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If you’re involved in transporting people for hire or reward – or transporting more than 12 people – you’re providing a passenger service and need a transport service licence.

Read a definition of 'hire or reward'

There are two types of passenger service: 

Small passenger service (SPS)

A small passenger service uses vehicles that carry 12 people or less (including the driver), for hire or reward. 

Operators of an SPS must hold a small passenger service licence (SPSL) and their drivers must have a passenger (P) endorsement and display an ID card. Owner-operators need to hold both an SPSL and a P endorsement. 

Some common types of small passenger services are:

Taxis

Taxis are usually cars similar to those used for private motoring, but also include minibuses (small vans).

They are commonly fitted with ‘Taxi’ signs on their roofs and the drivers usually use meters to determine the fares that customers are charged.

App-based services

An app-based service is where drivers are connected with passengers electronically, for example through an app. 

Shuttles

Shuttles are minibuses that can carry between 9 and 12 people, including the driver. They often tow trailers that hold passengers’ belongings.

Shuttles transport people to and from major transport centres, airports, railway stations, bus terminals, private homes, hotels and motels.

A shuttle journey usually starts or ends at an airport, railway station, or bus or ferry terminal.

Private hire

Private hire services typically offer a 'limousine' experience, using vehicles without any signage to indicate they are passenger services. Hotels may use them to transport important guests, who pay a fee for the service.

A private hire journey must be pre-booked.

Dial-a-driver

Dial-a-driver services take private motorists home (or to other destinations of their choice) in their own cars – usually when the motorists don't believe they are capable of driving themselves safely.

The dial-a-driver service takes a second driver to the customer's car. This driver then drives the customer's car, plus the driver and any passengers, to their destination. A fee is charged for the service.

Facilitated cost-sharing

A facilitated cost-sharing service is one where a third party arranges contact between people interested in car-pooling. The service can charge a fee, and drivers are reimbursed at a cost-sharing rate set by the Minister of Transport that reflects journey fuel costs and vehicle wear and tear. Drivers cannot be reimbursed for their time. 

The facilitated cost-sharing service needs to have an SPSL, but the vehicles don't need to display transport service licence labels or have extra safety checks, and the driver doesn't need a P endorsement. 

Find out more about the requirements for running a passenger service
Find out more about the rights and responsibilities of small passenger service drivers and passengers

Large passenger service

A large passenger service uses vehicles that are designed or adapted to carry more than 12 people (including the driver), whether or not they operate for hire or reward. This includes volunteer services and driving for events. 

Operators of a large passenger service must hold a large passenger service licence. You can hold an SPSL at the same time and operate a mixed service. 

Buses

Most bus services use large passenger service vehicles, which have seating for 12 or more people.

Bus services include long-distance (intercity), city and suburban transport and tour coaches.

Find out more about the requirements for running a passenger service

Passenger service vehicles

Read more about passenger service vehicles

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