Do you love to drive? Do you have good people skills and a head for directions? Do you fancy the flexibility of deciding your own hours? Then becoming a private hire driver might be the career path for you. This handy blog will outline everything you need to know about becoming licensed as a private hire driver in the UK.

Skills, qualifications and licence

The emergence of apps like Uber has led to a monumental growth in the number of people using private hire firms… as well as a similar surge in the need for drivers. While that means that there is plenty of competition out there, the good news is that anyone who meets the necessary criteria can apply for and receive a licence. Here are the basics skills and qualifications needed by anyone wishing to become a private hire driver in the UK:

  • Eligibility to work legally in the UK
  • A full UK or EU driving licence for at least 12 months (longer in certain parts of the UK)
  • Excellent driving skills
  • Medical clearance to meet DVLA Group 2 standards
  • Good character, as established by an enhanced criminal record check
  • Strong knowledge of the area in question, verified via an exam
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Excellent spoken English

If you meet all of the above criteria, you can submit your application for the licence along with the appropriate fee and, barring any unusual circumstances, you will be approved. Those who live in London can register through the TfL website, while those residing outside the UK capital are advised to contact their local authority to learn more about how the application process will work.

Possible obstacles

After receiving your licence (known in London as a Public Carriage Office or PCO licence), you will be free to begin looking for work. However, there are a number of things to be aware of which may pose a problem and which should be taken into consideration before committing to this career path.

The first stumbling block could prove to be the car itself. Some private hire firms may rent you a vehicle for a weekly fee, while others will demand that you provide your own. This will, of course, need to meet MOT standards and be in a fit and proper state to ferry passengers around, otherwise you will not enjoy much business. For younger drivers, the insurance on the car can be another difficulty, as elevated costs may make it impossible for them to afford on their own and unattractive for companies to subsidise.

It is likely that in London, from April 2019, your car will need to have CO2 emissions below 75g/km to avoid paying the Congestion Charge each day too – only the greenest cars will be exempt.

Another thing to be aware of is your autonomy. The majority of private hire firms in London only contract self-employed drivers as and when they need them, and while this may sound attractive for the freedom it can afford you, it offers little in the way of job security. The few firms who do offer PAYE contracts may only give you reduced hours or restrict your ability to work with other companies. It’s important to be aware of these details before committing to a company.

Become a Green Tomato

At Green Tomato Cars, as our name suggests, we operate a little differently from other private hire firms. Not only are we London’s number one environmentally-friendly taxi company, but we also believe in an ethical approach to all parts of our business – including looking after our fleet of private hire drivers.

As a Green Tomato driver, you’ll be afforded the chance to choose the days and hours that work for you, as well as a company car with no deposit and dedicated driver support service. What’s more, we’re currently recruiting 25 PAYE drivers to enjoy our next 25 zero-emission Toyota Mirai cars. This exciting opportunity offers an attractive pay package with impressive benefits, as well as the chance to drive a brand new zero-emissions vehicle and excellent career prospects.

If you think you’re the right person to serve as a Brand Ambassador for Green Tomato Cars, fill out the online form or email an up-to-date copy of your CV to and we’ll take things from there. We’re always on the hunt for new tomatoes to join our team and you might just be the one we’re searching for. We look forward to hearing from you!