Taxi drivers in London enjoy the freedom that comes with self-employment, in one of the largest, most diverse and historically rich cities in the world. The road to becoming a London taxi driver is lined with many requirements, including an intensive test to ensure that applicants have a thorough knowledge of the Big Smoke's numerous streets and landmarks.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- U.K. or European Union citizenship
- Application pack
- Criminal record check
- DVLA Group 2 Standard medical exam
- Full DVLA, Northern Ireland or EEA state driving license
- Great Britain counterpart license (only for those holding the EEA state driving license)
- Passing score on the Knowledge test
Complete the form on the London tax driver application page (see Resources) to receive an application packet. Application is open only to U.K. or European citizens 21 or older.
Arrange for your full Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) driving license or European Economic Area (EEA) driving license. If you hold an EEA, you will also need the Great Britain counterpart license. Once you have met this requirement, you will need to take an additional driving test specifically designed for a licensed taxi.
Obtain an enhanced criminal record check from the Criminal Records Bureau, which is a division of the Home Office. This is part of a character check, which will also include a look at your driver's record. If you have certain convictions on your driver's record, this may affect your application.
Make an appointment with your doctor for a DVLA Group 2 Standard medical examination. You may be denied employment as a London taxi driver if your medical exam reveals certain conditions, such as serious heart problems, vision problems or epilepsy.
Arrange for payment of your fees. As of April 2010, there is a 50-pound fee for the written test, and a 200-pound fee to take the Knowledge exam. The taxi driving and wheelchair test may cost between 91 and 110 pounds, depending on the time and date of your test. There are additional fees that may affect you, including those for a taxi driver badge and vehicle inspection.
Study for and arrange to take the Knowledge. All London taxi drivers must pass this test; the version of the test depends on the license you wish to hold.
If you wish to be an All-London driver (the area within a six-mile radius from Charing Cross), you must become familiar with 320 routes in the city and all places of interest therein. Passing the All-London Knowledge takes between two and four years.
If you would rather be a Suburban driver, you will need to learn between 30 and 51 routes in detail, including places of interest. Most Suburban drivers pass this license in about two years. Suburban drivers can work in only one of nine suburban sectors.
Tips and warnings
- Always follow the seat belt laws when driving.
- Never operate a moving vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances.
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