer's report, interim measures were put into place. An urgent decision was made by the Chief Executive on 1st April 2020 as vehicle licences were nearing renewal. An amendment was made to the current condition to defer the requirement for a report for 6 months following the expiry date of a licence. Non-compliance with this condition will result in the vehicle licence being suspended.

Suspension of vehicle licences

If the MOT, vehicle test and/or the engineer's report are not passed by the end of the six month extension, the vehicle licence will be suspended by officers.

Expedited application process for licences not renewed due to cease of business operation

Some drivers and vehicle operatrs have chosen not to continue trading at present. An expedited procedure for their reapplication after the pandemic has been approved which will involve only having to produce documents which would be out of date at the time of the new application.

This is only for drivers/vehicle and private hire operators who notify the authority that they have ceased trading. Please email unless you have already spoken to a member of the Licensing Department or Customer Services.

Following application and payment the checks required for drivers under an expedited process are:

A current DBS certificate;
Up-to-date check of DVLA driving livence;and
Up-to-date medical certificate if required.

The applicant does not have to pass the knowledge test and driving assessment again if already taken. Drivers exempt from the driving assessment for various reasons will retain that inherited right.

Following application and payment the checks required for vehicles under an expedited process are:

Up-to-date insurance document;
MOT unless extension is still applicable;
Engineer’s report (if the vehicle is over 4 years of age) unless extension is still applicable; and
Vehicle test by Holcar Auto Services

Following application and payment the checks required for a private hire operator licence would be unchanged as follows:

A current Basic DBS disclosure; and
Written procedure on checks carried out on staff other than drivers employed by the business eg telephone operator

Customer service appointments

Customers are being advised of the revised system of processing applications. Full online applications are to be submitted either with payment made online or over the telephone by card. The applicant must then contact Customer Services to arrange the processing of the application by telephoning 0303 123 1702. Accompanying documentation should be posted in the letterbox at Allerdale House or though the post together with expiring badges and plates. Applications will be processed without the customer having to attend the office. Licence and plates/badge/stripes will be posted out together with documentation submitted.

How transitioning into Cumberland Council effects Taxi Drivers

As you are aware Allerdale BC, Carlisle CC, Copeland BC and Cumbria County Council will be amalgamating from 1 April 2023 to form a new authority called Cumberland.

A lot of  work is ongoing to ensure a smooth transition for all services. From a licensing perspective there is a county licensing group and a Cumberland group which meet regularly to examine the various policies and procedures across the authorities. At this point no timetable can be provided when rates, policies and fees etc will be determined. Prior to any decisions an extensive consultation exercise will take place with the taxi and private hire trade.

Current discussions are around the possible rebranding of the taxi and private hire licences. This includes vehicle livery and drivers badges. No decisions have been made yet whether new plates and badges will be issued displaying the new Cumberland logo for April.  In light of possible changes from April the decision has been taken to stop issuing chequered stripes for new hackney vehicles. We will use up existing stock for replacement stripes which may be needed for existing licensed vehicles.   All other conditions remain the same.

You will be updated as we go along with any interim decisions such as this one. If you have any queries please contact  but please be aware that no further information is available at this stage.

Staying financially safe during the coronavirus pandemic

Drivers may experience a loss in regular income and feel the need to turn to money lenders. The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) has issued this warning to taxi and private hire drivers regarding the use of illegal lenders.

Taxi licences - private hire and hackney carriage

There are two types of taxi licence: hackney carriage and private hire. We license hackney carriage vehicles, private hire vehicles, their drivers and operators.

Applications for new or renewal driver and vehicle licences are now carried out online.

We will soon be rolling out online applications for other taxi licences. In the meantime, please click on the link below and download the forms.

Appointments for applications

Please note that an appointment can only be arranged when an online application is submitted first. You will not receive an appointment from customer services if you have not submitted an online application.

Licences will not be renewed if you don't bring in your expired plates and badges. Please remember to bring these to your appointments otherwise you will be refused and will have to re-book.

Taxi application appointments are only available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. A small number of appointments will be available on a Friday for emergencies only. Emergencies are defined as replacements for lost or damaged badges/plates and applications in connection with an insurance claim following a vehicle accident.

Appointments for new or renewal badge/plates will be not classed as an emergency and will be given the next standard available date which may be after a weekend. Please ensure that you book your appointment with our customer services team well in advance of your expiry date. We recommend you book two weeks in advance.

Renewal of driver licences in extenuating circumstances

Situations can arise outside the control of a licence holder which prevents them being able to attend the council offices to renew their driver's badge on time.

To facilitate licence holders, the Licensing Committee approved a procedure on October 29, 2019 which can be used providing certain protocols are followed. To enable an applicant to use this system they must advise the licensing authority of their circumstances four weeks in advance and approval to use this process will be considered by the licensing officers in conjunction with the legal department and chair or vice chair of the licensing committee. This system is to be used only in exceptional circumstances. The licence cannot be renewed after it has expired and a badge will not be issued until the applicant can attend the office to have their photograph taken.

