COVID-19 Guidance

Passengers are recommended to use a facial covering, carry a hand sanitiser and wash their hands before and after they travel to help reduce prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.

This follows new guidance issued by the Government to support local transport services and help residents who need to travel by taxis safely.

Reflecting these national messages, North Devon Council has set out the following advice for the public:

  • if you can work from home, please continue to do so
  • if you need to travel for work, please avoid public transport wherever possible
  • do not expect to return to the transport network you were used to before. The number of people who can be safely transported on buses and trains is severely constrained to enable social distancing
  • if you need to travel, please try to walk or cycle as much as possible, if you are able to
  • please shop locally and use local leisure facilities to help ease demand on roads and public transport
  • if using public transport, or taxi and PHVs, please use a facial covering, carry a hand sanitiser and wash your hands before and after you travel

The latest government advice is that, although face coverings are unlikely to prevent you from getting the virus, they could help prevent you from giving it to others. Face coverings are particularly important where two metre social distancing is hard to maintain.

Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing, which remain the most important actions. The Government has urged the public not to buy medical grade masks, which should be reserved for front line health and care workers, and instead make their own face coverings at home.

Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus but not showing symptoms. People with coronavirus symptoms, as well as members of their household, should continue to follow the advice to self-isolate.

The Government's full safer travel guidance is available on their website.

Are you taxi aware?

Although Hackney carriages (taxis) can be hailed in the street, private hire vehicles must be pre-booked. If a private hire vehicle is travelling along a road, looking for customers, they are acting illegally, are uninsured and are potentially dangerous.

Please plan your journey and take a taxi or private hire vehicle you can trust by following these rules:

  • Make sure you only ever use a licensed vehicle and know the difference between a Hackney carriage and a private hire vehicle
  • Pre-book your journey wherever possible - especially if you are travelling alone
  • Wait for your booked vehicle to arrive - never get into another vehicle if it arrives in advance of your booked vehicle
  • Know where the local taxi ranks are 
  • Always check a driver's ID badge - a driver should always wear this or have it clearly displayed, which confirms they are licensed
  • Ride with friends where possible - sharing a vehicle is a great idea and always sit in the back seats
  • Only enter a vehicle when you are sure - if you have any doubts, don’t get in and order another vehicle
  • Check you are paying the right fare 

The difference between a Hackney carriage and private hire vehicle

Hackney carriages (taxis) can be booked in advance from an office, hailed from the street when the 'For Hire' light is on or hired from a taxi rank.

When the 'For Hire' light is on, drivers can't refuse a fare without a reasonable excuse.

A licensed taxi will have a top light and can be recognised by a white plate on the back of the vehicle with the council's logo and a four-figure number with an 'HV' prefix.

 white plate on the back of the vehicle with the council's logo and a four-figure number with an 'HV' prefix

Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance from an office and can't pick you up from taxi ranks or be hailed from the street.

They can be recognised by a yellow plate on the back of the vehicle with the council's logo and a three-figure number with a 'PV' prefix.

yellow plate on the back of the vehicle with the council's logo and a three-figure number with a 'PV' prefix


All taxis must have a meter fitted within the vehicle, which calculates the fare for a journey.

The council has set the maximum fares (pdf 158KB) that can be charged for taxi journeys and these include any VAT. However, it is up to the individual taxi owner whether or not they decide to charge the maximum fare. Information of the rates they charge should be displayed in the vehicle for you to clearly see.

Maximum fares vary depending on what time and day you travel. There are also different maximum fares for how many other passengers you are travelling with. For example, there are two different rates - one for up to four passengers and another for five to eight passengers.

Taxi meters are required to be switched on when you are seated at the start of your journey, and then if a driver wishes to make any discount, he can do so at the end of a journey.

You should not be charged more than the price displayed on the meter for the journey and any waiting time. For journeys that end outside the district, taxi drivers may use the meter or agree a fare with the passenger before the journey starts. 

A taxi driver can only charge a fare that is calculated from the point where you start your journey.  

Private hire fares are usually charged by a set amount per mile or a negotiated price. North Devon Council has no authority over these charges.

Your rights as a passenger

When you have hired a taxi or pre-booked a private hire vehicle you have certain rights. These are:

  • the driver must only charge the fare that is being shown on the meter unless the fare is agreed before the journey starts
  • the driver must comply with any instructions you give, such as the route
  • the driver must take you to your destination by the shortest route possible
  • the driver must not allow other passengers to share the vehicle without your agreement
  • when requested, the driver should assist in loading and unloading luggage and should also carry it to and from a house, station or place where you are picked up or set down
  • drivers are required to offer you reasonable assistance to the car

Lost property

At the end of a driver's shift, drivers must carry out a search of their taxi or private hire vehicle for property that may have been left.

If any property has been left in a taxi or private hire vehicle by a passenger, is found by or handed to the driver, the driver is expected to complete a found property form on the police website. 

Most found property does not need to be taken to a police station, unless the items are:

  • mobile phones, laptops,cameras - anything with an internal memory
  • personal ID - such as a passport, driving licence, bank card, utility bills
  • drugs
  • significant amount of money

Those items that do not need to be taken to a police station should be kept by the driver for at least 28 days (providing arrangements have not been made for their collection).

How to make a complaint

It is an offence for a taxi driver to charge more than the maximum fare. If you believe that a taxi driver has overcharged you or unreasonably prolonged your journey in time or distance (other than legitimate reasons such as to avoid congestion or roadworks), please contact the council’s Licensing team. We will treat any such allegation seriously and robustly investigate any complaints made.

If you want to raise any other complaint about a North Devon Council licensed vehicle or driver, you may choose to take up your complaint with the driver directly.

Alternatively, make a note of the driver's name and badge number, vehicle plate number (which is shown on the back of the vehicle and in the windscreen) and vehicle registration number, and again, please contact us

Further information