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How To Become a Taxi Driver UK

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If you enjoy being behind the wheel of your car, interacting with a wide variety of different people and striking up interesting conversations then taxi driving could be a great career choice for you. With quality cabbies earning around £30,000 per year, it can be a great career choice for anyone who doesn’t mind spending hours a day on the road.

You won’t need any advanced education or academics to start your taxi driving career, so if you prefer getting on with things versus being stuck in a classroom it could be an ideal environment for you. That being said, you will need to acquire your taxi driver/private hire licence, which could require you to pass a topographical test.

How to become a Taxi Driver UK

There are two main routes you can take on your road to becoming a taxi driver.

  • College courses
  • Work experience/direct applications

Both have their benefits and disadvantages but can lead to a highly successful taxi driving career. We’ve put together a rundown of both to allow you to evaluate them more easily:

What skills do you need to be a Taxi Driver?

While it’s fairly obvious that you’ll need to be a good driver to captain a taxi, the parts of the job many forget to consider are the excellent customer service and listening skills you’ll require to make sure your passengers have an excellent journey—there’s far more to taxi driving than just getting your customers from A to B. With that in mind, somebody who met this profile might make an excellent cabbie.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Strong communicator
  • Good driver and knowledge of road/traffic laws
  • A natural sense of direction
  • Time management skills
  • Care for customer safety
  • Comfortable handling money/change
  • Basic IT skills

If that sounds like you, let’s go over your two options.

1. College Course

If you’re not quite ready to dive into life as a taxi driver yet, a college course can help prepare you properly. A course will provide you with a breadth of knowledge about driving, customer service and etiquette, as well as offering a nice booster for your CV in the event you decide taxi driving isn’t for you.

What qualifications/education do you need to get into a Taxi Driving course?

Requirements and courses are different at every college—so a programme you see at one college may not be available at another. That being said, most courses have similar entry requirements, so if you meet these criteria you should be in a good spot:

  • Level 1: 0-2 GCSEs (pass or above)
  • Level 2: 2+ GCSEs (D or above)
  • Level 3: 4-5 GCSEs (C or above)

Courses can serve many purposes, not only helping to make you a better taxi driver (whenever you do choose to start your career) but also providing opportunities to ask questions you might not have the opportunity to ask ‘on the job’. Courses are, naturally, probably less suited to someone who enjoys the challenge of diving straight into something, or who struggled academically in the past.

How to find Taxi Driver courses near me?

The first stop on your search should absolutely be the National Careers Service portal. Most of the UK’s colleges advertise their courses here, so it should offer an excellent starting point as you look for the right course. Some colleges (or especially popular courses) may only advertise locally, too, so keep an eye on their websites and in local papers.

The UK’s excellent online course portal is also a great resource for anybody looking to improve their skills before their course begins, so if you’re looking for a useful tool to help build up your future employability then take a look.

2. Work Experience/Direct Applications

There is no better way to learn how to do something than to jump straight in and give it a go. Beginning your career as a taxi driver (once you have the appropriate licences, covered more below) can be daunting at first, but if you feel you’re ready to take the leap then there is nothing to stop you from applying to local taxi companies directly.

While there is no guarantee that applying directly (especially with no prior experience) will yield any results, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. Make sure your CV is well-presented, up-to-date and clean of any spelling or grammar errors. If you are able to secure an interview, make sure you’ve prepared your reasons for applying and why that company should hire you, as well as turning up promptly and smartly dressed.

Keep in mind that before you start working, you will need to have your taxi driver/private hire (PHV) licence sorted. Some city council's will require you have a job offer from a licenced operator before they'll accept your PHV application, so it's possible businesses may be aware that you won't have a full licence beforehand if this is the case in your local area.

Unlike courses, there isn’t one source you can use to find all of the UK’s taxi driver jobs. Job sites like Indeed and Totaljobs will serve as a useful resource, and consider nationwide apps like Uber as well.

What does a Taxi Driver do in the UK?

Being a taxi driver is a little more complicated than just getting your customers from A to B. You’ll need to be social, friendly, and good at basic maths to make sure their change is calculated correctly. Every day will be different, and some days you may even have to deal with customers who aren’t having the best day—being able to remain calm and even helping to relax these people is important, as they’re still paying customers.

Each day will be unique, but they’ll all share similarities. Here’s how you can expect to spend most of your time on the road:

  • Accepting jobs over the radio/phone or via a computer/mobile app
  • Helping passengers load/unload their bags and possessions
  • Taking payments for rides and return the correct change
  • Maintaining your vehicle and keep the interior clean and presentable
  • Keeping records of your journeys

Do I need insurance as a Taxi Driver?

Yes, you will require a taxi insurance policy in order to drive as a taxi driver. This is designed to protect you, your vehicle and other road users from the risks associated with driving for professional purposes (long hours on the road, unfamiliar routes, etc.)

