Setting up and running a taxi service

Taxi operating centres


If you intend to operate your taxi business from a booking office or other premises (an 'operating centre') there are a number of issues and requirements to be aware of.

Planning permission

You may need planning permission depending on the type of premises and the location.

You will only need planning permission to work from home if the overall character of the building will change as a result of the business. Find out more in our guide on use your home as a workplace.

Things for you to consider in reaching this conclusion are:

  • Will your home no longer be used as a private residence?
  • Will your business lead to a marked rise in traffic, people calling or an increase in parked cars at your home?
  • Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise?

If you're not sure, you can apply to the Planning Service for a Certificate of Lawful Use or Development. This is a legal document which confirms that your business operations don't require planning permission.

If you are working from commercial premises you will need to provide one of the following documents with your application for a taxi operator licence:

  • a copy of your planning permission, or
  • a Certificate of Lawful Development Existing

Your licence may be revoked if it is later discovered that your operating centre doesn't have planning permission.

If you need any advice on planning matters you should contact your Local Area Planning Office.

Compliance inspections

During the lifetime of your taxi operator licence a compliance officer from the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) may conduct an inspection of your operating centre(s).

You will be expected to provide evidence that you comply with record-keeping duties which form part of the conditions attached to your licence. Records include:

  • particulars of bookings
  • particulars of vehicles (including the registration mark, a copy of the current insurance certificate and taxi vehicle licence)
  • particulars of drivers (including a copy of the driver's ordinary licence and an up-to-date counterpart licence showing all endorsements)
  • a photocopy of the driver's taxi driver licence
  • record of complaints
  • record of lost property

DVA recommends that you keep separate files on your drivers and vehicles and ensure all of the information is up to date.

You may need to produce evidence that you comply with the requirements for certified or audited financial accounts. Even if you do not prepare formal accounts, you need to keep records of income and expenditure over a set accounting period.

You must also ensure that you have any health and safety documents, including policies and risk assessments, available for inspection during a compliance visit. For advice you should contact the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland on Tel 0800 0320 121.

If you fail a compliance visit, you will be issued with a notice identifying the reasons why. Where the reasons are so serious as to pose a risk to the travelling public (eg using unlicensed drivers or vehicles with proper insurance), your licence may be revoked.

Adding a new operating centre

If you wish to add a new operating centre you must inform the DVA by submitting a variation application form and fee (if applicable).

You will need to provide:

  • evidence that the new premises has planning permission to be used as an operating centre
  • where the public has access to your operating centre, evidence of public liability insurance to the value of £5 million
  • where you have employees, evidence of employer's liability insurance
  • a valid Ofcom licence for any communications equipment in use at the new premises

If you fail to notify DVA that you are trading from a new operating centre, your licence may be suspended or revoked.

Removal of an operating centre

If you cease to trade from an operating centre you should notify the DVA by submitting a variation application form. There is no fee to remove a centre from a licence.