Taxi customer information and advice

This webpage answers questions that you, as a customer, may have in relation to hackney carriage and private hire licenses in West Suffolk.

There are standards that all drivers, owners and operators must meet to satisfy their licence conditions. These are designed to ensure that customers of these services are:

  • safely transported as required, at all times of the day and night
  • confident that the drivers and vehicles have been checked and are safe and suitable.

The difference between a hackney carriage and a private hire vehicle

Hackney carriages (taxis)

Hackney carriages (commonly known as taxis) can pick up from taxi ranks and be flagged down in the street (hailed) within the district of West Suffolk. Hackney carriages can also be pre-booked.

The driver of a hackney carriage vehicle cannot charge the hirer a fare higher than the fare on the meter, unless the journey starts or ends outside of the district and has been agreed before the journey commences.

The fares are set by West Suffolk Council and the fare card must be on display in all hackney carriage vehicles.

Private hire vehicles

Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked and cannot be flagged down in the street (hailed). It is illegal for a private hire vehicle to take a journey which has not been pre-booked or to accept a fare by being hailed.

All private hire cars must be pre-booked through a licensed operator. Operators are responsible for a booking once made and any issues should be taken up with the operator. If it is an issue affecting their suitability to hold a licence, you should report it to the council licensing team.

How the fare is calculated

Hackney carriages (taxis)

Each hackney carriage must be fitted with a calibrated meter, which must be switched on at the start of the journey. The fares are set by West Suffolk Council and the fare card must be on display in all hackney carriage vehicles.

For journeys within the district of West Suffolk the meter must be used at all times. A hackney carriage cannot charge more than the metered fare for a journey within the district irrespective of how that was arranged (rank, hailed or pre-booked).

Hackney carriage drivers are not obliged to take fares starting or finishing outside of the district. Journeys that start or finish outside the district can either be charged using the meter or a pre-agreed fixed fare. The passenger should not be in any doubt about how the fare will be charged. A fixed fare must be agreed before the start of a hiring for a journey which ends outside the district, agreement can be made to pay an amount which is more than the metered fare, but if no agreement is made only the metered fare can be charged.

Private hire vehicle

Private hire operators can set their own fares. A private hire vehicle may or may not have a meter, if a meter is used the current fare chart must be displayed in each vehicle.

For private hire vehicles without meters, the passenger cannot be charged more than the fare agreed between the passenger and operator before the vehicle was hired.

Is there any charge for carrying an assistance dog and or a wheelchair?

There is no extra charge for assistance dogs, wheelchairs, or mobility aids.

Drivers may carry any animal belonging to a passenger (for example pets) at their own discretion anywhere in the vehicle and they shall make sure, where necessary, that such animals are suitably restrained or contained so as not to present a nuisance or hazard to the occupants of the vehicle.

How to make a complaint

Overcharging and time keeping

If your complaint is about over charging or pre-booked hackney carriage and private hire vehicles not turning up on time you should take your complaint up with the driver or their operator, quoting the drivers badge number, vehicle plate number and/or vehicle registration number.


If your complaint is about where hackney carriages or private hire vehicles are parked or causing an obstruction:

  • on a private car park or private land - contact the owner of the car park or land
  • on a council car park, double yellow lines or zebra crossing, you can report a parking infringement online
  • if causing a dangerous obstruction contact Suffolk Police on 101.

Road traffic offences

If your complaint is about a road traffic offence, (for example unsafe or erratic driving or a driver using a handheld mobile phone) you will need to contact Suffolk Police on telephone number 101.

Complaints we can investigate

The types of complaints that we can investigate are (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • equality and diversity issues
  • inappropriate behaviour
  • over charging
  • refusing to carry passengers in the district of West Suffolk without good reason
  • vehicle defects, including cleanliness
  • safeguarding issues
  • drivers smoking in licensed vehicles
  • incorrect use of meters
  • drivers taking an extended route without good reason.

Any such complaint is required in writing to ensure that the correct details are obtained. You can contact us by email at, giving as much information as possible, such as date and time, pick up and drop off points, vehicle licence plate number, vehicle registration and details of the driver.

We cannot investigate any complaint without full details so we can investigate and identify the driver or vehicle that may be at fault. We will also need your details to respond or ask further questions.

More information

  • An out of town hackney carriage cannot be hailed on the street or wait on West Suffolk taxi ranks.
  • The taxi ranks cannot be used by private hire vehicles to drop off or pick up passengers.
  • The drivers may charge you a ‘soiling fee’ if you soil or dirty the vehicle.
  • Private hire vehicles and hackney carriage vehicles are not required to carry child safety seats.
  • Hackney carriage drivers are exempt from wearing seat belts; however private hire drivers should wear seat belts unless they are carrying passengers.
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