VOSA GUIDANCE FOR OPERATORS OF STRETCH LIMOUSINES
Limousines with more than 8 passenger seats
Traditionally a limousine of this size required a COIF (Certificate of Initial Fitness) from VOSA in order to be registered and used to carry paying passengers (referred to as "use for hire or reward"). Since April 2009 it has also been possible to apply for Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) or type approval for such vehicles. From 29 October 2010, COIF will no longer be an acceptable route to registration, except for vehicles built more than 3 months prior to this date (i.e. manufactured prior to 29th July 2010).
There are very few limousine types that are currently compliant with COIF, IVA or type approval requirements. The Department is aware that vehicles not complying with GB, or EC, construction regulations have been registered in the past and has taken steps to prevent this. Operators need to consider, when purchasing a larger limousine, that most of these vehicles will require considerable expense to convert them in order that they can meet COIF or IVA requirements.
4. What type of Operator's licence do I need?
Vehicles constructed or adapted to carry more than 8 passengers require a PSV Operator's Licence
For vehicles constructed or adapted to carry more than 8 passengers used to carry passengers for hire or reward, the licence required is a public service vehicle (PSV) operator's licence granted by the Traffic Commissioner.
Vehicles constructed or adapted to carry 8 passengers or fewer, require either a private hire vehicle (PHV) licence or a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator's licence:
(a) a private hire vehicle (PHV) licence is required if the vehicle is hired out, with a driver, as a whole (ie: an exclusive hiring). In England and Wales these licences are administered by the relevant local authority or, in London, Transport for London (TfL), who have discretion as to what vehicles they will licence. Where the PHV licensing regime applies the vehicle, the driver and the operator must all be licensed separately by the authority. The situation is similar in Scotland, where Local Authorities act as licensing agents for the Scottish Executive who have legislative responsibility.
(b) a PSV operator's licence is required if the vehicle is used for carrying passengers at separate fares in the course of a business of carrying passengers. Such licences are granted by the Traffic Commissioner. This type of operation is known as a small PSV.
However, where certain conditions are met, vehicles constructed or adapted to carry fewer than 9 passengers will fail to be licensed as PHVs even if passengers pay separate fares. These conditions are essentially about private groups of individuals who make arrangements to share the vehicle, with those arrangements being made independently of
the operator and driver. The relevant conditions are as follows --
the arrangement for the payment of separate fares must not be made by the owner, driver or operator of the vehicle, nor by any person who receives payment for making such arrangements;
the journey must not be advertised to the public;
The following conditions may also be relevant:
where the journey is to a particular destination, all the passengers must travel to, or within the vicinity of, that destination;
no differentiation of fares for the journey must be made on the basis of distance or time.
IMPORTANT - where these conditions are met, the use of the vehicle falls within the PHV licensing regime even if passengers are carried at separate fares, and the appropriate licences must be held.
Information on the PSV operator licensing regime is contained in the guidance booklet PSV437 which can be obtained from any of VOSA's traffic area offices (for address and contact details see appendix 1) or can be accessed on the VOSA website.
Operating without a valid PSV operator licence (where applicable) or vehicle insurance could result in your vehicle being impounded. Other offences could result in prosecution through the Courts, the issue of a Fixed Penalty and Immobilisation of the vehicle
5. Operating services for hire or reward without the required Operator's licence is a criminal offence
Hire or reward is any sort of payment or other reward which gives a person a right to be carried on a vehicle regardless of whether a profit is made or not. The payment may be made by the person themselves or on their behalf. It may be a direct payment (such as a fare, hire charge or other payment made in respect of the journey) or an indirect payment (such as a membership subscription to a club, payment for a bed in a hotel or payment for concert tickets).
What's "dry hire" and what's wrong with it?
is the term used to describe the practice whereby a company leases out a limousine without a driver. If the person hiring the vehicle intends to drive it himself (and holds a suitable driver's licence and insurance), then this is a perfectly legitimate arrangement.
However, some operators have sought to adopt the practice of offering (or requiring) the hirer to hire a driver from a connected/related company under a separate agreement. VOSA considers that where this practice is adopted in an attempt to circumvent the PSV operator licensing requirements where passengers are being carried for hire or reward, it is illegal.
This view is backed up by the courts, who have upheld decisions to bring legal action against operators who have used this practice. VOSA will continue to bring such cases to court, and limousine owners who continue to use "dry hiring" in this way could have their vehicles impounded.
Prohibition and Impounding of Unlicensed and Unsafe Vehicles
As from 1st October 2009 VOSA has the power, under new legislation, to impound any vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than 8 passengers which is being, or has been, used to carry passengers for hire or reward without a PSV operator's licence.
VOSA may also prohibit vehicles from further use where serious mechanical defects, overloading and drivers' hours offences are detected.
In addition to VOSA's powers the police have powers to seize a vehicle for other offences, for example, if it does not meet insurance requirements.
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BE WARNED! - DON'T TAKE CHANCES WITH YOUR CHILDREN USING A LIMO FOR A SCHOOL PROM - MAKE SURE THE VEHICLE IS VOSA APPROVED FOR USE IN THE UK.
1st Direct Limos, Limo for hire Essex will not compromise our customers' safety. It's a high price to pay meeting the UK regulations (Up to £20.000 per Limo), but a price worth paying to ensure our clients' complete safety. As we operate our own vehicle fleet you are not being charged booking fees via Limo Agents and seldom can our hire prices be beaten. Always check that the Limo you hire is approved for use in the UK.