If approved, the following procedure must be adhered to:

  • An online renewal application must be made in advance
  • Payment must either be made online or by another person in advance of the licence expiring
  • DBS subscription service must be in place so that it can be checked or an original valid, in date certificate must be supplied
  • In respect of a driver's driving licence, a code must be generated by the DVLA and provided to the licensing authority in advance so that endorsements can be checked
  • A doctor's medical certificate must be provided in advance
  • Knowledge test - if applicable must be passed before renewal
  • Driving assessment - if applicable must be completed in advance
  • In respect of the requirement for a photograph to be submitted, the licence holder must attend the offices within three months of the renewed licence being issued. The badge would be issued at this point and the new photograph attached to the licensing records.

Please note that a licence will not be renewed if any of the accompanying documentation is not up to date or available to be checked. This will result in a new application having to be made which will be deemed as a new licence and if this is not within 28 days of the expiry of the orginal licence, all new documentation will be required.

Download the licence reinstatement guidance document

Key documents for applicants

Applicants should download the following key documents before making an application for a taxi driver licence:

Download the criminal convictions policy

Download the statutory declaration form

Download the medical assessment form

Download the taxi fees and charges document

Driver knowledge test

We're now asking all applicants to carry out a knowledge test which covers criteria such as numeracy, safeguarding, Highway Code, policies, local geographical knowledge and disability awareness. It is a mix of multiple choice, true/false and free text answers and includes words and pictures. See notes to applicant  for more details.

You must achieve 70 per cent in each of the six categories in order to pass.

You can attempt to pass the test as many times as possible, though you do have to pay again if you fail.

All new applicants must pass the knowledge test before a licence is granted.

The test is carried out on a tablet at our main offices at Allerdale House in Workington.  You will get an email the next day with the result. Please remember to check your spam/junk folders in case the emails are misdirected there. The licensing department will be informed if you pass the test. 

You may wish to view the knowledge test example questions  to get an idea of the kinds of questions you will see during your test.

If you have special requirements or feel you will need assistance to complete the test, please contact the licensing department at your earliest convenience to help us make the necessary arrangements.

Additional information for knowledge test applicants around the signs of child exploitation

Download the Child Sexual Exploitation guidance document

There is a fee of £48 (inclusive of VAT) for the knowledge test which is payable when you book the test online.

Book a knowledge test

Driving assessment

All hackney carriage and private hire driver licences will be issued on the following terms:

  • All applicants for the grant of a new hackney carriage or private hire licence must pass the driving assessment. Any licensed drivers appearing before the Licensing Panel with repeated traffic offences may be required to pass the relevant assessment selected.
  • Existing drivers granted a licence after September 2016 who did not pass a Driving Standards Agency test must pass the new assessment by 15 July 2019. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of your licence.
  • You do not have to take the driving assessment (exemptions) if you are a driving instructor, driving examiner, or hold driving categories D and D1 together with a driver qualification card which is valid for five years and shows that 35 hours of approved training courses have been completed. Evidence is required for all exemptions.
  • Applications that do not comply with the terms and conditions may be considered by the Licensing Panel and the fee may not be refundable. If you are unsure if your application will be accepted on a matter of policy then please

How to arrange the driving assessment?

The assessments are carried out by Green Penny and you can book via their website . All assessments will be carried out in the Allerdale area.

Table of Fares

Taxi (hackney carriage) table of fares (update 1 April 2018)
DISTANCE (Tariff 1)Tariff
If the distance does not exceed 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) for the whole distance320 pence
If the distance exceeds 1.6 kilometre (1 mile) for the first kilometre (1 mile)320 pence
For each subsequent 0.32 (1/5th of a mile) or uncompleted part thereof45 pence
For each period of three minutes or uncompleted part thereof45 pence
(Tariff 2) For hiring commenced between Midnight and 6.00 a.m.PLUS 50% OF TARIFF 1
(Tariff 3) All day on Bank and Public Holidays including Easter Sunday, Boxing Day and any Bank Holidays given in lieu of Boxing Day and to 4.00 a.m. on the day following those listed above. Hirings commenced between 6.00 p.m. and Midnight on Christmas Eve and New Years EvePLUS 75% OF TARIFF 1
Tariff 4) Christmas Day and New Years DayPLUS 100% OF TARIFF 1
For each article of luggage conveyed outside the passenger compartment or the carriage for the whole distance20 pence
For each person in excess of two50 pence
Fouling Charge£50
The above rates of fare are applicable to:*
1. Journeys taken entirely within the Borough of Allerdale.*
2. Journeys ending outside the Borough of Allerdale where no fare or rate is agreed in advance of such journeys between the hirer and the driver.None