How to become a taxi driver in the UK

Want to drive a cab for a living, but not sure how to navigate the process? We'll guide you through the ins and outs of becoming a taxi driver.

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If you’re interested in joining the hundreds of thousands of taxi drivers in the UK, you’re in the right place.

At, we know all about the benefits that taxi driving can offer you, such as flexibility, customer service, and a life behind the wheel.

But whilst we’ve also guided freelancers and business owners through many challenges over the past 20 years, the current post-pandemic recovery period is one of the most unique challenges startups have ever had to navigate.

In the below guide, we’ve car-pooled together everything you need to know about becoming a taxi driver, including where the industry is now and how to get over the major obstacles. We’ll steer you through how to get started, as well as what the requirements are when working for yourself or working for a taxi firm.

So, whether you see yourself in one of London’s famous black cabs or working for a ride-sharing app like Uber, read on for all the information you need to arrive at your destination. can help your business succeed

At, we’re here to help small UK businesses to get started, grow and succeed. We have practical resources for helping new businesses get off the ground – you can use the tool below to get started today.

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Why should you become a self-employed taxi driver?

If you decide to become a taxi driver in London, you can drive the iconic black cabs that the capital is famous for. Not only that, but you’ll have passed The Knowledge, in which you have to memorise all of the streets and landmarks within a six mile radius of Charing Cross – there are thousands of them, so it’s no mean feat!

But the capital isn’t the only place that you can cash in on the need for taxis: with services operating across the UK, there are a variety of places where you can base up. Better still, you won’t need any particular qualifications, besides the standard driving and licensing requirements. 

As a self-employed taxi driver, you can set your own working hours. Generally, popular times include in the evenings or at weekends, making it ideal if you don’t want to work a standard 9-5 job – or even if you want to supplement a 9-5 job.

Other benefits include receiving tips in addition to fares, potentially building rapport with regular customers, and the camaraderie from meeting other taxi drivers.

What is the UK taxi industry like today?

The total number of licenced taxi and PHVs fell by 15.9% between 2020 and 2021. This brings the current total of taxi drivers to 343,800 licenced vehicles – a decrease of 5.7%.

This decrease in the numbers of licensed vehicles and diver licences has
largely been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, as the national and regional lockdowns first introduced in March 2020 saw a loss of footfall and few customers needing to travel.

However, as restrictions have lifted, the industry is seeing encouraging signs of growth. Travellers from both abroad and national, are returning, increasing demand for passenger services.

Plus, growing numbers of taxi service providers like Uber, FreeNow and Bolt are creating more opportunities for drivers – as well as a more competitive market.

That means if you’re looking to become a taxi driver in 2022, you’ll need to work hard on a strategy that helps you stand out from your rivals.

Passing the taxi driver tests

So how do you become a taxi driver? Here, we highlight the key tests you need to pass.

London taxi driver test: The Knowledge

The Knowledge involves learning the quickest routes within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross, and on average takes three to four years to learn.

 You can choose to operate as an All London taxi driver, with a green badge that allows you access across the Greater London Authority area. 

Alternatively, you could opt for a Suburban licence. This gives you a yellow badge, meaning that you can operate in one of nine suburban sectors.

There are several stages to completing The Knowledge. These are:

  1. Self-assessment – an optional test to monitor your knowledge of the first 80 routes (also known as ‘runs’) out of the full 320
  2. Written examination – a multiple choice test, with a pass mark of 60%
  3. Appearances – multiple one-to-one in-person oral examinations on routes
  4. Suburban examination – tests your aptitude of 25 extra routes
  5. Licence application and pre-licencing talk – the final stage is to attend a group talk, where you also receive your licence and badge

For more detailed information, visit the TfL page on learning the Knowledge of London.

The taxi driver practical test

Previously, The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) used to provide tests for taxi driving for local councils: however, this stopped on 1 January 2017. 

In London, TfL has created a temporary arrangement where licences are issued to those that pass the final exam, one the condition that they complete an assessment when a new solution is confirmed.

Depending on where you wish to operate, you may still need to complete a practical test: contact your local authority to find out if this is the case. For example, the taxi driver practical test in Northern Ireland examines your actual driving ability, as well as your understanding of road safety and transporting passengers, amongst other criteria. 

The taxi driver theory test

Theory testing varies depending on your location – your local council should be able to provide you with more information. 

In Northern Ireland, you must also complete the theory test before taking the practical test. The theory test involves answering multiple choice questions and passing a hazard perception exam, in which you watch video clips to measure how well you respond to road scene hazards.

Other parts of the UK may require theory testing as well. For example, Thurrock Council in England requires both hackney carriage and private hire drivers to pass a multiple choice theory test, examining the highway code, road signs, routes, and more.

Language test for taxi drivers

Since 2016, applications for a private hire driver licence in London must meet an English language requirement. One way to achieve this is by taking a test with a provider appointed by TfL.

