Sheffield City Council are responsible for licensing private hire vehicles based in Sheffield. If you want to become a taxi driver in the city, you will need a car which meets their requirements. The document which deals with the specifications and standards required is long, so we’ve dug out the key points.

Please note that this article is correct at the time of publishing, (June 2023) but will not be proactively updated. You may want to check before you buy that your car meets the current requirements.

Emissions Standards – Private Hire Vehicles

All Sheffield taxis should meet the Euro VI emissions standard when first licensed. Some Euro V vehicles may still be on the road, you could consider buying a currently licensed vehicle but a more environmentally friendly vehicle will last you longer, and probably save you money on fuel.

There are two types of Euro VI vehicles, a Non-ULEV and a ULEV car. ULEV vehicles are either fully electric or have CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less. You can check this by referring to the vehicle V5C which will list the fuel type and the C02 emissions level.

A Non-ULEV car is one which doesn’t meet that definition.

Age and Testing

A Non-ULEV vehicle can be up to five years old when first licensed. This is based on the date of first registration listed on the V5C document. Vehicles will not be re-licensed after their 9th birthday.

Imported vehicles are aged based on their date of manufacture not their date of first registration.

A ULEV vehicle also can be up to five years old when first licensed. Licences can be renewed until the vehicle is 11 years old. As with Non-ULEVs, the date is taken from the V5C or in the case of an import, the date of manufacture.

For both types of vehicles, Sheffield City Council compliance testing should be carried out annually up to six years old and twice a year thereafter.

Musts and Must Nots

  • Euro VI
  • European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval or British National Type Approval.
  • Right-Hand Drive
  • 4 doors plus a boot
  • 4 – 8 passenger seats*
  • Seatbelts for all seats
  • Have an efficient heating system
  • Individual Vehicle Approval
  • Accident Damage
  • Cat A, B C or D write-off
  • Mismatched colour panels
  • Dirty or damaged interior
  • Significant signs of corrosion
  • 3-door, coupe or convertible
  • 4 seater including the driver, 2+2 etc
  • Window tints (except manufacturer standard)

*Seating capacity is determined by the authority. All seats must be 406mm wide as a minimum and a rear bench seat must be at least 1218mm wide.

Wheels and Tyres for Private Hire

The SCC policy requires that all Private Hire vehicles have a minimum of 2mm tyre tread, including the spare if you have one. The tread depth needs to be met across the middle 3/4 of the face of the tyre and around the entire circumference. There should be no cuts, bumps or tears.

This is in line with the road traffic act, except in tread depth, where a private car can have tyres of 1.6mm tread depth.

The tyres must be inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressures. Note that in order to turn off tyre pressure warning systems, some cars need the tyres to be slightly over-inflated. If you are going to a Compliance Test, make sure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure from the manual on the way.

Cars which don’t have a spare tyre can use the tyre inflation kit supplied. However, all Private Hire vehicles licensed in Sheffield MUST have a jack and wheel brace. Most modern cars don’t come with these so you will need to source one elsewhere.

You CAN NOT present your vehicle for a Compliance Test on a space-saver tyre, but you can use one if you have a puncture and have one in the boot just in case. If you arrive for a Compliance Test with a space saver fitted, your car will fail.

Size and Dimensions

All cars licensed in Sheffield must meet the following dimensions requirements:

Leg Room

Head Room

Luggage Space

Ride Height

Minimum 609mm between the base of the rear seat and the front seat in its rearmost position.

The minimum measurement between the floor of the car to the roof of the car must be at least 1092mm.

The minimum luggage capacity in Sheffield is 0.43 cubic meters and either a separate compartment (boot) or a solid separating partition between the passengers and the luggage area.

The maximum ride height is 460mm. This is measured from the ground to the top of the doorsill. If your chosen vehicle exceeds this height you must have electrically operated steps fitted, stowed beneath the vehicle and deployed via a switch in the driver’s seat area.

The step must not extend past the bodywork when stowed and should have a safety device which means that the handbrake can’t be removed while the step is deployed.

It must have a suitable non-slip covering and the edges clearly highlighted in a high visibility colour. This must be different to the colour of the vehicle.

A wheelchair user on a wheelchair ramp exiting a taxi.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles have additional requirements which will be covered in a later blog post.


Normal Doors

The vehicle must have a minimum of 4 doors, 2 on each side. This does not include the boot hatch. It must be easy to access the rear passenger space, so no moving seats forward for access.

If your vehicle is a minibus or similar with a single passenger area, only two doors accessible to the passengers are required.

