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SPSV Vehicle Licensing

If you want to operate a vehicle as a taxi, hackney, or limousine, that vehicle must be licensed as a small public service vehicle (SPSV).

SPSV Licence Categories:

  • Taxi Public hire vehicle licensed to stand or ply for hire. All vehicles must be fitted with a taximeter, roof sign and have approved branding applied.
  • Wheelchair Accessible Taxi WAVs must be constructed or converted specifically to accommodate at least one person sitting in a wheelchair and at least one adult passenger. Public hire vehicle licensed to stand or ply for hire. All vehicles must be fitted with a taximeter, roof sign and have approved branding applied.
  • Hackney Private hire vehicle, must be pre-booked and fare agreed in advance
  • Wheelchair Accessible Hackney WAVs must be constructed or converted specifically to accommodate at least one person sitting in a wheelchair and at least one adult passenger. Private hire vehicle, must be pre-booked and fare agreed in advance
  • Limousine Private hire vehicle, must be pre-booked and fare agreed in advance

NTA is currently accepting new vehicle licence applications for wheelchair accessible taxis, wheelchair accessible hackneys, local area hackneys and limousines only.

These licences are issued by NTA to applicants who meet certain criteria and whose vehicles meet the required legal standards. A vehicle licence may be held by an individual or by a company.

Only vehicles listed on NTA’s website are confirmed suitable for use as SPSVs. Please review the Model Report Database and Guidance for Limousine Vehicle Choice to ensure your proposed vehicle is acceptable. There are also strict age rules applicable to SPSVs. An SPSV specific suitability inspection will be carried out on your vehicle as part of the licensing process.

Vehicle standards

The standards that apply to SPSVs are of two kinds:

  • Roadworthiness standards, which relate to the maintenance and safety of the vehicle, inspected through the NCT (National Car Test)
  • SPSV-specific suitability standards, which relate to the vehicle’s specification, age, condition and comfort, and, for wheelchair accessible vehicle licences, the additional equipment needed, inspected by NTA

SPSV suitability

NTA has developed a comprehensive and detailed set of standards with which all vehicles operating in the industry must comply. These are explained in NTA’s Initial Suitability Inspection Manual. The primary aim of these standards is to ensure the quality of vehicles in the SPSV industry. They include minimum standards for age, size, accessibility and comfort.

All SPSVs are tested for suitability before they are first licensed as SPSVs and again prior to renewal of the vehicle licence. The criteria used in suitability testing depend on the vehicle licence category and when the licence was first issued. They include the vehicle’s specification, age and condition, and, for wheelchair accessible vehicle licences, the additional equipment needed.

General requirements

All SPSVs must be mechanically propelled vehicles designed and constructed for carrying up to eight persons, excluding the driver, and weighing no more than 3,500 kilograms.

All SPSVs must have at least four wheels and, except for some limousines, all require four doors. There are specific technical requirements relating to the wheelbase, the track width, the side to side variation in wheelbase, the tyre load rating, and the operation of the doors. These are set out in the Initial Suitability Inspection Manual.

Vehicles must not be a ‘crew cab’ or ‘pick-up’. In practice this means that the vehicles must be designed predominantly for the carriage of passengers rather than goods. This is usually indicated on the Vehicle Registration Certificate by stating something other than “M1” in box “J” and/or something other than “A” in box “J1” and/or a seat count of “2” or “3” in box “S1”.

Age

The age of the vehicle is important because, while careful maintenance can keep a vehicle in good condition, modern vehicles incorporate safety and environmental features that were not available on earlier models; see age rules for further details.

The maximum age of a vehicle that can be licensed as an SPSV depends on a number of factors including:

  • The category of licence
  • The licensing transaction – new licence, renewal, change of vehicle or change of licence category
  • The licence history – when it was first issued (as indicated by the licence number), when the vehicle was first associated with it, and whether the licence category has been changed on it

Separate requirements exist for licence holders including being tax cleared and free from convictions. So, as a licence applicant or licence holder you will also need to be in contact with other agencies:

  • Revenue: maintain your tax clearance status
  • National Car Test: conduct the roadworthiness test required for all SPSV
  • Legal Metrology Services: taximeter sealing (verification)
  • Branding: Taxis require official front door branding
  • Roof sign suppliers: Taxis require a regulatory illuminated roof sign
  • Insurance: specific SPSV insurance required
  • An Gardaí Síochana: