With almost 300,000 taxi drivers currently licensed on UK roads, becoming a taxi driver is an appealing career move for many. However, with a lot of information out there, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what you need to do to become a taxi driver. We look at the step by step process required to achieve Public and Private Hire licences, from the practical driving tests to the requirements expected of the drivers themselves.
How to get a Public Hire licence
Unlike private hire vehicles, traditional taxis – also known as public hire taxis or hackney carriages – can be hailed at a rank, in the street or be pre-booked. In order to gain your taxi drivers licence, you must follow the correct procedure.
Applying for your Public Hire licence
Before applying for your public hire licence, it’s important to ensure that you are eligible to work in the UK, and have held a full GB, NI or EU driving licence for at least 12 months. You must also be 21 years old or older.
The first steps to gaining your licence and becoming a taxi driver require you to fill out an application form. This form cannot be downloaded online, and must be obtained by contacting your local council. Upon completion of your application form, dependent on your council, you may then be required to:
• Undertake a medical examination
• Complete a ‘Knowledge Test’
• Undergo a DBS check
• Pass the DVSA taxi driving assessment
Fees will apply for these processes, so it is important to get in touch with your council to find out how much they cost, as well as what is specifically required of you in your local area. For more information on exactly what to expect from the DVSA taxi assessment, go to https://www.gov.uk/dvsa-taxi-driving-test
Knowledge tests will differ based on location, and will require you to answer vital information based on your local area to ensure you are well equipped to work within that area.
Applying for your Public Hire licence in London
If you want to apply for Public Hire licence in London – though much of the criteria is still the same, the process longer and more complex. You must apply for an application pack via the Transport for London (TfL) website to gain the right driving licence, of which there are two choices. The Green Badge allows you to work in all of London, whereas the Yellow Badge restricts you to only working in suburban areas.
An extensive breakdown of all the fees for the TfL taxi application can be found here, https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/taxis-and-private-hire/licensing/apply-for-a-taxi-driver-licence#on-this-page-3.
Once you have your licence, you are required to pass the extensive and world-famous Knowledge test. The test is comprised of a number of aspects, including a written exam, appearance interviews and a practical driving test. Due to the amount of study time required, most Knowledge students choose to attend a Knowledge school for teaching and support. The exam can take as long as 34 months to complete, and it is very common for drivers to learn necessary routes on a scooter via to taking the test itself.
More details on the Knowledge can be found here, https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/taxis-and-private-hire/licensing/learn-the-knowledge-of-london.
How to get a Private Hire Licence
Private hire vehicles – also referred to as minicabs – differ from taxicabs, and so require a separate licence. PHV’s are only suitable for pre-booking, and will always be controlled by a licensed operator.
Applying for your Private Hire licence
The Private Hire licence differs in what it validates you to drive. You must be 21 years old or older to apply for your PHV licence.
In order to obtain your licence you may need to:
• Undertake a medical examination
• Complete a knowledge test
• Undergo a ‘DBS’ check.
• Pass the DVSA taxi assessment
Councils differ on what they charge, so you will need to get in touch with your local council via their website or over the phone in order to confirm specific fees.
Please note that all Private hire licence application forms include a convictions section where all previous criminal convictions or cautions must be declared. Certain convictions may affect the success of an application.
Applying for your Private Hire licence inside London
When applying for a Private Hire licence in London you must follow the same process as above. The only difference is that you are required to undergo a topographical skills assessment. This will assess your skills to understand a map index, find locations on a map, and the ability to select the most appropriate route for your destination.
The fees for a Private Hire licence in London differ quite significantly to a taxi driver licence. For a breakdown of the specific fees and more information on the topographical skills assessment, visit https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/taxis-and-private-hire/licensing/private-hire-driver-licence. All Private Hire licence holders in London are required to wear their badge at all times.
Becoming a taxi driver
Becoming a taxi driver requires a lot of form filling and tests before you can make your first pick up. Deciding whether you want to become a public or private hire driver will make a difference in your initial application as well as day-to-day driving once you obtain your licence. Driving in London also brings different challenges and options, so it’s worth doing as much research as possible before deciding exactly where you want to apply for your licence.
Once you have a full Public or Private Hire licence, you will also need to gain a relevant vehicle licence before your car is made eligible for the roads. It must be inspected by TfL before it can pass if in London, or by your local council if outside of the capital.