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Taxi Frequently Asked Questions

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Taxi FAQ’s UK

There are a number of questions regarding taxis in the UK that don’t always have clear answers online. This article is designed to answer as many of them as possible in a concise manner.

Booking a taxi

Can you book a taxi online?

Absolutely—many local cab companies will have their own websites with a booking form (and failing that, will always have a phone number you can call to book). Otherwise, websites like minicabit or Cabubble partner with a number of the UK’s top operators to take bookings online.

How to get a taxi

There are a few ways to find and book a taxi. Assuming you have an internet connection, a quick Google search for cab companies in your local area should yield the results you’re looking for. You can type “taxi in [your town]” into Google to be sure the search pulls up local companies. Failing that, local taxi companies will often advertise in local newspapers, yellow pages, shops and restaurants.

And finally, if you’re far from home after a long night out, try asking behind the bar to see if there is a company they could recommend. This'll avoid the dangers of getting into a car you haven't pre-booked, which can be a risky business.

VAT/Tax

Can I claim taxi fares on tax?

If you’re self-employed, you are able to claim business expenses for business-related taxi fares. Your taxi driver should be able to give you a receipt that includes a VAT registration number, the date of the journey and the amount of the fare.

If you’re a full-time employee, or claiming the cost back from a business employing you, you will still need to keep your business-related taxi receipts for submission to your business, however, you won’t be able to claim back any tax on them, as the expense is incurred by your employer.

Is there VAT on taxi fares?

Yes, VAT is charged on taxi and private hire journeys at the standard rate.

Parking

Is it illegal to park in a taxi rank?

Yes, Rule 243 of the Highway Code prohibits parking at a taxi rank unless forced to by stationary traffic.

Can taxis park anywhere

Taxi drivers must follow the same rules and regulations with regards to parking as any other road user, with the obvious exception of being allowed to park in designated taxi ranks and bays. They must also abide by the law regarding the set down/pick-up of passengers.

This means that, like any other road users, taxi drivers may briefly stop to pick-up or drop-off a passenger on road markings like double yellow lines or double white lines. Exemptions apply according to Rule 243 of the Highway Code, prohibiting even short stops at areas such as school entrances or on a bend.

Payment

How to pay for a taxi?

The two easiest ways to pay for a taxi are by card or cash. If required, some operators may also be able to take payment before your journey, either online or over the phone, but this depends on the operator’s policy regarding this.

Taxis in most UK cities will (for the most part) accept card payment from a card machine inside the cabin of the vehicle. If they don’t, feel free to ask (before the journey begins) if they don’t mind dropping you off at a cash machine while on your journey. They’ll be within their rights to reject the journey, but some may be happy to take you on your word and drop you off near a convenient cash machine.

Do taxis take card?

Most taxi operators in the UK will now accept card payments at the end of your journey. Some licensing authorities, such as Transport for London, have even mandated that taxi drivers must be fitted with an approved card payment device within the passenger compartment of their vehicle in order to operate.

You may find that, especially in more rural areas, some taxi operators don’t yet accept card. If this is the case, it’ll be important to make sure you keep cash on you just in case you ever need to make a journey, or to find another local operator who will take card payments upon drop-off at your destination.

When do taxis charge double?

Almost all taxis charge a basic rate upon pick-up (usually £2-£4) and will then charge you per set distance (usually 1/8th of a mile) for the duration of your journey. This wouldn’t apply if you’ve already agreed on a price with the driver (assuming both sides agree), perhaps over the phone while booking or before entering the vehicle.

Most regions also have a day and night charge. While the difference is usually closer to 20-30% than double, it’s worth being aware of if your taxi ends up being a bit more expensive than you anticipated. If you have any further questions, check out our in-depth guide to the average cost of a taxi journey in the UK.

Additional charges vary from region-to-region, but here are a few of the times you can expect to be charged more:

  • Friday/Saturday evenings
  • Sundays
  • Bank Holidays
  • Christmas Day/New Years Day (usually higher rates than Bank Holidays)
  • Any journeys starting/finishing at an airport

Do London taxis take American debit cards?

Some will accept American debit cards and some might not. Whether or not taxi companies accept brands like American Express depends on their policy—they’re not regulated to have to accept non-UK payment options, but some choose to anyway for convenience sake.

The solutions to this are fairly simple. Either keep enough cash on you to cover your journeys, or buy a pre-loaded debit card from a bureau de change—but keep in mind (while often not the case) these might not be contactless, so you may need to activate them at an ATM.

Do NYC taxis take debit cards

Taxis in New York City are required to accept popular brands like American Express, Visa and MasterCard with no minimum journey rate. Keep in mind that tipping in the US is generally expected, so don’t be surprised if your end bill is 10-20% higher than you might have anticipated.

Do taxis in Dublin take card?

The Irish National Transport Authority announced in 2020 that all Irish taxi drivers should be obliged to accept card payments. As such, you should have no issues paying for your taxi with a card in Dublin.

Public Holidays

Do taxis run on Christmas Day?

Many taxi operators will shut for Christmas and New Years Day. However some remain open, so check local advertisements or call around ahead of time and you may be able to find someone willing to take you onboard—don’t be surprised if they charge you significantly more than a usual day, however.

Do taxis run on Bank Holiday Monday?

