Skip To Main Content

Cambridge City Council

Get your coronavirus vaccination at walk-in clinics in and around Cambridge – no appointment needed, but wear a face mask

Be taxi aware - information for passengers

Are you aware that not all 'taxis' are the same?
Although Hackney carriages (taxis), can be hailed in the street, private hire vehicles cruising the streets looking for customers are illegal, uninsured and potentially very dangerous. Never use any vehicle which is not licensed.

We are responsible for licensing Hackney Carriage and Private Hire vehicles and their drivers in the city, ensuring that vehicles are safe, comfortable and properly insured and that drivers are 'fit and proper' to hold a licence.

We encourage passengers to be informed, prepared, safe and aware and this page gives guidance to support you.

The difference between the types of taxi vehicle

Hackney Carriage vehicles

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

Private Hire vehicles

  • Can only be pre-booked via a licensed Private Hire Operator (the vehicle is not insured to carry you unless it is pre-booked)
  • Doesn't have a taxi roof sign or crests
  • Display pale green front and rear identification plates and must bear a company door sign stating ‘Private Hire – Pre-booked Only’.

More information about Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles


  • 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.

Note:  there a number of Private Hire vehicles that operate in the city which are licensed by other local authorities, in particular South Cambridgeshire District Council.  These vehicles can be identified by their yellow plates.  Any concerns or issues about these vehicles should be addressed directly to South Cambridgeshire District Council.

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).

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 the council with a current table of fares.

More information about Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles

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 may 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, the vehicle plate number and/ or the vehicle registration number and contact our Licensing & Enforcement Team with the details of your complaint (