If you want to become a taxi driver, you’ll have to sit a taxi driving assessment. Until 2017, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) provided the test, before passing the responsibility onto local councils who now decide what kind of assessments taxi drivers must take.

So, the advice is to contact your local council to find out what you need to do to become a taxi driver in your area. By and large, however, the tests are similar no matter where you’re sitting it - London aside, perhaps -  which makes helps when trying to prepare for an assessment.

In the article, we’ll provide some practical advice on how to prepare for a taxi driver test so that you can get your first licence and start carrying passengers in your local authority.

But first we’ll look at your best route to becoming a taxi driver…


How to become a taxi driver

There are a couple of different routes you can take to become a taxi driver, according to the Government’s National Careers Service.

You could do a college course, which could give you an advantage when looking for work (against drivers who don’t have the qualifications. Courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Road Passenger Vehicle Driving - Taxi and Private Hire
  • Level 2 Certificate in Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver

However, there are usually entry requirements that you must meet to be able to enrol on the course.

You'll usually need two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course. But, even if you don’t have those qualifications, it’s worthwhile applying for a course in case they are able to make allowances.

Alternatively, you can apply directly to a taxi company. This is the most common route into the industry.

But you’ll need to ensure you've got a taxi driver's licence before applying, which means sitting your local council’s prescriptive test.

Two taxis passing a large lit up building in London

 Obtaining your licence outside London

If you’re looking to obtain a licence outside of London, you must meet a number of conditions. To apply you must:

  • be able to work legally in the UK
  • have held a full GB or Northern Ireland driving licence - or a full EU driving licence - for at least a year
  • You must also be a ‘fit and proper person’, which means your background and character will be checked. Your council may carry out an enhanced criminal records check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

 You may also need:

  • a medical examination
  • a ‘knowledge’ test
  • to take a driving test

Some councils may even require you to complete a training programme to improve your skills in areas such as customer service, health and safety, road safety, disability assistance and working with children.

Each local authority has their own licensing requirements.

Contact your local council to find out what you’ll need to do to become a taxi driver – remember to ask for the price of the licensing fee and knowledge assessment.

A rank of private taxis

Obtaining your licence inside London

If you want to operate a taxi inside London, you need to apply to Transport for London (TfL) to drive a taxi or private hire vehicle (PHV).

To apply for a licence in London, you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You must be at least 18 at the time of applying (although you cannot be licensed until you are 21). There is no upper age limit, as long as you meet the other licensing requirements
  • You must hold a full DVLA, Northern Ireland, or other EEA state driving licence
  • You must have the right to live and work in the UK
  • You must meet the TfL’s character and medical requirements.

Once your application has been approved, you must learn and pass the world-famous Knowledge test.

Introduced in 1865, the Knowledge is regarded by many as the world’s toughest taxi test, due in large part to the capital’s complicated road network.

TfL suggests it takes three to four years to master the Knowledge, as it requires you to accumulate an encyclopaedic knowledge of the streets and places of interest in London.

The time it takes to become a licensed driver depends on whether you choose to learn the All-London Knowledge or a Suburban sector.

The TfL will send you a Knowledge of London introductory pack once your application for a licence has been approved, detailing the different stages of the Knowledge and the best way to approach your studies.

A red telephone box on a street corner in London with a taxi and a bus in the background

Preparing for your test

If you’re sitting a test in one of the local authorities outside London, the best way to prepare for it is to find out exactly what will be included in the assessment, what the required pass mark is for each module and how long you have to complete the exam.

The best way of accumulating the knowledge required to pass the test is to put the miles in – get out and explore the area where you’re sitting the exam.

It’s not only road names that you will need to become familiar with but also schools, night clubs, restaurants etc.

As well as a knowledge test, you might be required to take a practical assessment. This will usually involve navigating to locations within the local area by the most direct and appropriate route.

If you’re sitting the Knowledge in London, you’ll be invited to attend a talk with other successful candidates, where you will receive advice from a Knowledge of London examiner about the different stages of the test and the best way to approach your studies.

There’s no better way to prepare for the world’s toughest taxi test, so make sure you definitely attend.

A hackney carriage wrapped in a union flag driving through london

Get taxi insurance that suits you

To drive a taxi, you’ll need to take out specialist taxi insurance to meet your legal obligations as a road user as ordinary car insurance won’t be valid.

Here at Taxi Insurer, we can help you find a taxi insurance policy that suits your needs and we can work out a payment plan to make your payments manageable alongside all the other business expenses.

 Benefits of arranging taxi insurance through Taxi Insurer can include*:

  • Unique rates for public and private hire vehicles
  • Interest-free payment plans
  • Low deposits
  • Public Liability cover
  • Employer’s Liability cover

 *All features and benefits are subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria

With Comprehensive, Third Party Fire & Theft, and Third party only cover available, get a quick quote for taxi insurance today.

Call our friendly team with your registration number and driving licence and find the cover that’s right for you.

Get a quote today.