17th June 2022

How to become a taxi or private hire driver in the UK

Wondering how to become a taxi driver in the UK? Provided you are medically fit and legally able to work in the UK, starting your career as a driver in London is easier than you think.

First, it’s worth noting that there is a difference between being a London taxi driver and a private hire or minicab driver. Private hire vehicles must be pre-booked through a licensed operator and cannot be hailed down in the street. Taxis, on the other hand, can be pre-booked, hailed down, and can operate from taxi ranks. A meter and a fare table must be displayed in a taxi. Taxis are most commonly associated with London black cabs, while private hire and minicab drivers are most commonly associated with companies like Addison Lee.

As a private hire driver, you will need a PCO licence, for which you must be at least 21 years old, hold a valid driving licence that’s at least three years old, and have the legal right to live and work in the UK. You will also be asked to pass a few essential checks.

If you’re interested in working flexible hours, having more control of your income, and driving in one of the best cities in the world, here’s a quick guide to get started.

How to Become a Private Hire Driver: UK Requirements

If you’re looking to work as a private hire taxi driver, there are a few essential documents you’ll need:

  1. Identification: You will need to provide two documents as proof of identity, such as a national ID card or passport.
  2. Driving licence: To legally work as a taxi driver in London (or any part of the UK), you will need to have a valid and up-to-date driving licence. You must, of course, be of legal age to drive and follow the driving eyesight rules and requirements.
  3. PHV (Private Hire Vehicle) licence: A private hire vehicle is defined as “any vehicle that can carry up to 8 passengers and is available for hire with a driver”. All licensed private hire drivers must work for a licensed private hire operator.

To get a PHV licence, you will need to meet specific requirements:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have the right to live and work in the UK
  • Hold a valid driving licence that is at least three years old
  • Undergo a medical examination to confirm you are medically fit
  • Pass a topographical skills assessment at a Transport for London (TfL) driver assessment centre
  • Pass a speaking and listening assessment
  • Pass a SERU (Safety, Equality and Regulatory Understanding) assessment (to determine your reading and writing skills)
  • Be of good character; pass an enhanced criminal record check

What London Taxi Drivers Have to Learn

Any additional qualifications you might need to be a UK taxi driver will depend on the operator you drive for.

For example, London black cab drivers may be required to learn the Knowledge of London, simply called “The Knowledge”, first introduced as a requirement in 1865. Uber makes its drivers do a topographical test to test driver expertise in maps.

Becoming a Private Hire Driver in London

Apart from the minimum qualifications, several qualities will make you a successful minicab driver and make your day-to-day routine more enjoyable – both for yourself and your passengers:

  • Drive safely and respect the rules of the road
  • Develop your knowledge of the routes and districts you drive most often
  • Keep your vehicle clean and tidy
  • Provide excellent customer service by being polite and friendly
  • Keep a cool head in stressful situations (such as traffic jams)

Do you have questions about becoming a London private hire driver?

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