How to become a Private Hire Taxi Driver in the UK
Enjoy being behind the wheel, meeting and conversing with new people and want a life that offers autonomy and flexibility? Then becoming a private hire taxi driver may just be the right opportunity for you. If you want to drive a cab in the UK and make money doing it, but you’re unsure on how to get started, our guide will help you understand everything you need to know to excel as a private hire driver, along with getting you from point A to point B as fast as possible.
Why should you become a private hire taxi driver?
Passing the examinations
If you want to become a private hire driver, you will need to pass the following tests:
Private hire driver knowledge test
To demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the local area and geography of the town/city you want to work in, you will need to pass the relevant test to demonstrate your ability.
This will be referred to as a topographic skills assessment if you want to obtain a private hire vehicle license in London. As an example, you may be asked to plot a route from one location to another. If you want to drive a taxi in London, you will need to pass ‘The Knowledge’.
The Knowledge: For London cab drivers
To pass ‘The Knowledge’, you must learn the quickest routes within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. This is a lengthy process and will take most private hire cab drivers around three to four years to complete.
There are two badges you can pursue. A green badge allows you access across the Greater London Authority area and a yellow badge that gives you a suburban license, allowing you to operate in one of the nine suburban districts.
The practical test for private hire drivers
In the past, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) offered taxi driving tests for local authorities. Since January 1st, 2017 this is no longer the case.
A temporary arrangement however has been created in London by TfL, whereby licenses are given to those that have passed the final examination. There is a condition in place that they must complete an assessment once a new solution has been found.
You may still need to pass a practical test depending on where you decide to work as a private hire driver. To get the most up to date information on this matter, it is advisable that you contact your local authority.
The theory test
Your local authority will be able to give you further information on theory tests, as these depend on where you are situated in the UK.
Language test for private hire drivers
If you want to obtain a private hire driver license in London, you must now meet the English language test requirement. This has been in place since 2016.
As an alternative, you do have the option to provide documented evidence of your English language ability. For example, you may have GCSEs, A-levels, or even a degree that has been taught in English. For further information, check out TfL’s English language requirement for private hire driver licenses.
Anyone who will be operating outside of London should contact their local authority for guidance on the English language requirements, as they may or may not be needed.
What skills do private hire drivers need?
How to get your private hire license
In order to obtain a private hire license, you must pass the relevant examinations listed above. In addition to this you must also meet the following criteria:
- Hold a full UK or EU driving licence for a minimum of 12 months (this will be 36 months if you wish to work in London)
- Meet the DBS background checks and get medical clearance
- Be aged 18 or above (or aged 21 and above in certain areas such as London)
It’s important to note that the requirements for getting a private hire license within the capital and outside London are slightly different. There are also other differences between private hire and taxi vehicles too. You must also factor in operating licenses as well.
Fundamentally, you will have to apply to your local authority to get a license to drive a private hire vehicle (PHV) or taxi outside of the UK’s capital. The application process and associated costs will vary between different locales.
TfL manages the licensing application process for both PHVs and taxis within London. It’s relatively easy to register online for either license type. If you would prefer to complete this by hand, you can also submit a request for an application pack to be sent to you in the post. However, it’s far easier to manage this online. To create an account, you will need to enter in some personal information about yourself and provide a valid photo for the license.
As for how long it takes to become a licensed private hire driver, this will in the fullness of time depend on whether you learn the All London Knowledge or a Suburban sector.