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Taxis and Private Hire Cars

The Scottish Government has announced that from Monday 22 June 2020, the wearing of face coverings is mandatory on all public transport, including taxis and private hire cars.

Orkney Islands Council operates a scheme for licensing taxis and private hire cars under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. This applies to all taxis and private hire cars operating on the Mainland and linked South Isles of Burray and South Ronaldsay and the landfalls in between. Taxis and private hire cars operating in the North Isles of Orkney or in Hoy or Flotta do not require a licence from the Council, although operators would be well advised to ensure that they have appropriate insurance.

There is a maximum number of 8 passengers permitted in a taxi or private hire car. Any vehicle capable of carrying more passengers is outwith the scope of the taxi and private hire car licensing scheme.

The main difference between a taxi and a private hire car is that taxis can be hailed by customers in the street and can also wait in taxi stances or ranks, but private hire cars can only carry out hires pre-arranged with their offices.

The Council will also license motorised tricycles for private hire use.

Anyone driving a taxi or private hire car must hold either a taxi or private hire car driver's licence.

Taxi Ranks

The Council can appoint taxi ranks or stances in any road within its area, on any land which it may own or, with the consent of the owner, on any land owned by him. The Council can also alter the number of taxis permitted to be at each stance and alter the position of such stances or revoke their appointment. The Council is required to consult persons or organisations appearing to represent taxi operators.

Before appointing a stance or altering the number of taxis permitted to use it, the Council must also consult the local Chief Inspector and give public notice of its proposals, stating that it shall take into account any representations submitted in writing within a period of 28 days from the date of first publication of the notice.

The Council also consults its Roads Services on any proposals.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

The Council maintains and publishes a list of wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire cars in terms of section 167 of the Equality Act 2010 as a Related Download on this page.

Electric Vehicles

Informal information about which taxis and private hire cars are electric is included in the Civic Government Licences - Approved Licence Lists available from the Related Links option on this page. 

Contact Details

If you require further information about this topic please contact the Licensing Team, Legal Services, on telephone: 01856 873535 extensions 2229 or 2232 or via email.

If you would like to see someone in person to discuss a licensing matter please contact the Licensing Team to make an appointment.