Qualifying as a Taxi Driver in the UK – It’s easier than you think!

31 March 2020
By Bryan Smyth

File photo of electric LEVC black taxis travel in London. Photo: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

If you are considering becoming a taxi driver, sometimes referred to as a cab driver or private hire driver, read the following guide which gives you a quick overview of the basics. You’ll also need one or more insurance policies, find out everything you need to know about what level of cover is required at Utility Saving Expert.

Simply put, taxi drivers will pick up passengers and charge them a fee to take them to their destination. They will often have to know and find the quickest route.

You can enter into this job through either applying directly to your local authority or taking a college course. By taking a college course, you can expect the following:

  • A Level 2 Certificate in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving – Taxi and Private Hire
  • A Level 2 Certificate in Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver

The typical entry requirements for the above college courses will generally be 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course.

File photo of electric LEVC black taxis travel in London. Photo: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

If you’ve already got a taxi driver’s license, you can also apply directly to become a taxi driver. Normally, this is the most common route of entry into the job. To achieve this, you will need to register with the local authority where you will work and achieve the minimum licensing requirements of the taxi company you’ll be employed by. Whether you are working for another company or as self-employed, you will need your own vehicle in most cases.

You will need to contact your local council’s licensing unit and apply for a taxi driver’s license to work within that area. If you wish to work in London, you will need to contact Transport for London (TfL) and complete the Knowledge test.

Here is a list of the knowledge and skills you’ll need as a cab driver:

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Good verbal communication skills
  • Knowledge of public and road safety
  • The ability to work well with a team
  • Listening skills
  • Be able to work under pressure and accept constructive criticism
  • Being patient and remaining calm if things get stressful
  • Be able to complete simple tasks on a mobile device or computer

Here’s a list of requirements you’ll need to meet:

  • Complete and pass a driving skills assessment
  • Have a full UK or EU driving license – this must be held for a minimum of 12 months, or 36 months if you plan on working in London
  • Pass a character reference and DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check
  • Pass a medical examination
  • Be aged 18+, or 21+ in some locations such as London
  • Pass ‘The Knowledge’ test if working in London – this can take 3 to 4 years
  • Pass the minimum English language requirement if working in London
  • If you’re working as a private hire driver, you will need hire or reward insurance and we also recommend that you consider public liability insurance.

In a typical day in the life of a taxi driver, you’ll normally undertake the following tasks:

  • Take job details through your mobile phone, in-car computer or over a radio
  • Take payments via cash or a contactless method through card or smartphone
  • Help and assist passengers with loading and unloading their luggage
  • Where required, assist passengers with getting into and out of the vehicle
  • Ensure any administration records and accounts are regularly updated
  • Make sure your vehicle is clean and tidy
  • Ensure any regular vehicle maintenance and servicing is carried out

You will spend the majority of your time in your vehicle, this can be physically and emotionally demanding. It’s a good idea to ensure ahead of time that you are comfortable before becoming a taxi driver.

What career path and progression can you expect?

If you’re employed by a larger taxi company, you may be given the opportunity to work as a manager in the control room. You could also progress into taxi licensing with your local authority. This could be for health, education or other local government services.

If you’re a self-employed taxi driver, you could expand your business by operating your own private hire company which employs other drivers under you. This could increase your annual income significantly if planned correctly.

Like most jobs, being a taxi driver can be challenging, but it does present its own advantages such as being your own boss and working your own schedule. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to increase your income if you choose to work extra hours.


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