Welcome to sthelens.gov.uk

Best place to find information and services that your council provides...

Drivers

If you follow this simple procedure you can expect to become a licensed driver in St Helens in approximately four weeks.

  • Contact us via email to book a first appointment. You will need to bring with you a bank card (to pay the DBS, DVLA mandate and application fee – total £112). Read the taxi licensing policy for what you will need to become a licensed driver while you are waiting for your appointment.

Applicant Requirements

  • Before a licence can be granted, you must meet the following criteria:
    • A satisfactory DBS certificate.

    • A satisfactory Group 2 Medical certificate.

    • A satisfactory DVLA Mandate.

    • Passed the Essential Skills Assessment.

First Appointment & Required Documents

  • You must bring the following documentation to your appointment:
    • Proof of identity/address (utility bill or bank statement no more than three months old).

    • A completed driver application form.

    • Passport (if you don't have a passport, a birth certificate is required; if your passport was issued outside of the EU, a certificate of good character from your embassy will be required).

    • A DVLA mandate check code (this can be generated by visiting the DVLA website and inputting the following information: your DVLA driver's licence number, your National Insurance number and the postcode displayed on your licence).

    • DVLA driver licence.

    • National Insurance number (card or letter).

    • Complete five-year address history (for the purposes of completing the DBS)

    • Passport-sized photograph.

  • You will also be given a Group 2 medical certificate to be completed either by your GP or another medical practitioner who will have access to your medical records. You need to organise this appointment for your medical quickly to allow it to take place in this four-week period. The fee for the medical will be individually set by your medical practitioner.
  • It is really important that you tell us at this first appointment if you have any convictions, cautions, health conditions or anything else we need to know. At this stage we will be able to advise you as to whether your application for a licence is likely to be successful.
  • You will be booked onto our next available Essential Skills Assessment (Please note: should you fail this assessment a retest will be required which will incur a fee).
  • For the purposes of completing your DBS, you will need to produce three of the following documents:
    • Passport (any current and valid passport).

    • UK bio-metric residence permit.

    • DVLA driver licence (UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only).

    • Birth certificate (UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (including those issued by UK authorities overseas, for example Embassies, High Commissions & HM Forces)).

    • Bank, building society, mortgage or credit card statement (issued in the last three months).

    • Council tax statement (issued in the last 12 months)
    • Adoption certificate (UK and Channel Islands only).

    • Marriage/civil partnership certificate (UK and Channel Islands only).

    • Immigration document, visa or work permit.

    • HM Forces ID card (UK only).

    • Firearms licence (UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only).

Vocationally Recognised Qualification (VRQ)

  • New applicants will now be given the option to commence work as a licensed driver before completing the VRQ training. You will need to complete the training and provide the certificate of qualification within the first six months of the licence or it will be suspended. You can view the training provider's website for more information. 

Second Appointment & Required Documents

  • Once you have received your DBS certificate, your Group 2 Medical and passed the Essential Skills Assessment you will need to contact us to arrange a second appointment.
  • You will also need to bring these documents with you to the final appointment:

    • Essential Skills pass letter.

    • Your VRQ pass certificate (if you have it at this time).

    • Your Group 2 medical certificate (the date this is signed should be no more than two months before your final appointment).

    • Your DBS certificate.
  • At this second appointment, providing you have brought everything you need and there are no other unforeseen problems, then you will be issued with your one or three-year taxi driver licence.

Taxi Licensing Policy Review

The Taxi Licensing Policy is due for review. However, this has been delayed until the outcome of the recently published Government Consultation into Statutory Guidance for Taxi Licensing is known.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your driver's licence is renewed before its expiry date. Please note that we no longer send reminders out for licence renewals or the renewal of licence checks.

If a renewal application has not been received before the expiry date, then there is no licence to renew and any subsequent request will be treated as a new application, with all the necessary checks starting again.

In order to renew your licence you must contact us to book an appointment and produce the following documents: 

  • Completed renewal application form;
  • Your DVLA driver's licence;
  • A DVLA mandate check code (this can be generated by visiting the DVLA website and inputting the following information: your DVLA driver's licence number, your National Insurance number and the postcode displayed on your licence);
  • Passport or birth certificate;
  • Bank, building society, mortgage or credit card statement (issued in the last three months) to prove your current address.

