Signage and Advertising on Private Hire Vehicles Consultation

Closed 31 Dec 2017

Opened 5 Oct 2017

Feedback Updated 8 Jan 2018

We Asked

What you thought about the signage and advertising on private hire vehicles: are there too many signs on private hire vehicles or not enough; are they too big or too small; do they provide the right information; what do you think about their design and colour?

You Said

Responses were mixed with the majority favouring the existing colour scheme used for BCC signage and in general the current signage used. The exception being that the majority of respondents did not believe semi-permanent door signs to be necessary.

The majority of respondents did however feel that private hire vehicles should display the name and contact details of the company its driver is working for in the form of a magnetic sign. 

In relation to advertising on private hire vehicles responses were more split.  

We Did

The results of this consultation will form part of a report which will be heard and approved by members at a future Licensing and Public Protection Committee before the signage requirements can be amended.

Results Updated 11 Jan 2018

There were 110 responses received for this consultation.  A report is being prepared to be heard at a future Licensing and Public Protection Committee meeting.


Birmingham City Council is reviewing the content and appearance of the signs displayed by private hire vehicles that it licences.

There are a number of reasons why we require vehicles to display signs:

  • Legal requirements: a vehicle must display a plate at the rear (similar in style to a vehicle registration plate) to identify it as a licensed private hire vehicle
  • Public Safety: it is important that the general public can easily distinguish private hire vehicles from vehicles that are not licensed. Private hire drivers have to be checked by local authorities to make sure that they are suitable to be a driver and that they do not have a criminal background that would make them a danger to the public. Private hire vehicles are checked by the local authority to make sure that they are roadworthy.
  • Provide information to customers: signs contain information about the name of the driver, the name of the operator that the driver is working for and information to help the passenger identify the vehicle in case they need to make a complaint about the driver or vehicle.
  • Identification by law enforcement agencies: the police and licensing enforcement officers need to be able to identify licensed vehicles to ensure that vehicles are being driven and operated within the conditions of their licence.

At present Birmingham City Council uses a high contrast black and yellow scheme for all of the official signage displayed on private hire vehicles. This colour scheme was chosen because it was recommended as a combination more easily visible to people with visual impairment.

The main licence plate is a hard plastic sign similar in shape and design to a vehicle number plate, although slightly smaller. This plate is a legal requirement. The plate is fixed to the rear of the vehicle and displays the vehicle licence number, registration number, expiry date, maximum number of passengers and the name of the vehicle’s proprietor (this need not be the driver).

Highly visibility ‘semi-permanent’ vinyl signs on the rear doors, repeat the vehicle licence and registration numbers to assist passengers in identifying a vehicle from the side. They are also intended to make it more difficult to anonymise a vehicle, or to hide its status as a licensed private hire vehicle. Drivers must not remove these signs except to replace them when their licence is renewed.

A small double sided card measuring 13.5 cm by 10 cm is displayed inside the nearside bottom corner of the windscreen which shows the licence number, registration number, maximum number of passengers and proprietor’s name on both sides, so as to be visible to an observer outside the vehicle and to a front seat passenger.

In addition to the signs described above the vehicle must also display an approved operator sign on the front doors. This sign identifies which operator the driver is working for and each operator has a unique sign. These signs are magnetic to facilitate removal when a vehicle is not in use as a private hire vehicle and to allow signs to be swapped when a vehicle is operated by different operators at different times (for example when a vehicle is used by family members who work for different companies, or where a driver works for one operator, but undertakes contract work for another).

Advertising may only be placed on a vehicle by an agent authorised by Birmingham City Council and is limited to displays on the rear window. Advertising content is subject to the same restrictions as hackney carriage vehicles with the addition they must not feature advertising promoting a private hire company. No other advertising or signage is allowed.

A number of suggestions have been made as to how the signage requirements could be amended, but we want to know what you think.

Why We Are Consulting

We want to know what you think: are there too many signs on private hire vehicles or not enough; are they too big or too small; do they provide the right information; what do you think about their design and colour?


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