How to become a taxi driver in Dublin (or anywhere in Ireland)

Applying to become a taxi driver in Ireland can be a complex process, with lots of forms, application fees, and different ways of getting on the road. This short guide from Paddy Compare will give you some guidance on how to get started, and a starting point for conforming to the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

The difference between a Taxi and a Hackney is commonly misunderstood. Taxis can be hailed and use bus lanes, and are identified by a yellow sign on the roof. Hackney are for private hire only and must be pre-booked. A limousine must be suited by its style and condition to be used for ceremonial occasions or for corporate or other prestige purposes. A limousine should be pre-booked on a private hire basis and cannot be hailed down in a public place.

There are two different licences required to operate a taxi/hackney/limousine in Ireland:

  • SPSV (Small Public Service Vehicle) Driver Licence
  • SPSV Vehicle Licence

SPSV Driver Licence (Renewable every 5 years)

Before you begin to apply for an SPSV Driver Licence, the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • You must hold a full Irish (or equivalent European) licence, Class B or higher, free from disqualification and endorsements (including penalty points). If your licence is not in English or Irish, some further requirements apply.
  • You must supply an up-to-date TC2 tax clearance certificate, confirming that your tax affairs are up to date.

First, you will need to study for the PSV test. The official manual can be downloaded from http://www.psv.ie/regulator/official_manual_spsv.pdf and contains material covering a range of topics including regulations, map reading, fares and charges, customer service and health and safety.

Next, book your test. This can be done:

The cost is €85.05.

On the day of your test, you will need to bring your driving licence, which should be in-date. The test is multiple choice, lasts around 1h 45m and is comprised of 2 parts:

  • Section 1: Rules and regulations (as studied for earlier) – 54 questions
  • Section 2: Questions relating to your local area – 36 questions

If you are successful, your SPSV Skills Development certificate will be sent in the post. Otherwise, you can book another test.
Once your Skills Development Certificate arrives, you need to pay for your PSV licence by phoning 1890 347 347. The fee is €250. It is important to keep your receipt for later.

Next, you need to submit your PSV drivers licence application at your local Garda station. Collect a FORM PSV 15 from the station and then return it along with:

  • Receipt from paying your PSV Licence fee
  • Skills Development Certificate
  • TC2 tax clearance certificate
  • Your driving licence (at least Class B)

The Garda will then process your application (including criminal record checks), and if successful, post your ID card and smart card to you. This process may take some time.

SPSV Vehicle Licence (Renewable every 6/12 months)

Since 1st January 2013, it has not been possible to rent a taxi plate, without the owner also providing the vehicle and insurance. It is also not possible to transfer ownership of a licence, except for in the event of the owner's death.

At present, only applications for wheelchair accessible taxis are being accepted, and the first step is to complete the Form VL1. The fee is €125 and a guide for completion of the form is available on the National Transport website.

Following a successful application and receipt of your conditional offer, you will need to ensure that your vehicle meets the requirements for operation as an SPSV. This includes roadworthiness, safety equipment, communication aids, passenger information, vehicle size and age rules, insurance and accessibility requirements for wheelchair users. Full details are available here.

Next step is the Initial Suitability Inspection. Insurance and NCT must be in place before booking, and also valid on the day of the test. If your vehicle has been modified, an Engineer's Report or Technical Assessors Report will be required. The requirements for the Inspection are detailed, and can be found at this link.

Following a pass, the vehicle can be operated as an SPSV in the relevant category to which the licence applies, and a copy of the licence certificate will be issued by post.

The final step is for your meter to be verified and sealed. This service is carried out by the Legal Metrology Service / NSAI. Details of locations to have this carried out are shown on this map.

Renewal fees

Unfortunately the fees for taxi drivers are ongoing, and the following fees apply (current as November 2014):

Renewal of SPSV Vehicle Licence 6 Months €62.50
12 Months €125.00
Change of vehicle €125.00
Renewal of SPSV Driver Licence (5 years) €250.00
Renewal of Local area hackney driver licence €20.00

Local Hackney Licence

In 2012, the National Transport Authority introduced the concept of a 'local hackney' service, in order to increase accessibility in rural areas. Drivers pay reduced fees, but their service area is limited. A need for this service will have to have been identified for the target area, and your application will have to be supported by an established organisation representing local businesses in the area or from a community group with a charitable tax status.

The cost of a local hackney driver licence is €20, and the vehicle licence costs €50. More information is available at the National Transport website.