What’s this Certificate of Initial Fitness got to do with me??
Many people who want to hire a limousine in the UK don’t realise the company they are hiring from is probably operating illegaly and because of this, they are not properly licensed and therefore not properly covered by insurance either!
Hiring a limousine in the United Kingdom should be enjoyable and ultimately you should feel confident that the company serving your party is fully licensed and insured. It is the responsibility of the Limo Operator to make sure their limos and other vehicles are completely safe and meet all guidelines currently set by the government.
Read on to find out where the law stands regarding limousines for hire in the UK.
The Law Regarding Limousines
…and why you should care?
A ride to the races in a limousine with your girlfrinds? Going to town for a big night out maybe? Whatever your special occasion, it should be a lot of fun. But, (there’s always a BUT isn’t there?) – you need to be aware of some very important laws which many UK limousine operators are breaking. The laws are most important because they are there to ensure your safety, but they also give us an idea of how credible a limo hire company may be.
You’ll be shocked to know that currently, less than 50% of the limousines available for hire throughout the UK are not licensed properly. They know the law and the required standards, but many just choose to ignore them.
Under current laws, the majority of limousines are restricted to carrying no more than eight passengers unless they have COIF (Certificate of Initial Fitness). This law was introduced due to the low ceilings and inadequate safety exit access, which is dangerous when the limo is over crowded.
If the vehicle operators want to carry more passengers, they need to register the vehicle as a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV), likening it to a bus, and carry a PCV licence. However, the Vehicle Operator Service Agency (VOSA) who issues the licences, will not recognise stretch limos as PCVs as they do not meet the safety requirements for this class of vehicle.
This includes the oversized limousines, such as the stretch Hummer, some of which are stated as being able to carry up to twenty eight passengers! Anyone stating this are doing so without proper licensing. Therefore, many limo hire companies are taking advantage of the public and police ignorance of the passenger laws and operating illegally.
Do not worry all is not lost …
To obtain a PCV, vehicles need to have a certificate of initial fitness (COIF) and very few new Ford Excursion (140″) and Hummer limos have now passed these to qualify for the COIF.
To get around this law, some limousine operators have registered their limos as minibuses. However, simply being registered as a minibus does not give operators the right to transport more than eight passengers. They STILL need to obtain a CoIF for the vehicle! In fact this is the statement from the Transport Office website …
“A Public Service Vehicle (PSV) with more than 8 passenger seats (excluding the driver) cannot legally be used for carrying passengers on the highway until it has been issued with a Certificate of Initial Fitness (COIF). This includes all buses, coaches and minibuses that carry passengers for hire and reward. The COIF is issued by a VOSA certifying officer when the vehicle meets all the relevant PSV requirements.”
In April of this year, figures were released showing that up to 6,000 limos were operating illegally; this is around half of all the limos operating in the UK!
There are even limo hire companies who justify these actions by claiming that since they were allowed to import and register these vehicles, that gives them the right to operate them as they wish. This is not the case , so make sure when you hire a limousine for your next special occasion, don’t take the word of the operator when he tells you the limo can seat all 14 of your friends!
Please be careful who you book with. It’s not worth the risk!
Legal Loophole Closed
It is even more important now that you check before reserving a limousine in the UK for your special occasion because they have closed the loophole so many limo providers are taking advantage of ie. registering their larger limos as minibuses.
Here is a reproduction of the document released by the Transport Office and can be found here… http://tinyurl.com/9p4xag
The Pre-Registration Inspection (PRI) scheme is an enforcement initiative to prevent vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats from being registered in Great Britain if they do not meet legal requirements.
The PRI check assesses a vehicle’s compliance with construction and use standards. This check is targeted at new vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats that do not require type approval, such as limousines.
A large proportion of vehicles used in the limousine industry are being operated illegally as PSVs, as they have been registered with the DVLA without type approval/certification when they cannot meet Certificate of Initial Fitness (COIF) standard. This has resulted in an increase in non-compliant vehicles in
Vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats can now only be registered if they have
passed a PRI or been issued with a COIF. In 2011 the European Community Whole
Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) for this vehicle type will make the PRI scheme
obsolete. For more information visit http://www.transportoffice.gov.uk
VOSA Introduce PSV Impounding
VOSA examiners will soon have the power to impound Public Service Vehicles (PSV). This is an important step forward in improved road safety, giving us the opportunity to immediately remove illegal vehicles from the road.
VOSA’s overall aim is to introduce a more stringent sanction to deal with illegal PSV
operators who continue to operate without a PSV Operator’s Licence. VOSA will ensure that the PSV impounding scheme is implemented in the most effective way for the industry and VOSA front line staff.
The legal provision for PSV impounding has been included in the recent Local Transport Bill which is expected to secure Royal Assent in 2008.
It is expected that the sanctions will come into force on 1 October 2009, with VOSA making use of them with immediate effect.
Some useful links for Limousine Operators…
Be a law abiding limo operator today – follow these links…
Application for Certificate of Initial Fitness (PSV417) pdf … Download the application form for the Certificate of Intial Fitness
Public Protection at Risk from Illegal Operation of Limousnes pdf … Quite a lengthy pdf giving the full current law regarding limos and limo hire in the UK.