Getting a PCO licence in London

Public carriage office (PCO) is a department of Transportation for London (TfL) which is responsible for issuing the license for minicab drivers and chauffeurs. In order to become a private driver in the UK working with PHV operators and rideshare apps, you need to get a PCO license. This license also has some requirements. If you are about to get a PCO license, don’t miss to read this article to the end to understand all you need.

Table of content

  • What is a PCO license?
  • Requirements to obtain a PCO license
  • Application costs of PCO license in London
  • How to train for a PCO license?
  • What is the next step to be a PCO driver?
  • What are the car requirements? + meaning of PCO car
  • How much does a PCO driver earn?
  • FAQs about PCO license

What is a PCO license?

When you plan to be a private cab in the UK, the transport for London office would like to make sure if you are a qualified driver or not. These qualifications are done in different fields including:

  1. Age
  2. Driving skills
  3. Eligibility to work in the UK
  4. Language skills
  5. Topographical skills
  6. Background checks
  7. Medical checkups
  8. Payments

Let’s have a detailed view of each of the mentioned requirements.

Public carriage office

Requirements to obtain a PCO license

If you want to be a private hire driver, you should get a PCO license also known as TfL private hire vehicle license. In order to get the license, you need to meet the requirements of Tfl thoroughly.

1.   Age Requirements

Being at least 21 years old with 3 years of driving experience is the basic requirement of TfL. It means if you have got your driving license at age of 18, at age of 21 you will be eligible to get a PCO license. The later you got your driver license, the later you will be eligible.

2.     You should have the driving license

Driving license is a must. If you won’t be able to drive a car, how would you want to be a PCO driver?

3.     You must have the work permit in London

Eligibility in the UK is one of the other important factors. If you are a native British, there won’t be any problem in this issue, but if you are from out of the UK, you need to obtain the eligibility to work in the UK and London.

4.     You’ll need to prove your English proficiency level or take an English Language Test

Working as a PCO driver in London means having direct communication with native English speakers, so you will have to be able to speak and understand English fluently. Therefore, there is a language test of PCO license which examines your language skills and unless you don’t get a B1 level, you wouldn’t be able to get the license.

In order to improve your language skills, try to study real based conversations. You can also read our blog post about “English language test” to learn more about the test and how to improve your language skills.

Besides the test, you can offer a reasonable degree proving your language level (such as IELTS or TOEFL). This way taking the language test won’t be necessary.

5.    Topographical test

Another test to pass is the topographical test which evaluates your performance in reading maps to find the best routes. You can also learn more about this test through the article of “topographical skill test” in G&M Direct Hire blog.

6.     You’ll have to do a background check

This license has considered the background of non-public hire drivers to ensure that “they are of an excellent character”. This means that they want to see if you have any record of criminal activity in the past to make sure, from a personality point of view, you are a good guy!

7.     You should do a Medical check-up

It’s tons of tests and checks, but after this is done it’ll hopefully all be worthwhile. It also shows your health condition and provides valuable health data for you.

TfL has published a list of their recommendations on the website of the State. This is for the physician to fill in, so it’s a good thing to know what they’re usually looking for in these assessments. You’re going to have to make an appointment with your specialist, who may be able to complete this report, to ensure that you’re fit to drive.

8.     Application Fees

If you apply for the PCO license, you should know that this license costs an arm and a leg though it is worth it! So prepare yourself for the thing that you should pay for which we look thoroughly in the coming section.

Application costs of PCO license in London

How much is the application cost? Is that your question? Then keep reading!

The table below shows the usual cost of an application for PCO license in London. It’s worth noting that some costs may vary from this table.

pco car


DBS disclosure apply £52 (online)
£54   (paper)
Licence apply fee £124
Grant of licence fee £186
Post Office Check and Send £10.50
English language assessment (if applicable) £180 – £200
Topographical assessment (if applicable) £75
Medical Medical Fee of examining by doctor
  Example total: £644 excluding cost of medical


get PCO licence

How to train for a PCO license?

Unfortunately, there is no particular training course for the PCO License to be prepared completely. However, you will obtain assistance with two aspects:

  1. The English test
  2. The topographical skills test.

As long as you are prepared for the mentioned tests, you will have a high chance to pass the whole score limit and get the license.

What is the next step to be a PCO driver?

Did you pass all the test and requirements? I bet you have the PCO license now! If so, firstly congratulations and secondly you are going to pass the next step. After obtaining the PCO license, whether you want to join a rideshare app or working as a freelance private driver, you need to own a PCO car. The PCO car, buying or renting, is the next step.

What are the car requirements? + meaning of PCO car

The whole thing is about becoming a private hire driver. Therefore, after getting the licenses there is another need called “Vehicle”. Here, PCO cars take part in.

What is a PCO car?

A vehicle that meets the requirements of the TfL, from efficiency, age and gas producing points of views, is a PCO car. You can either rent a car or use your personal vehicle. We highly recommend you a PCO car hire in London as it is a more reasonable choice.

How much does a PCO driver earn?

Well, we have a comprehensive article about “how much does an Uber driver earn in different countries?” that we invite you to read it. The reason we mention Uber drivers as PCO drivers is that Uber is the most popular rideshare app currently in the world .

Generally, to have a view of the earnings as well, on average, Uber drivers will make about £565 every 35-45-hour working per week, which equals about £15 per hour. Note that a well-mannered PCO driver in London won’t be excluded of tips!

FAQs about PCO license

Becoming a PCO driver is getting more and more common in big cities including London. In order to become a PCO driver in the UK, you need to have a PCO license. We tried our best to make it easier for everyone to have a clear view of the procedure of obtaining a PCO license in the UK. Hope reading the article would be beneficial to all beginners in this issue. However you may still have a few questions with no answers in the article, then we offer you to keep reading and check the FAQs of this article as well.

Uber driver

How long does it take to obtain a PCO license?

Generally, there is no specific time range estimated for obtaining PCO license, since it totally depends on you. You can simply pass all the tests and requirements in a month and have the PCO license in the next month or postpone the tests and receive your license after 6 months!
If you are motivated enough, you can obtain the PCO license in 2 or 3 months.

Why is it necessary to get a PCO license?

Every job, regardless of how connected you are with people, requires skills beside physical and mental health. The main mission of the PCO license is to clarify qualified drivers from unqualified.

Where can I apply for PCO license?

Check the official website of TfL and register online to start the process of tests and documentation upload. You can also search for PCO license centers to find the closest departments to you.

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