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PSV (Public Service Vehicle) Operator Licensing

Information in this guide explains who needs to get a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) operator licence and how much it will cost.

Use it to review the different types of PSV operator's licences and how the licensing system works for operators of public service vehicles in Great Britain.

Who Will Need a PSV Operator’s Licence?

You must hold a valid public service vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence to:

  • Operate a vehicle designed (or adapted) to carry nine (9) or more passengers (including stretched limousines) for payment or payment in kind (hire or reward).
  • Operate a smaller vehicle with eight (8) or fewer passenger seats carrying passengers at separate fares in the course of a business for the journey.

Note: VOSA produce a PSV operator licensing guide for operators of PSVs.

The independent traffic commissioners regulate the PSV operator licensing system in Great Britain. The primary purpose is to ensure the safe and the proper use of public service vehicles for fare paying passengers.

Types of PSV Operator Licence

There are four (4) different types of PSV (Public Service vehicle) operator licences. Besides that, certain types of special licensing rules for PSVs exist inside London.

Standard Licence (for national operations only)

Holding this type of standard licence means you can operate an unlimited number of vehicles (e.g. as a full-time commercial operator), but only in Great Britain.

Standard Licence (for national and international operations)

A standard international licence will allow you to take passengers in the United Kingdom and abroad. You would also get a Community Licence to travel to and from (or through) another EU Member State.

Restricted Licence (for small operations)

Only a small-scale operation can apply for a restricted licence. The licence allows the use of two vehicles (maximum) and neither of them can carry more than eight (8) passengers.

You would be able to carry up to sixteen (16) passengers in either vehicle, providing:

  • You do not use the vehicle as part of a passenger transport business (or)
  • This type of vehicle operation is a sideline business and not your main job.
Special Restricted Licence

You must already hold either a taxi licence, a PHV licence, or a PHC licence to apply for a special restricted licence. The purpose of granting it is to allow the use of a licensed taxi on a local service, such as:

  • Where the stops will not be more than 24.15 kilometres apart (15 miles).
  • Where at least one of the stops will be within the area regulated by the district council that issued the taxi licence (or PHV licence).

Important: This type of service would need to be registered with the local Traffic Commissioner.

Licensing Rules in London

Transport for London (TfL) licenses taxis and private hire services inside the London network. So, you would need to apply for a London Service Permit to run a private bus, coach, or tours service outside the ‘tendered’ network in London.

Note: Operating a PSV without a valid licence is an offence and it can result in a prosecution and having your vehicle impounded. The rules for PSV (Public Service Vehicle) operator licences differ in Northern Ireland and in the Isle of Man.

How to Apply for a PSV Operator’s Licence

You can apply for a public service vehicle (PSV) operator’s licence online or by post. As a rule, it will take around seven (7) weeks to get a decision about your application.

In fact, there is no ‘official’ expiry date to a PSV (Public Service Vehicle) licence. But, you would need to confirm your details at least once every five (5) years.

The Traffic Commissioner’s Office will contact you to verify that the information they have about you is accurate. Holding a special restricted (taxi) licence means you would need to pay a continuation fee.

PSV Operator Licence Fees

  • Application fee for a standard licence is £209
  • Application fee for a restricted licence is £209
  • Application fee for a special restricted (taxi) licence is £61
  • The continuation fee for a special restricted (taxi) licence, which is payable every five years, is £61
  • It will cost £122 to make changes to a PSV licence (e.g. if your circumstances change)

Important: Operating a vehicle before the authorities issue the licence is illegal. The Traffic Commissioner can suspend or revoke a PSV licence if they suspect you are breaking the terms of the permit.

How to Pay Your PSV Licence Fee

In most cases, it will be easier to pay for the application or licence fees at the same time as applying for a vehicle operator licence online. But, you can also pay by telephone or by postal methods.

Paying by Telephone

You would need to call the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) helpline to pay for PSV (Public Service Vehicle) operator licences by phone.

DVSA Helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 9000
Monday to Friday: 7:30am to 6pm
Charges to 0300 numbers.

Paying by Post

If you want to pay by post you would need to send a cheque or a postal order to the Central Licensing Office and make it payable to ‘DVSA’.

Central Licensing Office
Hillcrest House
386 Harehills Lane

How to Make Changes to a PSV Licence

You will be able to apply to vary (make changes to) your PSV operator’s licence. One of the common reasons for making changes is to increase the number of vehicles authorised under the licence. Another section explains how to update and manage your vehicle operator licence online.

But, you cannot surrender (give up) your PSV licence using the usual online service. Instead, you would need to download form SUR1 and use postal methods.

Fill in the form and send it to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. You will find the OTC address written on form SUR1.

There is no fee for making many of the changes to a public service vehicle licence. But, there will be a charge of £122 to:

  • Increase the number of vehicles authorised under the licence.
  • Upgrade the licence from standard national to standard international (and increase the vehicle limit at the same time).

If there are Changes in Circumstances

You must notify the Traffic Commissioner in writing, and within 28 days, if your circumstances change. Some of the typical changes include:

  • A change in the address for correspondence given in the application.
  • A change in the address of the establishment (for standard licence holders only).
  • A change in the address of the operating centres.
  • A change in the trading name of the business.
  • One or more persons named on the licence have since died (you may need to apply for a new licence).
  • A change of business partners (for a partnership firm) or a change of transport managers.
  • The applicant, transport manager, officers, employees, or agents have any relevant convictions.
  • Any other changes that the Traffic Commissioner asked you to report as a condition of getting the licence.

Any change in the ‘legal entity’ of the business also needs reporting to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner’s Central Licensing Office at the DVSA. So for example, you must report it if:

  • The company changes from a sole trader or partnership to a limited company.
  • There is a change in the registered company number.
  • There is a change of directors or a change in shareholding.

Appealing Against a Decision

As a rule, you will be able to appeal against a decision made by the traffic commissioner if they refuse to grant your application for a PSV operator licence.

The first step would be to send a written notice of appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber).

Upper Tribunal
Administrative Appeals Chamber
Traffic Commissioner Appeals
5th floor, Rolls Building
7 Rolls Buildings
Fetter Lane
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 0207 947 7422
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Check UK telephone rates.

Important: Even though there is no fee, they need to receive the notice of appeal within one (1) month of the Traffic Commissioner’s decision.

Appealing an Upper Tribunal decision

What if your appeal is unsuccessful and you believe the decision is wrong? In this case, you can make an appeal to the Court of Appeal (in England and Wales) or to the Court of Session (in Scotland).

You would need to have permission from the Upper Tribunal, or from the Court if the Upper Tribunal refuses.

Note: An application for permission to appeal must be received no later than one (1) month of the original appeal decision. Read ‘Notes for Appellants Form UT12 (Traffic Commissioner appeals)’ for further guidance.

PSV (Public Service Vehicle) Operator Licences in United Kingdom