Assistance Dogs and Taxis
What are my rights?
Drivers of licensed taxis have been under a duty to carry, free of charge, any guide, hearing and certain other assistance dogs travelling with a disabled person. Since 31 March 2004, a similar duty has applied to the drivers of licensed private hire vehicles (PHVs). In addition, PHV operators will be under a duty to accept a booking made by, or on behalf of, a disabled person and will not be allowed to make an additional charge for carrying an assistance dog.
It is important to note that drivers of licensed taxis and PHVs can still reuse to accept a fare for the same reason that they might refuse any other passenger, for example, if your destination is outside their licensing area.
What types of dog are covered?
Guide Dogs: those trained by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association;
Hearing Dogs: those trained by the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People; and
Other Assistance Dogs: those trained to assist other disabled people by Dogs for the Disabled, Support Dogs or Canine Partners.
Taxi and private hire vehicle drivers have been told how to identify these animals, so it is important that guide dogs wear a harness and other assistance dogs wear a jacket with the name of the charity that trained them. If an identification card was issued for the dog, this should also be carried. Dogs should remain on the floor and under control at all times.
What happens if a driver won't take a dog?
A driver who refuses to carry an assistance dog, or makes a charge for carrying it, is guilty of an offence and could be fined up to £1,000 unless he or she has an exemption (see below for an explanation of which drivers are exempt from the duty).
Some drivers are exempt from the duty, how will I know which ones?
Drivers of taxis or private hire vehicles who can prove to their licensing authority that they have a medical condition, such as severe asthma, which is aggravated by contact with dogs may apply for an exemption. A driver who has been granted an exemption will display a 'Notice of Exemption' on the windscreen or dashboard of their vehicle.
There are no exemptions available for operators.
Who should I contact if I have a complaint?
You should report any problems to the local licensing authority (part of district or borough councils, unitary authorities or The Public Carriage Office in London). A list of local authorities is available here and you should ask for the taxi or private hire vehicle licensing section. It would be helpful if you could supply the vehicle registration number and taxi/private hire license number, the taxi driver's badge number or the private hire operating firm name when contacting the licensing office.