Limousines & Novelty Vehicles

What are limousines and Novelty Vehicles?

Limousines, or ‘stretch limos’ are traditionally used as wedding and funeral cars but have, in recent years, moved into the mainstream private hire arena.  They are usually imported from America and are standard factory vehicles which have been adapted by lengthening the wheelbase.  Novelty vehicles, for example, decommissioned ambulances; fire engines are also being used for private hire. 

The Council has developed a licensing regime for these types of vehicles, providing they can meet certain criteria, e.g. Seat eight or less passengers, and are mechanically fit. 

What licences are required?

To run a limousine or novelty vehicle business, a number of licences are required.  A private hire vehicle operator’s licence is required for the business itself.  All drivers need to obtain a private hire vehicle driver’s licence and private hire vehicle licences must be issued in respect of all vehicles.

Will the vehicles be tested?

Vehicles will need to be tested by the Council's approved vehicle examiner before a licence is issued.  Regular inspections, at the licensee’s expense, will also be carried out, normally at four or six-monthly intervals, depending on the age of the vehicle.

Do I need to get special insurance cover?

You must ensure that the vehicle is covered for hire and reward purposes, for private hire use.  You must also ensure that cover is available for all other licensed drivers to allow you to employ them, if applicable.

What legislation controls limousines and novelty vehicles?

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Who can apply?

Anyone with a legal interest in a vehicle can apply for a private hire vehicle licence and any person over 18 years can apply for a driver’s licence or an operator’s licence.

What is the application process?

Application information regarding operator’s and driver’s licences is available via the relevant links.

Applicants for vehicle licences must submit the following documents as part of the application process:-

  • Application form completed by all parties
  • Licence fee and plate deposit where appropriate
  • Importation document where applicable
  • Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) certificate where applicable
  • Registration document (‘log book’)
  • Motor insurance certificate/cover note for private hire purposes
  • Proof of ownership
  • MOT certificate if vehicle is over 3 years old

Applicants are advised to contact the Licensing Team and make arrangements to submit the above documents.  The applicant must then contact the approved vehicle examiner to make the necessary appointment for the vehicle to be examined to ensure it is roadworthy to be licensed as a private hire vehicle.  A separate fee will be charged by the examiner, which must be paid at the time of the test.

If the vehicle passes the test, the examiner will affix the rear licence plates and door stickers, if appropriate, and issue a certificate of compliance.  The paper licence and internal licence plates will be issued by the Licensing officer.  However, the licence holder can request, in writing, that the licence plates and stickers not be displayed on the vehicle.

Can I apply online?

No, online applications are not accepted for this type of licence.  

How much does it cost to licence a limousine or novelty vehicle?

On initial application, the licence fee is £285.  In addition, a vehicle testing fee is payable to the Approved Vehicle Examiner.  The renewal application fee is £218.

How long will it take to process a vehicle application and will tacit consent apply?

The application process time is normally between one and two weeks however this depends on the availability of an appointment for the vehicle to be inspected.

Tacit consent will not apply, i.e. if you do not hear anything within the specified time, you cannot automatically assume that the application has been granted. 

Consumer complaints

If you have a complaint regarding any issue relating to licensed or unlicensed taxi activities, please contact the Licensing Team on 01495 355485.