Q. What is a driver-guide?
A. Driver-guides provide their own vehicle licensed by Orkney Islands Council to carry up to eight passengers (see below for details). Some of our members are licensed commercial vehicle drivers and can offer tours in larger vehicles.
Q. What is a step-on guide?
A. Step-on guides do not have their own licensed vehicle but can join you as a guide in your own vehicle, whether that is a car, minibus or coach, as long as they are not driving. Step-on guides may also hire a suitably licensed vehicle and driver (e.g. private hire car, taxi, minibus or coach) on your behalf and join you and in that vehicle.
Q. Can I hire a vehicle whilst I'm in Orkney and have one of your guides drive it for me?
A. No - this is illegal and would also be in breach of your insurance cover with the hire company. If you hire a car or minibus for your party you must drive it yourself. Please consider the other options available e.g. driver-guide or step-on guide with appropriately licensed hired vehicle.
Q. How can I tell if my driver-guide's vehicle has the necessary licences and insurance?
A. Our driver-guides hold either a private hire vehicle licence (red plate) or a taxi licence (yellow plate) for their tour vehicles (up to 8 seats), issued by the Orkney Islands Council (OIC), together with a personal taxi or private hire vehicle licence also issued by the OIC. To gain these licences the tour vehicle's roadworthiness and insurance status has been checked, whilst the driver has been checked for criminal convictions, identity and driving history. The current list of holders is available on the Orkney Islands Council website and the red or yellow licence plates should be affixed to the vehicle - if these are not present the vehicle is NOT licensed by by the OIC to carry paying passengers. Should you be offered a tour in a vehicle not displaying the red or yellow licence plate we would suggest that you carefully question the driver of such a vehicle as to their bona fides.
Isles Exemption: The only exemption to the above is in the outer isles of Orkney i.e. one of the islands where you need to take a ferry ride to get there. Driver-guides in these islands may legally offer tours in the islands only (not in Mainland Orkney) in vehicles that do not have a private hire/taxi licence but they should still have hire and reward insurance on their vehicle.
Q. How can I tell if the minibus or coach hired for my group has the necessary licences and insurance and a qualified driver?
A. For vehicles carrying more than 8 passengers there should be a Public Services Vehicle Operators licence issued by the Department of Transport affixed to the front left of the windscreen. If this is not present the vehicle is not licensed, the driver and vehicle are uninsured and committing a criminal offence. The driver of such a vehicle should also hold a personal Public Services Vehicle Driver's Licence.
Q. Can I contact you to book a guide?
A. No, but you may use our contact all guides form to send your tour enquiry to all of our members, and any with availability will contact you direct.
Q. How far in advance should I book a tour?
A. As far as possible as there are many more visitors than guides available during the peak season.
Q. What information should I supply when contacting a guide?
A. Please answer the questions on our contact form in as much details as possible.
Q. How much does a tour cost, do I have to pay in advance and what happens if I cancel my tour?
A. All of our guides are self-employed, set their own fees and cancellation policy. Terms should be agreed with your guide on booking. Please see our Booking a guide page for illustrative tour prices.
Q. I've come across someone calling themselves an 'Orkney tour guide' but they're not on your website - are they a qualified guide or not?
A. Please see About Us for information about the Scottish Tourist Guide Association (STGA) qualifications held by our members and please be wary of those who call themselves guides but cannot provide evidence of their qualifications.
Q. Are your members insured for public liability/professional indemnity?
A. As far as we are aware all of our members have paid their annual membership fee to the STGA and so have public liability and professional indemnity insurance via their membership. You can verify if your chosen guide is a current STGA member by checking that they are listed on the STGA website.