Tourist Information UK


Taxis or minicabs are very useful for traveling through large cities or in rural areas where public transport may not be available. They tend to be more expensive than public transport but their convenience sometimes makes them a popular choice. There are two types of service available in the UK, the taxi/Black cab' (public hire vehicle) or minicabs (private hire vehicle).

Taxis/Black Cabs

Some people will think that all taxis in England are similar to the Black cabs found in London but there are a variety of vehicles now used for 'taxi' services. A Black cab or taxi is a vehicle that can be hailed from the street when its light is on, hence the title public hire vehicle. You can also hire a black cab from a taxi rank. Taxis operate on a meter system which calculates charges depending on the time of day, the distance traveled and the speed at which you travel. When you get to the end of your destination you pay the fare displayed on the meter.

Taxis drivers in London are renowned for having very friendly and knowledgeable drivers. Drivers have to pass a test called the 'knowledge' to show that they know their way around the city but don’t expect this knowledge to extend outside of London. Taxis can carry up to five passengers but not very much luggage. They can also only travel at 50mph, which is fine in the city but not great for longer journeys.

A minicab is a private hire vehicle that is usually pre-booked by phone or they can be found at a cab rank or by going to the registered mincabs office. The cars are usually a saloon or a hatchback that is licensed to carry 4 passengers. MPVs are also sometimes available and are licensed to carry up to 8 passengers. There is no meter in a minicab so the fare is usually agreed before you travel. Minicabs usually have a set fare to places like train stations and airports. Minicabs do not have a sign on their roof and can not be hailed in the street. When you phone to book, they will ask the address from where you want to be picked up from and your intended destination.

Taxi ranks or cab ranks can be found at busy areas like train stations, busy shopping centres, bus stations or in town centres.


Minicab firms have to obtain a licence to operate and offer a very safe service.

However, there are illegal minicab firms in operation that will not be licensed and may not be safe to use. These firms will tout for your business by coming up to you and asking you if you need a taxi. In London for example, there will be illegal cab drivers touting for business in the busy West End or outside popular hotels. They are not allowed to do this. If you are approached, politely decline and find a genuine taxi or minicab. If a minicab does come to collect you, make sure that they know your name and your intended destination as they should have this information from your telephone booking. The car should also have a yellow licence plate on the rear of the car and the driver should have an identification badge.

If you are staying at a hotel, they will be able to give you the number of a local cab firm. Alternatively, to find a local minicab firm you can call 118 118 which is the yellow pages number and they will give you a choice of companies in your local area. Using the internet, you can try for local listings of taxi and mincab firms.