The existing law stipulates provisions on the use of private cars for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward. According to section 52(3) of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374), no person shall drive or use a private car; or suffer or permit a private car to be driven or used for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward unless a hire car permit is in force in respect of the vehicle.
 
Under Regulation 14(1) of the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374D), the Commissioner for Transport may for the purpose of authorising the use of a private car for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward, issue in respect of the private car a hire car permit for a specific type of service.  A hire car permit will only be issued to the registered owner of the private car.
 
A hire car permit is non-transferable. It will be cancelled once the ownership of the concerned private car is transferred to another person.
 
Types of Hire Car Permits
Under Regulation 14(3)(b) of Cap. 374D, the Commissioner for Transport may issue to the applicant a hire car permit if he is of the opinion that the type of hire car service specified in the application is reasonably required. Regulation 15(5) further sets out the restrictions on the issue of hire car permits and considerations for issue. At present, the Transport Department mainly issues the following types of hire car permits:
TypePurpose
(a) Hotel Hire Car Service For the carriage of guests of a designated hotel
(b) Tour Hire Car Service For the carriage of clients of a designated tourist agent
(c) Private Service (Limousine) Hire Car For the carriage of clients of a contracted company, or individuals requiring personalized high-end transportation
(d) Private Service (Limousine - Cross Boundary) Hire Car For the carriage of clients of a contracted company, or individuals requiring personalized high-end transportation crossing the boundary.
(e) Private Service Hire Car For the carriage of residents of an area where there is no or inadequate transport

 

Using illegal hire car services can put passengers at risk, as the vehicle's third party insurance may be invalid if there's an accident. The Transport Department has launched the Online Checking System for Hire Car Permit to facilitate the public in checking whether a private car with a particular registration mark has been issued with a valid HCP for carriage of passengers for hire or reward in advance of an intended journey.

To access the Online Checking System for Hire Car Permit, please visit the webpage below:

http://www.gov.hk/hirecarpermit

 

Contract Hire Car Permits Selection Board
All hire car permit applications are to be considered by the Contract Hire Car Permits Selection Board. The Selection Board will assess whether the applicant has met all the established objective criteria and fully demonstrated a genuine need for issue of a hire car permit. The Selection Board will consider the relevant legal requirements and other factors relevant to the application; and then make a recommendation on the approval or rejection of the application to the Commissioner for Transport. On the Selection Board's recommendation, the Commissioner for Transport will decide to approve or reject an application. The Selection Board is chaired by a directorate officer of Transport Department. Its members include official representatives from the Transport and Housing Bureau and Transport Department and non-official members. Please refer to this link for the composition of the Selection Board.
 
Application for Hire Car Permits
Please refer to the relevant application form for application details.
For details about application for operation of cross-boundary hire car services, please refer to the following this link.
 
New Measures with effect from 1 February 2017
 
Pre-application Assessment
In order to provide more flexibility to potential applicants for hire car permits and facilitate new market entrants, the Transport Department introduces an optional "pre-application assessment" for any party who is interested in applying for hire car permits. Interested parties may make a request for "pre-application assessment" without the need to submit private car registration documents. They can therefore be informed of the likelihood of having their applications for hire car permits approved before further investing and purchasing vehicles.
For each and every request submitted for "pre-application assessment", the Contract Hire Car Permits Selection Board will be consulted before Transport Department informs the requestor of the result. It is important to note that the "pre-application assessment" results will only be for reference and will not bind the Commissioner for Transport in exercising the powers to make a decision on an application for hire car permit in accordance with the law when an application is formally submitted.
Requests for "pre-application assessment" are accepted from 1 February 2017. A "pre-application assessment" request can be made by completing the relevant forms, which can be downloaded from this link.
 
Special Considerations to Applications for Private Service (Limousine) Hire Car Permits
Currently Transport Department considers a whole host of factors when assessing application for Private Service (Limousine) Hire Car Permits, including hiring records and future service contracts provided by an applicant, to evaluate if the application satisfies the legal requirement of the type of hire car service in the application being "reasonably required". To facilitate new market entrants, special consideration on individuals merit may be given to applicants for Private Service (Limousine) Hire Car Permits who are unable to produce the required hiring records or future service contracts. Such applicants should provide adequate justifications and supporting information about the proposed business model / case to support their applicants. If applications are approved on grounds of special considerations, brand new vehicles with a taxable value of more than $400,000 should be deployed. For the purpose of this condition, brand new vehicle means at the time of submission of applications, the vehicle is within one year from the date of first registration as a "brand new vehicle" in Hong Kong or, in the case of vehicles not first registered in Hong Kong as a "brand new vehicle", within one year from the "Year of Manufacture". This arrangement comes into effect from 1 February 2017.
 
New Requirements on Age of Vehicles for Private Service (Limousine) Hire Car Permits
In order to ensure that hire cars are of the quality that befits its positioning as a higher quality point-to-point personalized transport service, with effect from 1 February 2017 vehicles to be deployed under a Private Service (Limousine) Hire Car Permit application should have a minimum taxable value of over $300,000 and should be less than 7 years old from the date of first registration as a "brand new vehicle" in Hong Kong (viz. aged 6 year or below) at the time of the application. For a vehicle not first registered in Hong Kong as a "brand new vehicle", it should be within 6 years from the "Year of Manufacture" at the time of the application.
In addition, a new hire car permit condition is introduced for all new applications for Private Service (Limousine) Hire Car Permits submitted on or after 1 February 2017. Under the condition, upon replacement of vehicle, if any, the replacement vehicle should not be older than the vehicle being replaced. The same requirement is also applied as a hire car permit condition for all existing private service (limousine) hire cars replaced on or after 1 February 2019.
 
Frequently-asked Questions
A set of frequently asked questions on hire car permits can be found here.
 
Contact
For enquiries on hire car permits, please contact the Public Vehicles Unit of this Department at 2804 2577.