Taxi driver regulations: How to get licenses and insurance

Startups takes a look at how to get a taxi licence or private hire licence

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Taxi licences

Costs of a taxi or private hire driver licence in London:

  • License application fee: £120 (£124 for private hire)
  • Grant of license fee: £180 (£186 for private hire)
  • Knowledge of London test (one off payment): £400
  • Knowledge of London written test (all London only): £200
  • DBS paper application: £58.85
  • Medical (paid to your GP): est. £80

In order to be eligible to drive a taxi or private hire vehicle in London you must:

  • Be aged 18 or over (though you cannot be licensed until you are 21)
  • Hold a full DVLA, Northern Ireland or driving licence for a state in the European Economic Area
  • Have the right to live and work in the UK
  • Undertake and enhanced DBS check (details below)
  • Undergo a medical examination to meet the DVLA Group 2 medical standards

If you want to drive a London black cab, you must also have learnt and passed the Knowledge. Introduced in 1865, this world-famous test requires you to learn 320 routes within the six-mile radius of Charing Cross, as well as all the roads and landmarks of the start and end points for every route.You can pass either the All London (green badge) test, allowing you to operate anywhere in the Greater London Authority, or the Suburban (yellow badge) – allowing you to operate in one of the nine sectors in the suburbs of the Greater London Authority area.

Breakdown of costs from
DBS online application £56.85
Post Office Check and Send £7.15

Taxi or private hire driver licence outside of London

You must apply to your local council for a licence allowing you to drive a taxi or private hire vehicle outside of London. In order to be eligible, you must:

  • Have the legal right to work in the UK
  • Have had a full GB, Northern Ireland, or EU driving licence for 12 months or more
  • Have had a medical examination
  • Take a knowledge test
  • Take a driving test

DBS check for taxi drivers

All taxi and PHV drivers are eligible for standard Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, and those who transport children or vulnerable adults eligible for enhanced DBS checks.These consult police records to check for spent and unspent criminal convictions, as well as cautions, reprimands, and final warnings.

Can I become a taxi driver if I have a criminal record? Yes, a crime against your name does not automatically prevent you from obtaining a taxi licence. Individual cases will be assessed on the severity of the crime committed.

Taxi vehicle licences (or private hire vehicle licences)

Taxi vehicle licence

Taxis must have a vehicle licence before they can be used for service. In order to apply for a licence the vehicle must:

  • Meet the Euro 6 standards of zero emissions capable (since 1 January 2018)
  • Meet the design standards set out in the TfL’s fitness document
  • Have a meter that fits the TfL’s specifications
  • Accept card and contactless payments and be capable of printing a receipt

Costs of a taxi or private hire vehicle licence in London:

  • License application fee (non-refundable): £66 (£84 for private hire)
  • Grant of license fee: £44 (£56 for private hire)

Licenses are valid for 12 months.

Taxi operator licenses (or private hire operator licenses)

Operating a fleet

If you plan to operate a fleet of taxis and rent them out to licensed taxi drivers you will need to apply to become a proprietor. You must be aged 21 or over.

In London, TfL will consider an applicant’s criminal record via a Disclosure and Barring service check, whether they have any offences under taxi legislation, any previous history as a taxi proprietor, and whether a taxi is up to scratch.

You, the proprietor, are responsible for maintaining your vehicles, keeping records of drivers and returning expired licence plates.

Private hire operator licence in London

You must have a Transport for London (TfL) operator’s licence to operate in London, which lasts up to five years. To be eligible, you must be aged 21 or over.

Taxi or private hire operator licence outside of London

If your taxi or private hire business is based outside of London you’ll need an operator licence from your local authority. You’ll also need to have a driver’s licence and vehicle licence from the same authority.

Taxi and private hire vehicle insurance

Whether it’s in city centres, the suburbs, or the countryside, driving also carries the risk of an accident that could cause damage to your car, you, or your passenger(s).As a result, insurance is an essential part in becoming an accepted and reputable private hire business. Cars, drivers and third parties (i.e. passengers) must be insured, with special private hire insurance available to minicab firms. It is also worth getting your operating centre (if it is not your house) and any equipment (radios, GPS systems etc.) insured too.

Cover usually extends to anything up to £5m of damage, although policy prices, like any type of insurance, vary according to the provider.

Most of the major insurance providers cover private hire cars, as well as the people that drive them, so shop around to get the best deal for your business.

Taxi car insurance, which is a special policy to cover cars used for commercial hire, is a legal requirement. It includes:

  • Public hire taxi insurance – this covers any taxi that picks customers up off the street
  • Private hire taxi insurance – this will cover any pre-booked vehicles including large multipurpose vehicles. You will not be covered to pick up passengers without a booking

You can cover multiple vehicles with a taxi fleet insurance policy. As a fleet operator you should look into getting employers liability insurance to protect yourself if any of your employees are injured whilst driving for you.You also might want to take out a public liability insurance policy, which covers you in the event that a passenger is injured or their property is damaged. This will probably be covered under a general taxi insurance policy but you should check.

You can find more advice in our guide to how to start a taxi or private hire company.

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