SCC may on a case-by-case basis approve vehicles which don’t meet these requirements but permission should be sought before purchasing the vehicle.

Sliding Doors

For vehicles with sliding doors the rear door handle, (interior) must be clearly visible and easy to reach when the door is in the open position. The front and rear edges of the door must be marked with approved reflective strips.

There must be a sign which is placed in an approved position, linked to the passenger doors which illuminates saying door open. The sign must be at least 400sq cm and must not reduce the driver’s view to the rear.


Windows can be manual or electric. The passengers must be able to open a window if they want to.

All glazing must be in line with the Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations of 1986, Section 32. This deals with the level of tinting:

The front windscreen must not exceed 25% tint.

Front side door windows must not exceed 30% tint.

All other windows must not exceed 40% tint.

Cars with greater levels of tint from the factory may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Aftermarket tinting is not permitted.

A plug in hybrid vehicle with type 2 Mennkies cable.
A responsible operator will consider if alternative green technologies can benefit their business and the environment.

Other Considerations

Alternative Fuels:

Sheffield City Centre is now in a Clean Air Zone. Licensed Private Hire vehicles are subject to charges unless they meet the CAZ criteria. You may want to consider electric or hybrid vehicles. When considering alternative fuels you will want to take into account:

  • Where is your local filling station? Not all petrol stations carry LPG or CNG.

    However, most gas cars will also take petrol so you can run on petrol if you can’t find LPG.
  • Where does your car park at night? It’s not advisable to keep gas under pressure indoors. If you have a garage or an underground car park, you may want to steer clear of gas vehicles.
  • Does your preferred maintenance provider service dual-fuel vehicles?
  • Does the gas cylinder reduce the available boot space? There is a minimum boot capacity to meet for a private hire vehicle. Conventionally powered cars keep their fuel under the floor but a lot of dual-fuel cars have a second tank in the boot for the gas which may mean a petrol car is good for use as a taxi but the LPG version fails the Compliance Check.
  • Plug-In Hybrid or Self-Charging Hybrid? Do you have the ability to charge at home?
  • If you don’t have a charger, where are you going to plug your car in? Most hybrids cannot use rapid and ultra-rapid chargers.
  • Is the relatively short zero-emissions range worth the additional expense?
  • Does your preferred maintenance provider service hybrid vehicles? You may want to look for a local HEVRA-approved garage which will have high-voltage trained technicians.
  • Do you do mainly local work, or mainly airport runs? Self Charging hybrid vehicles do not generate electricity when running at a constant speed.
  • Does the added weight of the motor and battery affect your payload too much? Can you fit in all your passengers and their luggage without exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight?
Electric Vehicles
  • Where will you charge your car? Many electricity providers offer low-rate off-peak charging tariffs for electric vehicle users which will drastically reduce your fuel bills. So if you can charge at home it will offer you fantastic savings.*
  • Public charging is quite expensive. If you are going to use public rapid and ultra-rapid chargers, is it still affordable for you to go electric?
  • Payload. Electric vehicles are heavy due to the motor and battery weight. Can you still carry all your passengers and luggage?
  • What sort of work do you mainly do? If you are a general, around-town taxi, electric vehicles will make a lot of sense. If you are an airport-run service, will you have the range to get where you need to go and back again?^
  • What about the winter? Electric vehicles do not produce waste heat like combustion cars do. That means that to heat the cabin, they have to use additional electricity from the high-voltage battery. This will affect the range.^
  • Where will you maintain your vehicle? Very few independent garages will maintain an EV. You will need to either use the main dealer, or a HEVRA-approved garage for your maintenance.

*One of my colleagues who teaches in an electric vehicle has done 52,000 miles in 18 months. His average monthly fuel bill is £200.00 at current prices using smart charging at home and an EV-only tariff. ^Winter miles – take the WLTP range of the vehicle and remove around a third. Motorway miles – take the WLTP range of the vehicle and remove about a quarter.

Your Needs
  • Will this be your only vehicle? If so you need to make sure your car meets your personal needs too. Does it have a big enough boot for taking the family away on holiday? Can it tow your caravan?
  • Your comfort is key? Can you find a comfortable seating position for a long time in the driver’s seat? Airport runs can take a very long time, but even taxi work around town can have you spending many hours continuously at the wheel. Would you be comfortable for three or four hours constantly in the same position?
  • How much space is there behind your seat when you are comfortable? The SCC requirements are a minimum standard. Can you give additional legroom to your passengers?
  • How are you funding your purchase? Is it cash? Are you planning on financing the acquisition? Are there tax incentives or grants to take on a certain type of vehicle?

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