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Hackney carriage (taxi) and private hire - information for the public

This web page provides various pieces of useful advice and guidance to members of the public.

Hackney carriages (Taxis)

Hackney carriage vehicles generally look like London style cabs and all have an illuminated "TAXI" sign on the roof. Taxis can be hailed in the street or they can be hired at any taxi rank in the district. Internal stickers are also displayed giving passengers information about the licensed vehicle, driver and tariffs. The driver must also display a council issued driver's badge.

Hackney carriages are the subject of strict licensing rules, regulations and byelaws to ensure that they remain fit for  purpose. Regular mechanical safety checks are carried out and they are also subject to tests on their appearance and cleanliness. Public safety is paramount and only cars meeting the strict standards are licensed. All hackney carriages are adapted to take standard wheelchairs, however not all vehicles can safely carry electric wheelchairs.

Private hire vehicles

Private hire vehicles are commonly referred to as 'taxis' or 'cabs' by the public but they are very different in the way they are permitted to operate and the way they look.

The majority of the fleet operating in the Chichester District are private hire vehicles and are commonly saloon or estate style cars and may not resemble a taxi (hackney carriage) in any way. All private hire cars must be pre-booked through a licensed operator either by telephone or at the licensed operators' office.

Private hire pre book only badge

Licensed private hire vehicles must display a valid council issued licence plate on the rear of the vehicle. They must also display door stickers issued by the council on each side of the vehicle which convey the public safety message 'Pre - Booked only'. Internal stickers are also displayed giving passengers information about the licensed vehicle and the driver. The driver must also display a council issued driver's badge.

In some cases, the council has granted an exemption from the usual plating requirement. Where this is the case, a small licence will be displayed in the front or rear windscreen. The driver is required to carry their drivers badge but is exempt from the need to display the badge. If in doubt ask a driver to show you these identification documents.

Plying for hire

Private hire vehicles cannot be hailed in the street and are not permitted to stand on taxi ranks or wait outside premises hoping for a booking. This is unlawful and is referred to as 'plying for hire'.

Private hire drivers who illegally ply for hire outside pubs and clubs and pick up customers who are not pre-booked are putting their vehicle insurance at risk. Drivers face fines of up to £2500 for illegally plying for hire. The cost to you as a customer could be much higher if you are injured in an accident involving a journey in a private hire car that was not pre-booked as it will have broken the terms and conditions of its insurance policy and therefore not be insured for that journey.

Hackney Carriage - Table of fares

The fares which taxi drivers can charge for hire are set by Chichester District Council.  The proprietor of the taxi must ensure that the table of fares is displayed inside the taxi.  The meter inside the taxi is calibrated to charge the customer the correct fare.  These fares only relate to journeys within the district.  The taxi driver can charge less than the table of fares but not more.   If the journey is to a destination outside the district, then the driver can negotiate a different fare with the customer, but this must be done prior to the customer entering the taxi.  If no such negotiation is entered into then the driver is required to set the meter and charge as normal.

Hackney Carriage Table of Fares (PDF) [131KB]

It is worth noting that this Council has no ability to set fares in relation to private hire operators, who are permitted by law to devise there own tariffs.

Safety tips

When you go to meet your vehicle, if it does not display the signs and plates then do not get in, as it will not be licensed or insured to carry you.

There are several licensed operator's premises in the Chichester district whose telephone numbers are widely advertised. The council cannot control the number of private hire vehicle licences it issues, nor can it regulate the fares charged by private hire operators.

Some safety tips:

  • always book your vehicle with the operator in an advance;
  • never get into a car without ensuring that it is the one booked for you;
  • ensure that it displays the correct licence plates, door signs and drivers badge, and;
  • try and agree the fare at the time of booking with the operator

If you have any questions about the legal and safe use of a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle, or should you wish to complain to the council about the actions of a licensed driver, please contact the Licensing Team.

Operation Crackdown

Operation Crackdown (opens new window) is a joint initiative between Sussex Police and Sussex Safer Roads Partnership to tackle careless, dangerous, aggressive or anti-social driving. If you have observed a vehicle being driven in such a manner then you can report this via the dedicated website.

Compliments and complaints

Should you wish to make a compliment or complaint regarding a journey, the condition of a vehicle or the conduct of a driver, then please submit this, preferably in writing or via email, to In addition, please include either the taxi plate number or driver badge number.


Contact us

For further information and advice email Alternatively, you can phone us on 01243 534740.

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