Alternatively, you can provide documentary evidence of your English language ability, such as with a GCSE, NVQ, A Level, or degree certificate in any subject taught in English. Visit the TfL page on the English language requirement for private hire driver licences for more detailed guidance. 

If you are planning to operate outside of London, you may or may not have to meet an English language requirement – again, this depends on the local council. For example, Aylesbury Vale District Council requires taxi and private hire drivers to pass such a test. 

Taxi driver test costs

Here is a rough guide to costs for getting a taxi driver and private hire licence in London.

Taxi driver licence

Taxi driver license costs

Source: TfL

So, you can expect to pay in the region of £1,132.09 at a minimum to become a taxi driver in London

Private hire licence

Private hire license costs

Source: TfL

To become a private hire driver in London, you can expect to pay £627.50 or more, plus the GP fee for the medical.

How much do taxi driver tests cost outside of London? 

Outside of London, the costs can vary depending on the area in which you want to operate – contact your local council to find out more.

Here, we provide some examples of costs across the UK. 

LocationTaxi driver theory testTaxi driver practical test
Northern Ireland£34Weekdays - £60, evenings and weekends - £90

LocationKnowledge testLicence
Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council£70 (for hackney carriage, private hire and executive hire)Hackney carriage: £175 (one year), £215 (three years)
LocationLicence and badgeKnowledge testDBS application
City and County of Swansea£236£29 (per attempt)£44

Finance is an important foundation when you’re thinking about starting a new business – particularly when it comes to the taxi industry, where there are lots of upfront costs.

Whether you need to buy a new vehicle, or pass your practical taxi driving test, our bespoke online comparison tool can find you the best deals from business loan providers quickly and easily. Plus, it’s completely free.

How to get your taxi driver license

You’ll need to pass the necessary tests in order to receive your taxi driver licence. In most cases, you have to:

  • Hold a full UK or EU driving licence, for a minimum of 12 months (or three years if you want to work in London)
  • Meet the background and medical checks
  • Be aged 18 or above (or aged 21 and above in certain areas, including London)

There are differences between getting a taxi driver licence in London and outside of the capital, as well as differences between taxi and private hire vehicles. There are also operating licences to take into consideration. For more detailed information, read our article on taxi driver regulations

Essentially, you must apply to your local council for a licence to drive a taxi or a private hire vehicle (PHV) outside of London. This means that the costs and application process can vary between areas.

TfL manages licencing for taxis and PHVs in London. You can register online for either type of licence. It’s also possible to request an application pack. You’ll need to give some personal information about yourself to create the account, and provide a photo for the licence. 

The length of time it takes to become a licenced taxi driver varies depending on if you learn the All-London Knowledge or a Suburban sector.

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How to become an Uber taxi driver in the UK

Ride hailing apps have become increasingly popular in the UK. As the Department for Transport data shows, in 1 April 2023 there were 289,400 licensed taxis and PHVs in the UK, an increase of 11.0% since 2022.

In order to operate an Uber service, you need to get a PHV licence. While there are some general criteria to meet (such as the age and driving requirements), the amount you’ll pay and the length of time for obtaining it depend on where in the UK you’re based. Also, you’ll need to ensure that the local council has granted Uber permission to operate in its district. 

As well as Uber, you could consider Bolt or Kapten, if you’re a licenced private hire driver. Alternatively, if you’re a licenced taxi driver, Gett may be the organisation for you.

Read our guide on how to become an Uber driver guide for more detailed information.

The skills a taxi driver needs

As well as the practical aspects, like passing tests and having the correct licence, there are other skills needed to be a taxi driver. These include:

  • Communication – you’ll need to be able to talk with, and listen to, passengers in a personable way
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure – whether it’s dealing with challenging customers or navigating tricky traffic, a cool and collected demeanour is essential
  • Attention to detail – from knowing the quickest way to get somewhere to ensuring customers’ safety, you’ll need to be meticulous when running a taxi service

Becoming a working taxi driver: Next steps

Once you’ve got your licence, it’s time to start working. Here are the options available to you: 

Work for an established company

When you’re just beginning your taxi driving career, it can be wise to join an existing firm. Technicalities like tax and insurance will be taken care of for you, allowing you to focus on growing your confidence and developing your skills as a taxi driver.

However, you may have less control over the routes and times you work, and may have to drive a certain type of car.

Start your own firm

While you’ll have greater freedom running your own taxi firm, you should bear in mind that you’ll have to build a customer base and find a niche to help you beat the competition. For more in-depth insight, check out our guide on how to start a taxi or private hire firm

In addition, you can use our pages on card payment systems for taxi drivers and taxi insurance to help you with the practicalities of setting up your own business. 

Want to get started now?

Becoming a taxi driver offers you the freedom to work when and where you want to. Whether you decide to work for a company or start your own business, now’s the time to accelerate your taxi driving ambitions!

The first step to opening any business is sourcing finance, so you can pay for things like licensing, tests, and vehicles. Our free online comparison tool can help you to compare the best business loan providers across the UK, and get refreshingly honest quotes for early-stage finance.

Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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