A guide to hiring limousines and novelty vehicles
Since January 2008 Limousines and Novelty Vehicles hired for birthday parties, School Proms and other occasions have required licensing in the same manner as Taxi’s. Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 private hire vehicles, limousines and Hummers, their drivers and booking agents are all legally required to have a licence issued by the appropriate district council. This rule applies to any hire vehicle which can carry eight or fewer passengers and comes with a driver. Limousines which carry more than eight passengers are required to be licensed by the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
Drivers and operators also have to undergo Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and other suitability checks before they are issued with licenses.
Driving vehicles without a license is an offence and carries a maximum fine of £1,000. The council will investigate anyone who is found to be illegally driving or taking bookings for an unlicensed vehicle. Operating or driving without the required licenses may also invalidate any insurance as persons operating hire vehicles are required to hold specific insurance cover for such a business.
When booking transport, check that the operator has a licence number and with which authority they are licensed. You can then call that authority to check the licence’s authenticity. Details of all NKDC-issued licensed operators can be verified by calling 01529 414155.
The operator should be able to tell you which vehicle will be sent, its registration and licence number and who the driver is.
When the car arrives there should be a badge either outside, or on a limo more likely inside, with the licence number and details and the driver should have a credit-card sized photo ID badge which they should be happy to show you. Without both of these things do not get into the vehicle. It is a legal requirement to have these things and they should not get upset if you ask to see them; that’s the minimum they should expect you to ask.
There are three different licences required, for the operator, the driver and the vehicle and you should expect to be able to see or have the details of them all.
It should be noted that where a limousine or similar car is used for funerals or weddings it is exempt from these licence requirements, but if the same car is used for proms or other such occasions it is essential that it is appropriately licensed.