Are you looking to get behind the wheel for a living but not quite sure how to navigate it? Then we have the solution for you. This guide is going to give you everything you need to become a taxi driver in the UK. We will cover the following topics:

  • Characteristics of a good taxi driver
  • Passing the tests
  • How to get your taxi driving license
  • Career path

The characteristics of a good taxi driver

Before answering the question ‘what do I need to become a taxi driver?’, let’s look at some of the characteristics that will make you a good taxi driver. If you’re looking for a change of pace and want to work for yourself, then driving a taxi could be the right choice for you. 

  • Working flexible hours: Do you like setting your own schedule, or maybe you’d like to work to supplement your other 9-5 job? If you like to have the freedom to decide when and where you want to work, this might be the job for you.  
  • Willingness to learn: There are less qualifications needed to become a qualified taxi driver, now that e-hailing services have become the norm. You don’t need a degree or to have any background in education. The only thing you need is a standard driving license and qualifications we’ll mention below, which are relatively easy to acquire and don’t cost much. 
  • Local knowledge: If you decide to become a taxi driver in London, you will have to pass The Knowledge exam. This test was introduced in 1865 and requires you to memorise all of the streets and landmarks within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross –– there’s quite a few of them, so it will put your knowledge of London’s streets to the test. 
  • Networking: If you enjoy meeting new people and making different connections from all over the world, then driving a taxi is definitely for you. You will also experience a sense of camaraderie with fellow taxi drivers.

However, if London isn’t for you, there’s plenty of other cities to choose from in the UK. In addition, most locations outside of London don’t require as intense an exam compared to The Knowledge exam. 

The tests you need to pass

There are several tests that you will need to pass to become a taxi driver in the UK, here we take a look at some of the most crucial ones.

  1. The taxi driver knowledge test

To become a black cab driver, you’ll need to take a test that shows how well you understand and know the local area and geography. In London, this is known as the topographic skills assessment. In which you’re asked to plan a route from A to B.

  1. The practical test

Depending on the location you want to operate in, you may need to complete a practical exam. The best thing to do is to contact your local authority to see if that’s the case. Some of the items examined in your practical test include  your driving skills, ability to transport passengers, and general road safety. 

  1. Theory test 

Theory testing requirements vary across the UK. You can learn more about it by contacting your local council for more information. 

Some theory tests must be taken before the practical exam and involve multiple-choice questions and video clips to see how you handle potential hazards or accidents. 

  1. Language test

In 2016, Transport for London (TFL) said that all applications to become a taxi driver In London must meet an English language requirement. You can do this by taking a test approved by TFL.

Alternatively, you can provide some documentation of your English ability, e.g. GCSE, A-Level, or a Degree taught in English. 

If you’re operating outside of London, you may not be required to take this test; again, it’s best to check with your local council.

How to get your taxi driving licence

To get your licence, you will need to pass some mandatory tests. To start off, you will need to:

  • Hold a full EU or UK driving licence for a minimum of twelve months. If you want to work in London, you will need to have a full license for at least three years. 
  • Meet full background and medical checks.
  • Be aged at least 18 or 21 in some places (London, for example)

There are a few different ways to become a taxi driver. One popular way is completing a college course. By doing a course, you will gain an advantage over those who choose not to. Some 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 Drive 

Once you’re ready to apply for a license, you can apply through your local council, or if you’re based in London, you can apply through TFL

How to choose a career path 

The final step to becoming a taxi driver is choosing where and how you want to work. You can either choose to work for a taxi company or be self-employed. There are advantages and disadvantages of both that you’ll need to consider.

Working for a taxi company

Working for an established taxi company might be the best option for beginners just getting started. Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking of working for a taxi company: 

  • Tax, insurance or other technicalities are taken care of by the employer
  • You will be able to focus on building your driving skills and confidence
  • You have less freedom of choice when it comes to hours, routes and the type of car you will be driving

Self-employed

Going out on your own could be an option for more experienced drivers that have been in the taxi service for a long time. Here are some things to consider if you want to work for yourself: 

  • You have the freedom to choose when and where you’d like to work
  • You can hire more people and build a fleet of cabs
  • There’s stiff competition, and you will have to find a way to stand out from the crowd

No matter which you choose, the taxi industry has many opportunities for those who want to work where and when they want. 

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