Yes, most taxi operators will run services on Bank Holiday Monday. You may be charged significantly more than normal as a result of the Bank Holiday, so make sure you’re prepared to cover the additional cost of the service.

Licensing/complaints/safety

How to check a taxi is licensed

There are a few ways to go about this. Firstly, in London, you can check with Transport for London to see whether or not your driver, their vehicle, or the operating company is properly licensed. This can be done using basic information, such as names or licensing numbers, that all drivers should present you upon request.

If you’re outside of London, websites like taxi-register can help find local taxi companies who are properly registered with the local licensing authorities.

Finally, you should be able to find out from your regional licensing authority if your driver/vehicle/operator is properly licensed by requesting their licensing details from them and submitting a request directly.

How to file a complaint against a taxi driver

Your complaint should go directly to your local licensing authority. They will have a complaints procedure detailed online with all the steps you’ll need to submit a formal complaint against a driver. Make sure to prepare as much evidence as possible, such as journey time, start/finish point, and any accompanying pictures or videos that might support your case.

Do you need a car seat in a taxi?

You do not legally require a child car seat in order to bring a child on board a taxi. While it is preferred that the driver is able to provide the correct child car seat, it isn’t a legal requirement.

If there isn’t one on hand, children should always sit in a rear seat, with children over the age of 3 wearing an adult seatbelt and children under the age of 3 not wearing an adult seatbelt.

Are taxis safe?

Yes, taxis are generally safe for their passengers, and very few people are involved in incidents while being a passenger. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to take additional precautions when travelling with strangers, so make sure to let your friends/family know where you’re travelling to and when you expect to arrive, and if your phone has GPS/location capabilities then throw on a location tracker so people know where you are.

Do taxi drivers have to wear seat belts?

No, technically speaking a taxi driver (whether public hire or private hire) does not have to wear a seatbelt as a result of a law introduced in 1993 that hasn’t been changed since. Per reg 6. The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993, taxi drivers are exempt while seeking hire, answering a call for hire or carrying a passenger for hire.

The law is a little outdated, but was put into place to protect taxi drivers from potentially having their seatbelts used against them in robbery/assault attempts. With properly separated cabins, it isn’t such a necessity nowadays, so many taxi drivers probably do opt for the safety a seat belt provides—but they aren’t legally obligated to wear one.

Are taxis public transport?

No, generally speaking, taxis are not considered public transport. The definition for public transport naturally varies regionally but has come to refer to transport operated on a schedule, on a pre-established route that charges a predetermined fee irrespective of the journey time. Examples of public transport include buses, trams, trains and ferries.

Uber-related

Are taxis safer than Uber?

The safety of any journey, whether with a taxi or through Uber, depends on a number of factors. While Uber may allow others to track your journey while on the move, you can also do this when in a taxi, through applications like WhatsApp, so it isn’t exclusive to Uber.

All drivers in the UK will be licensed through the same regional licensing authorities, and so should go through the same background checks as a black cab driver irrespective of whether they’re driving with Uber or with a private taxi operator.

As always, exercise caution whenever entering someone else’s vehicle.

What makes Uber different than a taxi?

Uber’s are private hire vehicles that can only be booked through the Uber app. Uber’s are also usually regular road vehicles, owned by the driver themselves. On the other hand, taxis can be either privately booked or ‘hailed down’ on the street, either at a taxi rank or while they pass you by. Taxis are often ‘bespoke’ vehicles, perhaps in the form of a black/yellow cab or a ‘black van’.

Animal-related

Do taxis take dogs?

Every taxi company is different, so the answer is dependent on the operator themselves. If you have any questions, your best bet is to call well ahead of time and see whether or not they're happy to allow your animal onboard.

For Uber, per their terms & conditions, drivers have the final say on whether or not to allow a dog into their vehicle. The only exception here is service dogs, which drivers (whether Uber or taxi) are legally obligated to accept at all times.

To avoid any confusion, message your driver when he accepts your booking to see if there’s going to be an issue.

Can I take my cat in a taxi?

Each operator has a different policy regarding animals, so call ahead to ask whether or not they allow animals onboard. It might help if your cat is going to be in a pet carrier for the journey—if this is the case, let the company know and see what they say. Ultimately the decision lies with them, however.

Uber’s terms & conditions state that drivers have the final say on whether or not to accept domestic pets in their vehicles. You should check ahead of your driver arriving to see if they’re happy to allow a cat onboard, using Uber’s driver messaging system to make sure they don’t mind.

Purchasing decommissioned black cabs

Can you buy a London taxi

Absolutely, there is nothing stopping you from purchasing a London taxi/black cab and operating it as your private vehicle. Keep in mind that if you do want to use it as a taxi, you’ll still need to go through the appropriate licensing procedure.

Also, just because it’s a taxi doesn’t mean you can park in taxi ranks or use designated taxi/bus lanes—getting caught could land you in trouble, so isn’t worth the risk.

How to buy a London taxi

Websites like AutoTrader do feature specialist dealers offering black cabs for sale. Similarly, specialist dealers like LEVC might be able to help too.

If you’re looking locally, try a quick Google search for taxis for sale in your area.

Other

How many seats in a maxi taxi?

A maxi taxi can generally take between 10-13 passengers, depending on capacity and luggage requirements. Maxi Taxi's are popular in countries like India and Australia, and less so in the UK and Europe. They're similar in dimension and layout to a large people carrier or small school bus.

Comments

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.