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Cambridge City Council

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Be taxi aware - information for passengers

We are responsible for licensing hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and their drivers in Cambridge. We make sure that vehicles are safe, comfortable and properly insured and that drivers are ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence.

We encourage you to be informed, prepared, safe and aware when travelling by taxi, and this page gives guidance to support you.

The difference between the types of taxi vehicle

Not all ‘taxis’ are the same. You can hail a passing hackney carriage, but private hire vehicles looking for customers are illegal, uninsured and potentially very dangerous. Never use any vehicle that is not licensed.

Hackney carriage vehicles

  • Can be hailed in the street, at an authorised rank or be pre-booked (there is no legal requirement for an advanced booking)
  • Have a yellow sign saying ‘Cambridge Licensed Taxi’ on the roof
  • Have a crest saying ‘Cambridge Hackney Carriage’ on the side
  • Have a pale-blue identification plate on the rear of the vehicle
  • Have a meter to calculate the fare

Private hire vehicles

  • Can only be reserved via a licensed private hire operator – the vehicle is not insured to carry you unless it is reserved in advance
  • Do not have a roof sign or crest
  • Have pale-green identification plates at the front and back
  • Must display a company door sign stating ‘Private hire – pre-booked only’

Some private hire vehicles that operate in the city are licensed by other local authorities, in particular South Cambridgeshire District Council. These vehicles can be identified by their yellow plates. If you have any questions or concerns about these vehicles, contact South Cambridgeshire District Council.


  • Must wear or display in the vehicle their Driver ID Badge which details their name, their licence number and the expiry date of their driver licence.
  • Have been fully vetted, including the completion of an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check, to ensure that they are ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence; prior to a licence being granted.

Fares and charges

Hackney carriage fares

Hackney carriage fares are set by the council and a fare chart should be displayed clearly in each licensed vehicle. Fares are based upon three elements:

  • time of day
  • time taken to complete the journey
  • length of the journey

All vehicles are fitted with a calibrated meter which shouldn't start until all passengers and their belongings are safely in the vehicle.

Hackney carriage vehicles must set the meter for journeys within the city boundary and there is a £3 extra charge for 5 or more passengers which the driver may add to total fare.

If a journey is going beyond the city boundary, you can get a quote from the driver before the journey starts; however, you are within your rights not to accept the quote from the first taxi in the rank.

It's important that you agree the method of charging before you set off on your journey so that you and the driver are both clear (meter or a quoted price).

Fuel surcharge

All hackney carriage vehicles can now charge the extra fuel charge of 40p, as stated in the fare chart.

The extra fuel charge is applied when the national retail price of diesel, as published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, exceeds 179.9p per litre. It is removed when they advise that it no longer exceeds that amount.

Private hire fares

Fares charged by private hire vehicles are not controlled by the council, however the private hire operators that use licensed vehicles fitted with a fare meter must provide us with a current table of fares.

Taxi ranks

The ranks are provided where a demand has been identified such as outside large establishments or at locations where the public or trade have suggested they would be beneficial.

Ranks can be operational for 24 hours or part time (such as evening only).

Designated taxi ranks may be used by any Hackney Carriage vehicle, but may not be used by Private Hire vehicles.

For more information including details about other aspects of passenger safety, including accessibility, exemptions, luggage download the Taxi information for passengers [PDF, 0.3MB].


If you're unfortunate enough to have cause for complaint about a taxi licence holder, you can choose to take up your complaint with the driver or private hire operator directly.

Or you can take note of the driver’s name and badge number and the vehicle plate number or registration number, and email them to us with the details of your complaint.