In London, Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) are popularly known as minicabs. If you wish to drive a minicab in London, you need to apply for a Private Hire Driver’s Licence, commonly referred to as a PCO Licence. The Public Carriage Office (PCO) is responsible for regulating and licensing all PHVs and drivers in London. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the PCO Licence, including the application process, requirements, and costs.
What is a PCO Licence?
A PCO Licence is a legal requirement for any individual who wants to work as a private hire driver in London. It ensures that drivers are fit and proper to carry passengers and that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to provide a safe and comfortable journey to their customers. The licence is issued by Transport for London (TfL), and it is valid for three years.
To apply for a PCO Licence, you need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Check Eligibility
Before applying for a PCO Licence, you must ensure that you meet the following criteria:
- You are at least 21 years old.
- You have a full UK or European Economic Area (EEA) driving licence.
- You have the right to work in the UK.
- You have passed a driving assessment from an authorised provider.
Step 2: Obtain an English Language Qualification
All applicants for a PCO Licence must prove their English language proficiency. You can do this by providing a certificate from one of the following approved test providers:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Step 3: Apply for an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check
You must obtain an Enhanced DBS check before applying for a PCO Licence. This check will reveal any criminal convictions, cautions, or warnings that you may have. If you have any criminal records, TfL will consider them on a case-by-case basis.
Step 4: Complete the Online Application Form
You can complete the online application form on the TfL website. You will need to provide the following information:
- Personal details
- Contact information
- Driving licence details
- English language qualification
- National Insurance number
- Details of any medical conditions
- Details of any previous PCO Licences or Taxi and Private Hire Driver Licences
Step 5: Attend an Interview and Topographical Skills Test
After submitting your application, you will need to attend an interview and a topographical skills test. The test assesses your knowledge of the London street network, including your ability to plan routes and navigate using maps and GPS devices.
Step 6: Receive Your PCO Licence
If you pass the interview and the topographical skills test, TfL will issue you with a PCO Licence. The licence is valid for three years, after which you will need to renew it.
To maintain your PCO Licence, you need to meet the following requirements:
- You must have a valid driving licence.
- You must keep your vehicle in a roadworthy condition.
- You must display your PCO Licence on your vehicle.
- You must have the appropriate insurance cover for your vehicle and passengers.
- You must not have any criminal convictions, cautions, or warnings that may affect your fitness to drive.
The cost of obtaining a PCO Licence can vary depending on several factors, including the type of application and the length of the licence. Here’s an overview of the costs:
- Application fee: The current application fee is £310 for a three-year licence.
- DBS check fee: The current fee for an enhanced DBS check is £44.
- Medical examination fee: The fee for a medical examination varies depending on the doctor’s fee, but it usually costs around £80.
- Topographical skills assessment fee: The fee for a topographical skills assessment is £36