If you are required to complete a DBS you will need to produce three of these additional documents:

  • Passport (any current and valid passport);
  • UK bio-metric residence permit;
  • DVLA driver's licence (UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only);
  • Birth certificate (UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (including those issued by UK authorities overseas, for example Embassies, High Commissions and HM Forces));
  • Bank, building society, mortgage or credit card statement (issued in the last three months);
  • Adoption certificate (UK and Channel Islands only);
  • Marriage/civil partnership certificate (UK and Channel Islands only);
  • Immigration document, visa or work permit;
  • HM Forces ID card (UK only);
  • Firearms licence (UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man only);

If you are required to complete a medical you will need to produce these additional documents:

We strive to ensure our services meet the highest possible standards and we extend the same standard to those who wish to become licensed drivers within our borough. This assessment will test you on a range of skills we consider necessary to reach those standards. This is an important part of the application process in becoming a licensed driver with us, and you must have passed the assessment before you can be issued with a licence.

Should you fail the assessment then you are allowed one re-sit, which must be taken within three months of the first attempt. Applicants who fail on the second attempt will be unable to re-take the assessment for a minimum period of six months.

The assessment will consist of a number of questions and is to be completed in one-and-a-half hours. You may bring your own calculator to the test (not a mobile phone, tablet or any other electronic device with the ability to access the internet). An A-Z will be provided for you to use while sitting the test.

In order to book onto the Essential Skills Assessment, you must have submitted your application for a hackney/private hire driver's licence.

You are advised to familiarise yourself with the contents of the taxi licensing policy.

Next available Essential Skills Assessment dates 

Date Venue Safeguarding Essential Skills
25 September 2019 St Helens Town Hall 12:45 - 13:45 14:00 - 15:30
09 October 2019 St Helens Town Hall 12:45 - 13:45 14:00 - 15:30
13 November 2019 St Helens Town Hall 12:45 - 13:45 14:00 - 15:30
18 December 2019 St Helens Town Hall 12:45 - 13:45 14:00 - 15:30
22 January 2020 St Helens Town Hall 12:45 - 13:45 14:00 - 15:30
12 February 2020 St Helens Town Hall 12:45 - 13:45 14:00 - 15:30
25 March 2010 St Helens Town Hall 12:45 - 13:45 14:00 - 15:30

 

What does the assessment consist of?

The assessment will involve a series of questions about the St Helens area and popular destinations in the surrounding districts. It will also include questions on licensing regulations, driver and vehicle responsibilities, fare calculations and basic written English to ensure you have the necessary communication skills to be a driver. The test will be broken up into six sections:

  • Local knowledge of the borough
  • Taxi licensing law and standards
  • Journey planning
  • Basic maths
  • Basic English
  • Understanding the use of basic English language.

These operators are currently recruiting licensed drivers in St Helens:

If you are a licensed operator within the borough and would like us to add you to this section, please contact us.

Following approval by the Licensing and Environmental Protection Committee, the Medical Exemption Procedure came into effect. 

Please find all of the supporting documents listed below.

Approved Doctors For Medical Exemptions

Dr C Young

Phoenix Medical Centre
Duke Street
St Helens
WA10 2JP

Tel: 01744 621120

Patterdale Lodge Group Practice

Legh Street
Earlestown
Merseyside
WA12 9NA

Tel: 01925 227111

We must be satisfied that the drivers who obtain licences are ‘fit and proper’ (safe, honest and trustworthy). 

Every applicant must have a criminal record check before they will be granted a licence. This is done by asking you to get an enhanced criminal records check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). We will also check your driving licence to see if you have any driving convictions. In order to complete this check you will need to provide us with a check code from the DVLA website.

Having a driving or criminal conviction will not necessarily prevent you from becoming licensed - it depends what the conviction was for, the sentence imposed and how long ago it was.

For more information please read our convictions policy.

The provision of executive travel or chauffeuring can sometimes cause confusion, especially for those who are starting a new business. This policy has been developed to help such businesses understand their legal obligations under the existing licensing law.

Any person who runs a business which hires out vehicles with a driver, carrying up to eight passengers per vehicle, is considered to be a private hire operator. As such, their drivers and vehicles are private hire drivers and private hire vehicles.

