There are no actual credentials, but you must have an Operator’s License. Contact your local council to apply at the licensing unit. Requirements differ from one area to the next, but general qualifications include having had your full driver’s license for at least one year (three years if you wish to drive in London), excellent geographical knowledge of your area, passing a medical exam, being over 18 (21 in Northern Ireland), and of course, passing a criminal background check.
In London, preparing and studying for the geographical test, called “The Knowledge” can take up to three years.
Some licensing agencies use the Hackney Carriage Private Hire Test Assessment, which has been developed by the DSA (Driving Standards Agency), as a tool to test potential drivers. For more information about applying to be a private hire driver, contact the National Private Hire Association.
Starting as a private hire driver may be a good way to go, as there are more licenses available. Black taxi licenses are limited. Again, contact your local licensing unit for more information.
What exactly is involved in being a taxi driver?
While actually driving the taxi to the passenger’s destination by the quickest route is the main function, there are several other aspects to consider. If you are driving a black taxi, you will be picking up pre-booked passengers, picking up those who hail you from the street, or waiting in a taxi rank such as those at a train station.
You will help passengers load and unload luggage and shopping bags, assist passengers to embark and disembark if requested, accept fares, communicate over the radio with the dispatcher, and keep your vehicle clean and in good repair. If you are self-employed, you may also need to keep records and accounts.
Private hire vehicles, also called mini-cabs, do much the same tasks, except that they only pick up pre-booked fares. You cannot pick up passengers from the street. You would often be booked to take longer runs to airports or other towns.
Is further training available?
Further training may be available from your local licensing authority. Radio procedures, local geography, disability consideration, fundamental mechanics, passenger care, law and fundamental mechanics are some of the topics which may be offered.
NVQs are also available in Road Passenger Transport – Level 2, and Road Passenger Vehicle Driving – Level 2.
If being a taxi driver isnt for you what about being a delivery van driver?