Applying for a licence to become a taxi driver

Aim of this page

Providing you can drive, there’s not a huge amount of additional training you’ll need to get started as a taxi driver. Added to this the flexible hours and the ability to earn a reasonable living, and you can see why people with convictions seriously consider this type of work.

The aim of this page is to set out how a criminal record may affect your success in becoming a licensed taxi driver.

This is part of our information on looking for (and keeping) employment and volunteering.

Why is this important?

If you’re applying to become a licensed taxi driver you’ll need to apply to the licensing unit of your local council (or Transport for London, TfL, if you want to work in the capital). Councils all have slightly different ways of dealing with the disclosure of a criminal record with some appearing to be more willing to approve applications than others. It’s a good idea to do some research prior to applying as your nearest council may not be the best one to apply to.

As part of the application process, the council will carry out checks to determine whether you have a criminal record and it’s important that you have a good understanding of what you’ll need to disclose, and how to appeal if the council refuse your application.

What’s the criteria for getting a licence?

Each council will have their own licensing criteria but generally you’ll need to:

  • Have a full UK or EU driving licence
  • Have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check
  • Be able to get suitable taxi insurance
  • Be aged over 18 (21 in some areas).

Are there different types of taxi licence?

There are two types of taxi licence:

  • A hackney carriage licence – the vehicle and driver are immediately available for hire and can be hailed on the street
  • A private hire vehicle licence – these must be booked in advance through a licensed operator

The licensing criteria and qualifications are broadly very similar for both and your local council will be able to provide you with details of which licence to apply for.

In addition to the above, some councils will require you to hold an additional licence if you wish to undertake any type of school transport contract work.

Will I need a criminal record check to get a licence?

Irrespective of the licence you are applying for, all taxi drivers will require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.

If you have not been resident in the UK for the previous 5 years, some councils will also require you to have a Certificate of Good Conduct. You can apply for this at the relevant embassy in the UK.

Do people with convictions get licences?

The disclosure of a criminal record shouldn’t automatically exclude you from holding a taxi licence. The aim of the licensing authority is to ensure:

  • The person does not pose a threat to the public
  • That the public are protected from a dishonest person
  • The safeguarding of children or young people.

When considering your criminal record, the licensing authority should look at:

  • How relevant your offence is
  • How serious the offence was
  • The date of the conviction
  • The circumstances surrounding the conviction
  • Your age at the time of the conviction
  • Whether the conviction forms part of a pattern of offending
  • Any other relevant factors

The Department of Transport Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing: Best Practice Guidance states that you are less likely to be granted a licence if you have an unspent conviction relating to dishonesty, violence, a sexual offence or an offence relating to alcohol, drugs or controlled substances. However, it’s important to note that, because it involves an enhanced criminal record check, spent convictions will be considered too.

However, a Freedom of Information request done by the BBC earlier this year revealed that since 2012, three hundred drivers with convictions had been granted taxi licences across six councils in the north-west.

What can I do if I’m refused a licence?

If your application is refused, you have the right to appeal the decision through the licensing authority’s appeals panel.

If the licensing committee uphold the refusal then you can appeal to the Magistrates Court within 21 days although this can be expensive and you may wish to seek legal advice prior to going down this route.

Alternatively you could consider applying to another local council who may be more understanding in the way they treat people with criminal records.

Receiving a criminal record if you already hold a licence

If you already hold a licence and receive a conviction, caution or fixed penalty notice you will need to disclose this to the licensing authority in writing within 7 days. They will consider the seriousness of the offence, any aggravating or mitigating factors and your past driving history and will then decide what, if any, action to take. This may include suspending or revoking your licence.

You will have the right to appeal the decision either through the licensing committee or at the Magistrates Court.

Getting taxi insurance

Anybody who drives a taxi will need specific taxi insurance. Standard car insurance won’t cover you, even if it includes cover for business use. Taxi insurance is likely to be more expensive than ordinary car insurance as many insurers perceive there to be a higher risk of an accident and if you have an unspent conviction, especially if it’s for a motoring offence, then this will add to the expense. You may want to discuss the likely cost of insurance with a specialist broker.

Personal experiences

Do you have convictions? Have you applied for and been granted a taxi licence? If so, we’d like to hear from you. Send your story to our online magazine, theRecord.

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Useful links

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information on looking for (and keeping) employment and volunteering and criminal record checks for employment
  2. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, theRecord
This page was last fully reviewed and updated in September 2017. If you’ve spotted something that needs updating, please let us know by emailing the details to feedback@unlock.org.uk

 

 

 

 

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