The procedure for becoming a licensed private hire or chauffeur driver in London is governed by the Public Carriage Office (PCO). The PCO are controlled by Transport for London (TfL). The primary role of TfL is to implement the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy and manage transport services across the Capital. The PCO are part of the Surface Transport section within TfL.
The PCO insist that private hire vehicles must be booked in advance through a licensed private hire operator, drivers are not restricted as to where in London they can work, as long as they only undertake bookings made through a licensed operator. In order to operate as a driver, you will need to obtain a PCO private hire driver’s licence.
Private Hire Driver’s licence
To become a PCO licensed chauffeur, a candidate must obtain a private hire driver’s licence. The first step towards obtaining a private hire driver’s licence is to apply for a private hire vehicle driver application pack.
Private hire driver’s licence requirements:
You must be over 21 years of age, there is no upper age limit, providing you meet the other requirements, and in particular the medical fitness requirement.
Driving and Criminal Records Checks
Applicants are subject to a criminal record check before being licensed. You will be asked to obtain an enhanced criminal records check from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).
Your driving licence will also be examined to see if you have any driving convictions. You will need to have held a DVLA or other driving licence for at least three years before you can apply.
A driving or criminal record may or may not exclude you from obtaining a licence, which would be evaluated by the PCO when you apply.
A higher standard of medical fitness, called Group 2 Standards is required for a private hire licence. The standards are based upon DVLA Group 2, and are similar to those required for drivers of large goods vehicles, buses and coaches. You will be required to prove your medical fitness by undergoing a medical examination with your GP. Understandably certain conditions such as poor eyesight could result in an application being refused, and the PCO advise that you may wish to consult your GP before you apply.
Private hire drivers do not need to pass “The Knowledge” like London’s Taxi drivers, as jobs are always booked in advance, but the ability to demonstrate a range of route finding skills such as map reading and route selection are being implemented for the first time from April 2006, and the PCO have appointed a number of topographical testing centres for this purpose.
The range of topographical skills to be demonstrated are:
- map reading ability – how to use a map, index and grid reference
- route selection (local) – ability to identify and plan a route or routes (within a local area of London chosen by the applicant)
- route selection (intermediate) – ability to identify and plan a route (or routes) beyond their local area but within London
- route selection (long distance) – ability to identify and plan a route (or routes) to points outside London
- general topography – awareness of general geography of London, major arterial roads and locations beyond London (e.g. airports, towns, cities etc.)
A licence will not be granted without proof of topographical skills.
After you obtain your licence
Once you have successfully obtained a PCO driver’s licence you can then contact PCO licensed private hire operator’s for work. You would then either need to provide your own PCO registered vehicle or use one from the operator’s car fleet. This would largely depend on your own circumstances and preferences. Many drivers would prefer to buy and licence their own vehicle, as this gives them greater flexibility and a greater potential but you may prefer to use a fleet vehicle before you commit to purchasing your own car.
Becoming an iChauffeur driver
In addition to holding a valid and current PCO licence, iChauffeur require that you demonstrate and possess the following criteria and vehicle:
- A Transport for London licensed vehicle (usually under two year’s old)
- If required, a copy of the MOT
- A copy of the vehicle insurance
- 2 Character References
- 3 years chauffeur experience
- A smart suit
- You will asked to sign a confidentiality agreement – what is said in the car, stays in the car !
- A calm and professional attitude
- You will be asked to take our Chairman on a dummy chauffeur run to demonstrate your driving, topographical knowledge and chauffeur skills.
Please contact iChauffeur if you feel you possess the correct criteria for becoming an iChauffeur driver.