We’ve all had to make use of a taxi at some point, whether to take us home from the pub, from the supermarket, or even to the hospital in times of need.
And of course, we’re familiar with the black Hackney cabs driven by cabbies in London, who hone their skills over many years to be able to get you from one side of the city to the other as quickly as possible (and maybe even throw in some local knowledge while they’re at it).
But how does one become a taxi driver? Maybe you’re thinking of a career change and like the idea of using your car as a private hire vehicle, or quite fancy driving one of those iconic Hackney cabs?
UPDATE: As per Gov.uk's announcement, you no longer need to apply through your local council and pass a DVSA taxi assessment to be eligible to drive a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV). You may visit this website to see how you can apply for a driver's licence for taxis and PHVs.
Councils will differ in their criteria, but the universal requirements for obtaining a taxi licence are that you’ll need the following:
- Be a UK citizen
- You must be over 18 years of age
- A full and valid driving licence that you’ve held for at least 12 months
- A medical certificate confirming that you are in good health (Group II Medical form)
- You must have passed a criminal records background check (DBS check)
- Pass a driving skills assessment test (see below)
- In some cases; you’ll have to pass a geographical driving test, especially in the area you wish to operate
Once your application has been accepted, you’ll need to pass a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) test to qualify for a taxi licence.
What Does The Assessment Involve?
Much like a normal driving test for your car, a taxi assessment will first test your eyesight, and you’ll be required to read a licence plate from a distance of 20 metres, and if you require glasses, you must wear them during the test.
You will then move onto a practical assessment, which will involve certain manoeuvres, including:
- Identifying traffic and road signs and answering questions from the Highway Code
- 10 minutes of solo driving without being given instructions by the examiner
- Performing a manoeuvre to turn your vehicle to face in the opposite direction
- Stop at the side of the road as if picking up a passenger
- What to do if a passenger leaves property in your vehicle after being dropped off
- Perform an emergency stop
Upon passing the assessment, you’ll then receive a pass certificate (TPH10 form) as well as a copy of your assessment and some notes from your examiner, both of which you’ll need for the next step in your application.
What’s The Next Step?
Depending on which council you wish to drive for, each will have its own set of criteria for taxi drivers, and many will require you to pass a ‘knowledge test’, which essentially tests your knowledge of the local area.
Once you’ve passed all the relevant tests required, your council will then issue (for a fee) a taxi licence; these are issued on a year-long basis, you can then begin the process of deciding what sort of environment you want to work in.
Sole Trader Or Fleet Driver?
When you first start out as a driver, it can be worth finding a local taxi company to start work with to gain some experience. Being part of a fleet means you get orders distributed to you as they are rung into the main office.
Ridesharing allows you to operate as a solo driver, through use of an app such as Uber, so you can take fares on the go and dictate your own workload. However, you’ll need to arrange for a special type of taxi insurance on your own vehicle on top of your car insurance policy.
Whether you choose to be your own boss or work as part of a taxi company, ensuring you’re qualified for the job is essential to keep you, your passengers and your employer safe.