Some examples of this are chauffeur-driven executive cars, airport and station shuttle car services, car services provided by hotels and retail businesses (including courtesy cars for customers), stretch limousines, prom car services, arty buses and other novelty party vehicles (e.g. ice cream vans, fire engines, small vehicles used for guided tours, excursions or holidays).

For the purposes of the legislation, it does not make any difference if you will be receiving immediate payment for the hire of the vehicle, or on account for later payment, or as part of an ongoing contract.

Businesses which only provide car services at weddings or funerals are exempt from licensing.

Licences you will require

To run this type of business you will need to hold three types of licences to ensure that you comply with the law:

The location at which you intend to receive bookings for the hire of vehicles will determine which local council you will need to obtain the licences from. If you will be receiving bookings at an address within St Helens, then all three of your licences will need to be issued by St Helens Council.

While the law now allows licensed operators to sub-contract bookings to other licensed operators both within and outside of St Helens, operators cannot legally give bookings directly to any private hire vehicles or drivers who are not licensed by the same council as the operator.

Getting started

In certain circumstances, we may agree to grant limited exemptions from some of our requirements if a genuine business need can be demonstrated and if we are satisfied that public safety will not be compromised by granting the exemption. The most common exemptions sought are:

  • Drivers not being required to pass the local knowledge sections of our Essential Skills Assessment, if it can be demonstrated (by means of expressions of interest from customers and contractual agreements) that drivers will be wholly or mainly undertaking journeys outside of St Helens (N.B. we may require exempted drivers to complete an alternate test, i.e. looking at the national road network instead. Having a sat-nav in a car is not sufficient justification for granting an exemption, as they can go wrong or misdirect drivers).
  • Vehicles not being required to display identifying signage i.e. licence plates and door signs on the outside of the vehicle (this exemption will only be granted to high-quality prestige and luxury vehicles undertaking executive contract work – alternate signage will be issued to be displayed within the vehicle).

Each request for an exemption from one or more of our standard requirements will be considered on its own merits. Requests should be made in writing at the same time an application for an operator’s licence is submitted and should be accompanied by appropriate evidence that justifies the request for exemption (e.g. letters and contracts from customers demonstrating a business need for a particular exemption). There is no automatic right to any exemption, and our duty to ensure public safety will be our primary concern.

Other things to consider

If you are planning on running a private hire business from your home or a commercial unit, you may need to obtain planning permission for this, particularly if you intend to run multiple vehicles. You may also be liable for business rates at your property.

Your drivers and vehicles will need to be covered by special ‘private hire’ motor insurance policies, which cover them while carrying paying passengers. Ordinary motor insurance policies do not allow this.

Under the conditions of our private hire operator licences, you will need to keep records of all bookings you receive and of every driver and vehicle working for you. Smaller companies may be able to satisfy this requirement with a paper-based system but bigger companies will typically need a specialist computer system.

As your business grows, you may need a public liability insurance policy to provide security against any damages claims made against you. If you employ any other drivers or staff, you are also likely to need employer’s liability insurance.

You will be responsible for your own income tax and national insurance assessments and payments; therefore, you may wish to consider engaging the services of an accountant to assist you with this.

Some operators, particularly stretch limo and party vehicle operators, may wish to supply alcohol as part of their hire agreements. In order to do this, you will need to obtain alcohol licences from the licensing authority who can be contacted by email.

If you decide to use larger vehicles (9+ passengers) in your business, these cannot be licensed by local councils and instead must be licensed as public service vehicles by the Office of the Traffic Commissioner.

Crucial difference between taxis and private hire vehicles

If you are licensed for private hire work, you are only allowed to collect fares which have been booked in advance of the journey. A private hire vehicle cannot ‘ply for hire’ i.e. wait at a rank or be ‘flagged down’. Hackney carriages (otherwise known as black cabs or taxis) can carry out pre-booked journeys but they can also wait on taxi ranks for fares or accept fares from people who flag them down in the street.

It is a criminal offence for a private hire driver to accept a fare without a prior booking and it is also highly likely that this would invalidate any motor insurance policy in force for the vehicle. The council regularly carries out enforcement operations to detect drivers who are operating illegally, which could result in a prosecution and/or suspension or revocation of the driver’s licence.

Further information

Please contact us by email in the first instance if you are looking to set up this type of business.

Upon contacting us you will be given an initial appointment to discuss your requirements.