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28 January 2020

How to become a Taxi Driver

by Jamie Bayliss

Becoming a taxi driver means you play an active role in transporting your passengers from A to B, safely, quickly and efficiently. There are many benefits of choosing taxi driving as a career, like flexible working hours and meeting people from all walks of life. The process of becoming a taxi driver differs on where you live and what type of licence you’re applying for. Some areas require extensive knowledge of the area, and public licences are typically harder to get than private.  If you’re based in London, TfL has a different structure – see our guide on becoming a London taxi driver.

There are two types of taxi drivers. Private hire drivers are only licenced to pick up fares who have pre-booked by phone, online or through an app. Public hire taxi drivers, often seen driving ‘Hackney Carriages’, are licenced to wait on taxi ranks on high streets, train stations and airports, and can also be hailed from the street. As these two types of taxi drivers require slightly different licences, you will need to choose which one you’d like to be. That said, it is worth keeping in mind that public hire drivers can also take on private pre-booked journeys. 

Alternatively, some licensing authorities also offer dual licences which would allow you to drive both Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles. This could be advantageous depending on your needs and circumstances as a taxi driver. 
 

What are a taxi driver’s duties?

As well as simply being a good driver, the main job of a taxi driver is to provide a service and deliver passengers from A to B. Certain characteristics and tasks are required to reflect this service and can help build a taxi driver’s reputation and business. These include:  

  • Picking up passengers and taking them to their destination safely and efficiently
  • Assisting customers, such as with belongings like shopping or suitcases
  • Taking the initiative to help passengers that may need help getting in and out of the vehicle
  • Calculating fares, taking payments and providing the correct change
  • Looking after your vehicle – ensuring it’s clean, safe and roadworthy
  • Being personable – having good customer service skills with the ability to talk to strangers confidently
  • Having patience and knowing how to react in potentially stressful situations
  • Having knowledge of the area – like road names, restaurants or places of interest - is a bonus and, in some areas, a necessity 

What you need to become a taxi driver

A career as a taxi driver is easily accessible for many people. To pass the requirements of being a taxi driver, you must be:

  • Aged 18 or over – some areas require you to be over 21
  • In possession of a full UK driving licence – different areas require you to have had this licence for a certain amount of time; check with your local council whether this would apply to you. EU licences can also be used, though this is dependent on the given authority’s regulations
  • Eligible to work in the UK
  • Able to pass a local knowledge test – this depends on the type of licence chosen and the area in which you live
  • Be of good character, verified by background and criminal record checks
  • Fit and healthy enough to pass medical checks
  • Have good English language skills
 

How to get a taxi licence

The process of getting your taxi licence depends on where you live and what your local council requires. It’s worth getting in touch with your council or checking their website to see what you’ll need to do.

All councils will require documents like proof of identity and a full UK licence, whilst others may require a local knowledge and English language test to be completed too. Investment in a vehicle is also something that councils will take into consideration. Each council has slightly different rules so it’s worth getting to grips with what’s required before you start the process to ensure you have everything you’ll need.
 

How much is a taxi licence?

The cost of a taxi licence again varies based on your local council and how much they charge. Usually, each part of the process has a separate price and some people find that these charges quickly add up to a substantial amount. It is advisable to do your research and see how much the licence application process will cost you overall before you begin the process to ensure that you can cover each part comfortably. 
 

How much does a taxi driver earn?

Taxi drivers are self-employed, so it’s rare that all drivers are able to maintain the same income every month as it depends on several variables. A driver in London, for example, will typically earn a higher salary because salaries are higher in this part of the UK. Salaries also depend on how many hours you are willing to put in, as well as times of the day. Drivers who work weekends and nights usually make more money because there are typically more people wanting a taxi at these times. 

Salaries often also depend on whether you work for a taxi company or are self-employed. Each company works differently, but it’s important to remember that there are necessary costs you’ll have to pay out of your salary. This includes MOTs and services, taxi insurance and fuel.
 

How to start a taxi business

Starting a taxi business takes time, commitment and hard work but if successful can be a life-changing career. Whether you’re starting out alone or want to employ from the outset, there are a few things you may need to think about before you begin your venture.

The market – If you live in an area that already has an abundance of taxi companies, you may find it hard to attract business. What is your selling point? Perhaps you’ll specialise in airport runs or focus on catering for large groups? It’s worth thinking about how your business will take off if there is already plenty of choice for your potential customers.

Licence – As well as a regular taxi driver licence, you’ll need a special licence that will allow you to operate a taxi company. If your company wants to do school runs, a separate badge needs to be issued by the council who is responsible for education in your area.

Insurance – Getting the correct cover is hugely important to ensure you, your passengers, employees and vehicles are protected. Our taxi insurance guide covers all you need to know.

Marketing – How are you going to shout about your new taxi business? A good website, social media and traditional advertising like flyers, leaflets and business cards are basic ways to promote your taxi company.

Professional help – Starting a company is a huge deal and can take its toll if you aren’t experienced. Make sure to ask business experts for the best course of action. You can speak to banks, accountants and consultants on the best method of starting a taxi business.
 

 

[The information contained in this post is to serve as a guide only. Requirements can be different depending on location and personal circumstances. For the most up to date information speak to your local licencing authority or council.]

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