How to Become a Taxi Driver
Taxi drivers carry out one of the most valuable - and perhaps underappreciated - public service occupations around. Whether it's to and from the shops, to work or school, or as that essential post night out beacon to home, it's likely that most people will have taken a ride in a taxi at some point in their life.
If you've taken a trip in a taxi before, you may also have found yourself wondering what life behind the wheel of a taxi might be like. The individual responsibility, apparent freedom, and working hours of being a taxi driver might seem appealing to many; perhaps the reason for the recent rise of "self-employed" rideshare services.
If you've ever found yourself daydreaming about a life on the road, we've put together a step by step guide telling you everything you need to know about becoming a taxi driver. From qualifications, tests, and even personality requirements, we hope we give you a good insight to what it takes to make a living behind the wheel.
Who do you want to work for?
So, you've decided to investigate becoming a taxi driver. Firstly, we'll need to ask you a few questions about exactly what kind of driver you're looking to be. The fact of the matter is, taxi-driver is a bit of a blanket term, covering a few different types of taxis with separate requirements and working expectations.
The first and most well-known taxi you could potentially drive is a hackney carriage, commonly known as "black cabs" in the London region. When driving this type of taxi, you could pick up passengers when flagged down, from a specified taxi rank, or from a pre-booked destination. Hackney carriages are usually licensed by a local public authority, the Public Carriage Office, or the Department of the Environment, and licences for these types of taxis are less readily available than other types
The other most common type of taxi is a private hire vehicle, or "minicab'. Unlike hackney carriages, private hire cars generally only pick up passengers who have pre-booked from a specified location, and can't be flagged down or ordered from a roadside rank. When operating on behalf of a private hire company, you'll either be able to use your own vehicle or hire one from the company itself. Rather than being on the books, you may also be registered as self-employed, meaning you could be able to choose when and how frequently to operate. However, you may also have to work to a rough shift pattern.
Get a license
Once you've decided which type of firm you'd like to work for, you'll need to work on getting licensed. Presumably, you'll already have a regular driving license - if not, it might be a good idea to work on getting one.
Obtaining a taxi license is usually a fairly simple process, conducted through your local authority. Although the exact conditions differ from council to council, there are some general requirements:
Be a registered UK citizen, or have proof of a legal right to work in the UK.
Pass a criminal records check.
Have a clean driving license.
Hold a driving license for at least 12 months, although longer is preferred. In London, the minimum is 3 years.
Be over 21. However, many firms may not hire drivers under 25, due to the insurance premiums associated with this.
Complete some form of driving assessment.
Pass a geographical test of the area you'll be driving in.
Pass a medical. If you have poor eyesight, severe heart problems, epilepsy or diabetes, you may be refused a license.
Any tests you take may be carried out by different authorities. Driving assessments will most likely be carried out by your local council, or the DVSA. The geographical test will also be carried out by a local authority, and in London this test - colloquially known as "The Knowledge" - will be carried out by the Ministry of Transport. You'll be expected to build up a solid knowledge of the area you'll be driving in, although in an era of satellite navigation knowing every highway, road, by-way and ginnel in your area is perhaps becoming a less strenuous requirement.
A license is usually issued for a period of 12 months, and after this, it will need to be renewed. This is a much easier process than initially obtaining a taxi license, and generally involves completing an updated criminal records check and medical form, and sending this off with an updated passport size photo.
Choose your car
So you've decided who you'd like to work for, passed all the requirements, and obtained your private hire license. But it feels like you're missing something'
Perhaps the most important decision you'll need to make when choosing to become a taxi driver, is which car you'll license to drive. You'll be depending on your car day in day out, so you need to make sure that you choose something sturdy, reliable, and affordable to run.
If you're working for a firm that uses hackney carriages, you'll likely be supplied with a vehicle that you'll pay a small amount to use. However, for private hire-companies, you'll be presented with two options. You can choose either to hire a vehicle from the private hire operators to license, or drive your own vehicle. If choosing to drive your own vehicle, some firms may specify that it meets certain requirements. It may need to be a certain colour, size or age, have a certain engine size, and have undertaken an MOT test at least twice a year if over one year old.
Once you've decided on the right vehicle for you, whether it's a hatchback, estate, or MPV, you should be set to go. If you're unsure of what vehicle is right for you, taking a look at the options we've got on show at The Taxi Centre might be a good starting point.
Remember that this guide is simply rough advice, and that rules and regulations for your local area may differ slightly to those stated here. Most importantly, if you're looking for a social job that offers the opportunity to meet new people every day, a flexible working pattern that suits you, and an excuse to talk about the weather as often as you like, becoming a taxi driver might be the career calling you've been waiting for.