Civic Licensing – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Advice and guidance

This guidance is for current licence holders and anyone intending to apply for a new licence.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 sets out the rules for businesses and the public during the Covid-19 period of emergency.

Read the new regulations

Highland Licensing Committee meetings

The Highland Licensing Committee meeting on 12 May 2020 has been cancelled. If you are scheduled to attend this meeting, please do not attend.

Staff will contact you directly about alternative arrangements and, where possible, decisions may be taken without the need for a meeting under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation.

Any relevant party who would be entitled to be heard at a meeting will still be provided with the opportunity to be heard by means other than personal attendance i.e. telephone or written submissions.

Hearings will be deemed to take place on the day that written submissions etc. are considered (not the date they are lodged) and this date of determination will form the basis of calculating any further key dates for notifications of decisions and/or appeals.

Submitting new applications

We are asking customers to only submit essential applications and would request that these applications are made online.

Apply for a licence

We would also request that only essential paperwork is submitted and, if possible, please send this electronically to licensing@highland.gov.uk.

If you do not have scanned/electronic copies, please send photographs of the documentation ensuring that the image is clear and readable.

Please note that the Scottish Government have made amendments to the licensing legislation. Section 3 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 has been amended to prolong the time that local authorities have to consider applications. The licensing authority now has 12 months to determine the application.

Existing licence holders

The legislation has also been amended in relation to late applications for renewals. The time limits have been extended to allow Council’s to accept a late renewal application for up to 3 months after a licence expires, on cause shown.

Due to the current circumstances, we will allow all civic government licences and HMO licences due to expire on or before 31 May 2020 to be automatically extended by a period of 3 months. For example, if your licence was due to expire on 30 April 2020 it will now expire on 31 July 2020. You will be licensed to continue to trade over the extended period, subject to Government guidance on Covid-19. We will continue to review the position and may apply a further extension to licences if necessary.

However, please make sure you apply for your renewal before the date of the extended expiry date.

If you apply for your renewal prior to the date of the extended expiry date, the existing licence will continue until the determination of your renewal application. If you do not, then there is no automatic continuation and it is very likely that you will have to apply for the grant of a new licence and would not be able to trade until this has been determined.

Taxi/Private Hire Car Drivers

General advice

Drivers that continue to work should follow the health advice on the Government website:

Read the latest advice

We advise that all drivers follow the Government issued advice and take simple and sensible steps at all times including encouraging drivers to:

• Always carry tissues and use them to catch coughs and sneezes

• Dispose of used tissues in the bin as soon as possible

• Wash hands with soap and water, or use sanitiser gel, to kill germs

• Clean surfaces regularly with sanitising wipes or spray to get rid of germs

Further information

If drivers are worried about Covid-19 symptoms, they should follow NHS guidance.

Read the NHS guidance

Taxi/ Private Hire Car Medicals

If you or a member of your household has Covid-19 or any of the symptoms and are self-isolating, please do not attend any medical appointment. Please contact your area office or licensing@highland.gov.uk to confirm this.

If your medical appointment is cancelled, we will be in touch with you directly as to the appropriate action.

Taxi / Private Hire Vehicle inspections

If you have a scheduled inspection you should still plan to attend. If inspections are cancelled, operators will be updated accordingly.

If you are unable to attend an appointment as you or a member of your household have Covid-19 or you are self-isolating, please notify us as soon as possible at licensing@highland.gov.uk

Please also ensure that your vehicle has a valid MOT and insurance certificate and is roadworthy at all times when in use.

Vehicle substitutions

At the moment, a number of inspection garages are still operating so the application procedure will be the same. Please apply online at the following link. Fees can be paid by card online to the Service Centre on 01349 886605.

Apply for a taxi licence

As the licensing offices are currently closed, we cannot issue new licence plates. During this period of emergency, subject to the vehicle passing its inspection, you can take the licence plates from the previous vehicle and attach them to the new car. You can do this when you receive email confirmation from the Council that the substitution has been approved. Please keep a copy of this email (ideally print a copy) so that you can prove that the car has been approved if you are asked by the Police or a member of the public.

Public Entertainment – events

If you have already submitted an application and have or may have to postpone your event due to Covid-19, please notify us at licensing@highland.gov.uk

If you wish to have the same event on another date you will not be charged for the change of date. However, we may still require updated information from you in relation to the event.

Further guidance

We will continue to update the guidance as necessary. If you have an urgent or specific enquiry, please contact us by email – licensing@highland.gov.uk

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