In Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the larger cities, black hackney taxis—similar to those in London—with their "taxi" sign illuminated can be hailed on the street, or booked by phone (expect to pay an extra 80-pence charge for this service in Edinburgh). If you call a private-hire taxi, expect a regular-looking car to pick you up. The only distinctions are that they have a taxi license and a meter stuck on the dashboard, along with an ID card for the driver. Private-hire taxis are cheaper than black hackney taxis and will pick you up only from a specific location, not off the street.
Scottish taxis are reliable, safe, and metered. In Edinburgh, meters begin at £2.10 weekdays and increase in 25-pence increments. Beyond the larger cities, most communities of any size have a taxi service; your hotel will be able to supply telephone numbers.