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Road Users

Small public service vehicles (SPSV)

Definitions, licensing, testing, child car seats in taxis, seat belts.  

This content is for general information only. It does not, and is not intended to, provide legal or technical advice or to represent a legal interpretation of the matters it addresses.

Frequently asked questions

It is a ‘small public service vehicle’ that can carry up to eight passengers excluding the driver and is used for hire or reward e.g., taxis, hackneys, wheelchair accessible taxis and wheelchair accessible hackneys and limousines.

Yes. Both the vehicle and the driver need a licence. You will need to contact the National Transport Authority ( NTA) for more information.

Under the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, the NTA is the regulator of all SPSVs in Ireland.

If you are considering fitting your vehicle with perspex panels or any other physical barriers during the Covid19 pandemic, you should contact the vehicle’s original manufacturer or authorised distributor. They are best placed to advise if there are any safety implications or if it is possible to carry out the proposed fitting without affecting the performance of the vehicle’s safety features, e.g. airbags etc.

You must also ensure that such installation does not present a danger to the driver, occupants or any other road user. It is important to remember that, under Irish road traffic regulations, it is the responsibility of the owner and or driver to ensure that their vehicle is maintained in a roadworthy condition at all times when used in a public place.

Glazing for motor vehicles must meet with the requirements of UNECE Regulation 43 - Uniform provisions concerning the approval of safety glazing materials and their installation on vehicles. This Regulation sets out standards for safety glazing materials intended for installation as windscreens or other panes, or as partitioning. Below is an extract taken from this regulation regarding the general requirements for safety glazing;

General Requirements

6.1. All glazing materials, including glazing material for the manufacture of windscreens, shall be such that, in the event of shattering, the danger of bodily injury is reduced as far as possible. The glazing material shall be sufficiently resistant to the incidents likely to occur in normal traffic, and to atmospheric and temperature conditions, chemical action, combustion and abrasion.

6.2. Safety glazing materials shall in addition be sufficiently transparent, shall not cause any noticeable distortions of objects as seen through the windscreen, and shall not give rise to any confusion between the colours used in road-traffic signs and signals. In the event of the windscreen's shattering, the driver shall still be able to see the road clearly enough to be able to brake and stop his vehicle safely.

Please note, the regular light transmittance in the case of a windscreen and other glazing that is located in a position requisite for driving visibility, shall not be less than 70%.

It should be noted that if such panels or glazing is being fitted to a vehicle that is used for ‘hire and reward’ i.e. commercial purposes, it is classed as a work place environment and will be governed by health and safety legislation. It may be useful to contact the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for information on additional health and safety / legal obligations that arise on this issue.

For more information, please see the HSE Coronavirus- COVID-19 Public Health Advice and Guidance webpage. 

Yes. SPSVs under 10 years of age must be tested every year and those 10 years or older must be tested every six months. The NTA cannot grant an SPSV licence without a valid NCT certificate less than 90 days old. A vehicle under three months of age that has travelled less than 3,000 km does not need an NCT. See NTA website for more information.

The NCT is a basic check on the roadworthiness of the vehicle.

The Suitability Test examines whether the SPSV is suitable to carry passengers e.g., if it is it clean, a suitable size to carry passengers, all the relevant passenger information displayed etc.

The seatbelt regulations state that a driver is responsible for ensuring that people under the age of 17 wear their seat belt. Anyone over this age is responsible for their own safety and commit an offence if they refuse to wear a seat belt where one is fitted and operating properly.

No. There is no legal requirement for SPSVs to carry child car seats.

Yes. Under S.I. No. 190 of 1963 of Road Traffic Construction, Equipment and Use Regulations 1963, taxis are required to carry a number of pieces of safety equipment. See Initial Suitability Inspection Manual on NTA website for further details.

Yes. It is a requirement under Article 79 of S. I. No. 190 of 1963 of Road Traffic Construction, Equipment and Use Regulations 1963.

General road traffic law requires that the front windscreen and front door side glass be clear, the remaining glass may be dark. All other SPSV windows next to a passenger must allow at least 70% light transmission. See Initial Suitability Inspection Manual for more information.

Wheelchair accessible taxis and hackneys are SPSVs that are able to carry a person travelling in their wheelchair. Strict standards are in place in relation to the specialist equipment, the structural integrity and the space provided. Prior to licensing, all vehicles must be certified by a qualified technical assessor. For more information, see Initial Suitability Inspection Manual.

Yes, it is permissible. However, there are restrictions on advertising permitted on all types of SPSV vehicles:

  • It is illegal to have any inessential object on a vehicle that is in a position where it is likely to strike any person in the event of a collision and cause injury.
  • If the driver’s view of the road and other traffic either to the front or side of the vehicle is limited or distorted by advertising signage that prevents them from driving safely, then this is also illegal and should be removed.

See Initial Suitability Inspection Manual for further information.

Related pages

Drivers of other vehicles

Vehicle standards and FAQs for special purpose vehicles, including motorhomes, ride-on lawnmowers, motorised wheelchairs, hearses.