Setting Up and Running a Taxi Service


Operating a taxi service is one of the most popular forms of self-employment in Northern Ireland. There are over 10,000 taxis currently operating across the province, providing an important service and a base of stable jobs in the local economy.

The taxi sector has recently undergone a series of reforms to simplify licensing systems. It is important to know exactly what is required if you are thinking of setting up a taxi service, whether as an independent driver, or a business to operate a fleet of taxis.

If you are planning to set up and run a taxi business in Northern Ireland, there are a number of legal requirements that you must comply with.

You must:

  • have a Taxi Operator Licence
  • ensure that all drivers who work for you are licensed taxi drivers
  • ensure that all vehicles in your fleet are licensed taxis

Taxi licensing rules apply to anyone who operates a taxi business in Northern Ireland.

This guide explains the taxi licensing procedure and what you are required to do once your licence is granted.

Taxi operator licensing

The way taxi services are regulated in Northern Ireland has recently changed. The reforms are intended to provide a standardised licensing system for taxi operators, and to raise standards for customers.

You must have been issued with a Taxi Operator Licence from the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) to run a taxi service. This applies to sole traders, registered companies and partnerships, provided that the business is located in Northern Ireland.

All taxi drivers are required to either:

  • apply for a Taxi Operator Licence
  • work for a licensed taxi operator

There are two types of operator’s licence:

  • small operator – can only list up to two taxis on the licence
  • large operator – can operate any number of taxis as long as these are listed on the licence

A licensed operator will be required to meet a number of conditions in order to retain their licence.

Operating a taxi business without a licence is illegal.

You don’t need a taxi operator licence if you provide:

  • transport solely for weddings
  • courtesy transport as part of another business which is not a taxi business, eg a funeral undertaker

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