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Consider the following scenario in the UK?

  • I'll pick up 1-3 people unknown to me beforehand with my privately owned and privately insured vehicle
  • I'll drive them around the city for an agreed amount of time and drop them off at the exact point I picked them up
  • They will pay me an amount of money agreed to before the trip

Is this a taxi service? Do I need a commercial/taxi licence?

  • I've edited your question to try to make it clearer, but let me know if I've misunderstood or changed the meaning. – user3851 Jul 19 '16 at 20:15
  • @Dawn They won't be friends. I'll meet them for the first time when I pick them up – Иво Недев Jul 19 '16 at 20:16
  • From the original post, I thought you said you would become friends before driving them around. I'll edit again. – user3851 Jul 19 '16 at 20:16
  • Probably completely illegal, but just how illegal that is depends on where you are in the UK. Maybe check gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/… – user6726 Jul 19 '16 at 20:17
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It depends somewhat on which city you're talking about, but this sounds very similar to the business model of Uber. It almost sounds like you're considering becoming an Uber driver, with the exception that you're making trip destinations match their origin. Uber is active in cities like London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, etc. and has a sizeable base of both riders and drivers, indicating a regulatory environment that is favorable or at least not sufficiently hostile to such a model.

London has regulations restricting use of taximeters, but last fall the high court ruled that Uber's app does not constitute a taximeter that would violate the regulations. The mayor said this was the primary issue around the legality of the service there, and this is the main regulatory dispute in Wikipedia's list (which may not be all inclusive). January headlines from this year heralded the lack of regulatory obstacles to Uber's operations in that city.

You should probably first check with your insurance company, especially if there are FAQs on their website or details in your insurance policy, because you might not be covered under that policy on those drives without some additional premium.

Check out the UK's Licence Finder to help find out what licences you might need for business activities. Also check out the government's official page on "Driving licences for taxis and private hire vehicles" for information on Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licenses.


As an aside, a perspective on how times have changed:

1998:

  • Don't get in strangers' cars
  • Don't meet people from the Internet

2016:

  • Literally summon strangers from Internet to get in their car
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    It sounds rather more like a tour than taxi service. – phoog Jul 20 '16 at 2:43
  • @phoog I agree, and I still think Uber is the closest model in terms of applicable regulations. – WBT Jul 20 '16 at 3:04
  • For the purpose of answering the questions "is this a taxi service" and "do I need a taxi license," perhaps, for which the answer appears to be "no." Probably not for the question "do I need a commercial license," though, for which the answer is probably "yes." – phoog Jul 20 '16 at 3:10
  • Commercial licenses usually have more to do with the size of the vehicle you're driving than the purpose you're driving it for. – WBT Jul 20 '16 at 3:11
  • That is not generally the case in the US in my experience. – phoog Jul 20 '16 at 3:13
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First, it makes you a business because you take money. There are some very low limits where HMRC (the UK inland revenue) doesn't care much, but above that you must either start a limited company, or fill out a tax self assessment where you declare the money as income from being self employed. If you don't tell them, that's tax evasion.

If you transport people for money, then you need a license that allows you to transport people for money, and you need a car insurance that insures you when you transport people for money. If you don't have that insurance, and there is an accident, then the insurance company will tell you that your normal license is void, you won't get a penny, victims won't get a penny, victims will sue you, and this may be one of the situations where having a limited liability company doesn't protect you.

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