To make sure you’re safe at all times, you’ll want, at minimum, a form of hire & reward (a legal requirement) and public liability insurance (not a legal requirement, but highly recommended by most good taxi drivers). Our guides to each are a great resource if you have any questions.

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Becoming a Taxi Driver by city

How to become a Taxi Driver in London

To become a London taxi driver you’ll need to apply for a taxi or private hire licence with Transport for London (TfL). Be prepared to pass a topographical test and pass a criminal background check, and you’ll need to be over 21 years with at least 3 years of holding a valid drivers licence. It’s a little bit more complicated than the rest of the UK (where age limits are less strict) so if you’ve just finished school don’t be surprised if you have to wait a few years.

How to become a Taxi Driver in Birmingham UK

In order to obtain your Private Hire or Taxi licence from the Birmingham City Council, you must:

  1. Prove your Right to Work in the UK
  2. Prove you have held your driver’s licence for at least two years
  3. Prove your address/residence
  4. Pass a local knowledge test
  5. Complete a DBS check and/or prove good character through references
  6. Pass a basic medical exam
  7. Pass a taxi-specific driving test
  8. Attend a disability awareness course
  9. (If applying for Private Hire) provide evidence of a job offer from a licenced operator

Compared to London, the requirements are slightly less stringent—there isn’t a specific age requirement, for example, provided you’ve held a full drivers licence for at least 2 years.

To submit your application, go to the taxi licencing website for the Birmingham City Council.

How to become a Taxi Driver in Liverpool

Becoming a taxi driver in Liverpool has fewer steps than in other major UK cities, but that doesn’t mean it’s any ‘easier’. You’ll need to pass a number of tests before your licence is issued, so be prepared to prepare appropriately. Here’s everything you’ll need to do:

  1. Produce a Certificate of Good Conduc and/or pass DVLA/DBS checks
  2. Pass the Liverpool Standard test (Part 1).
  3. Pass a street knowledge test and have your ID/Right to Work checked
  4. Pass a medical exam and receive a medical certificate
  5. Apply for your licence.

If you think you’re ready, check out the Liverpool City Council’s full guide to completing your application.

How to apply for a taxi licence in Manchester

The process is fairly simple. You’ll be required to pass a number of tests (as with most cities in the UK) but will also have to attend an interview to have all of your documents (Right to Work, proof of address, etc.) reviewed. If you think you have everything prepared, head to the Manchester City Council’s driver application and start the process.

FAQ

Topography refers to looking at a map and being able to work out directions, routes (and alternatives) and more. Your topographical test is simply an assessment of how well you read and understand maps.

The test isn’t designed to catch you out, and most drivers don’t find it overly difficult. Once you’ve signed up for a local assessment (in London via TFL, for example) you’ll receive a few things to help you prepare, such as an introductory guide and some sample questions.

To get a taxi licence, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:

  • Right to work in the UK
  • Full GB/NI/EU driving licence for at least 12 months

You may also be required to:

  • Pass a medical exam
  • Take a topographical/knowledge test
  • Pass an advanced driving test.

If you’re in London, you may also need to meet the following additional requirements:

  • Over 21 years of age
  • At least 3 years holding a drivers licence
  • Pass a criminal background check

If you meet the criteria or would like to apply, check out the government’s next steps for receiving your taxi licence.

Yes. You will require a private hire licence in order to drive for Uber. In order to get a PHV licence, you’ll need your passport, driving licence, national insurance number and proof of address.

Uber has a detailed guide to getting signed up to their Ignition programme here.

This naturally depends on the reason your criminal record exists, but you may find it hard to pass the standard background checks for a private hire licence if you do have a criminal record in place.

There were roughly 299,000 licenced taxi and private hire vehicles (+2.3% since 2019) in the UK in 2020, with around 365,000 total driver licences (+0.6% since 2019). This is according to data taken from the UK Department for Transport.

In total, you’re probably looking between £1,000-£2,500 annually for your taxi driver insurance (depending on your risk profile, created based on your age, vehicle, etc.) and around £200-£300 for the full licencing process, including submission fees, DBS checks and relevant examination fees.

Our guide to the cost of taxi insurance goes into much more detail, if you'd like to know more.

Taxi drivers can take home anywhere between £9-£25 per hour, depending on how busy there are. This would give them weekly earnings of between £315-£875 in a 35-hour working week. You’re unlikely to spend the whole week earning at either the minimum or the maximum, so expect to be somewhere between that, and keep in mind you might earn more in the busy regions around city centres or airports, for example.

As with any job, taxi driving has its ups and downs. On good days, you’ll be carrying talkative passengers who will tell you about their lives and ask you about yours. On bad days, customers might be disinterested or even rude. As with any career, the best thing you can do is speak to a driver directly—the next time you’re in a taxi or Uber, don’t be afraid to ask your driver what they think about the work.

Online forums can be a good resource too, especially if you want to see the issues affecting real taxi drivers. Try places like Taxi Driver Online or Uber People.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.