How to Become An Uber driver in London (2023)

Written by Zego

Published on

Thinking of becoming an Uber driver in London? You’re in the right place.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through Uber's requirements, the steps you need to take, and a few tips to help you build a successful career as an Uber driver in the UK's capital city.

Ready? Let's go!

Steps to becoming a London Uber driver

Step 1: Meet the basic Uber driver requirements

To become an Uber driver, you’ll need to meet a few requirements. These include being at least 21 years old, having at least three years of driving experience, and holding a valid UK or EU driving licence.

Step 2: Sign up to Uber

Once you’re sure you meet all of the requirements, head to the Uber website (or download the app) and sign up. You’ll need to create an account, provide your email address and phone number, and include that you’d like to drive in London.

Step 3: Attend an Ignition Session

Once you’ve signed up, you'll be invited to join an Ignition Session. This is a free support programme designed to help you get a Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licence, also known as a PCO (Public Carriage Office) licence in London. The session offers a background check and helps you gather the documents you need to work as an Uber driver.

Step 4: Apply for your Private Hire Licence

After completing the Ignition Session, you're ready to apply for your PHV licence via Transport for London (TfL). This is a mandatory requirement, and only TfL can issue this licence if you plan to drive in London.

Step 5: Take the tests

You'll need to complete two separate tests: the Topographical Skills Assessment (to show how well you know London’s road) and the English Language Test. Both of these ensure that you're ready to serve as a competent and professional Uber driver in London.

Step 6: Buy private hire (taxi) insurance

Before you can drive for Uber, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle is covered with a private hire insurance policy, also known as taxi insurance. This is a legal requirement and keeps your vehicle protected while it's being used for commercial hire.

Step 7: Start driving

Once you’ve got your PHV licence, taxi insurance, and a vehicle that meets Uber's requirements, you're ready to start earning money as a London Uber driver!

Two Uber drivers talking outside parked car in London

Getting private hire insurance

Private hire insurance, also known as taxi insurance, is an essential requirement for all Uber drivers. It’s actually a type of hire and reward insurance, a policy that covers your vehicle when it's being used to transport passengers or parcels in exchange for money.

It’s usually more comprehensive (and therefore a bit more expensive) than regular car insurance, due to the higher risks associated with driving professionally.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare quotes to get the best deal on your private hire insurance. It's also a good idea to check if the insurance policy includes public liability cover, which can protect you if a passenger or other member of the public makes a claim against you.

In any case, you must have private hire insurance before you can start driving for Uber.

What are the main requirements to become an Uber driver in London?

To start your journey as an Uber driver in London, you need to be over 21 years old, and have a valid UK or EU driving licence (with at least 3 years of driving experience). You’ll also need a National Insurance number, and a Private Hire Vehicle licence (also known as a PCO licence) issued by Transport for London (TFL).

Do I need private hire insurance (taxi insurance) to drive for Uber in London?

Yes, private hire insurance is a must-have when driving for Uber. This specific type of insurance is designed to cover drivers who carry passengers for hire or reward. You can choose the right type of coverage to suit your personal circumstances and driving habits.

How can I apply for a PCO licence in London?

Applying for a PCO licence in London involves a few different steps. You’ll need to get a medical check, complete an enhanced DBS check, take a topographical skills test, and finally submit your application to TFL along with the necessary fees.

London double decker red busses at night time.

What type of vehicle do I need to drive for Uber in London?

Your vehicle must meet certain requirements to be eligible for Uber. It needs to be a four-door car in good condition, no older than 10 years, and it must be insured with your name on the policy. Uber has a list of accepted vehicles on their website.

Can I rent a car to drive for Uber in London?

Yes, you can rent a car to drive for Uber in London. Companies like Drover and Splend offer rental services specifically for Uber drivers. However, you’ll need to take into account the costs of renting a car, as the added expense is likely to affect your earnings.

Is the topographical test difficult?

The topographical test assesses how well you can read a map and plan a journey. It's not typically considered 'difficult', but it is a good idea to prepare for it. Uber offers preparation sessions to help potential drivers get ready for this test.

What's the earning potential for an Uber driver in London?

The amount you can earn varies depending on things like how many hours you work, the time of day you choose to drive, and how organised you are with accepting and completing trips. As an independent contractor, you have the flexibility to drive more during high-demand periods to potentially increase your earnings.

Can I speed up the process of obtaining my PCO licence?

While there's no fast-track way to get your PCO licence, you can speed up the process by making sure you have all the right documents ready. Also, by completing each step of the application process as quickly as possible, you can help to get your licence in good time. So make sure you complete your enhanced DBS check, get a medical exam, register with HMRC, complete the safeguarding awareness training course, and take the TfL English test as soon as possible.

How long does it take to get a PCO License?

The whole process of getting a PCO licence typically takes around 3 to 4 months, although it may vary depending on different circumstances. This includes the time needed for the DBS check, medical examination, topographical test, and the processing of the application by TfL.

Can I apply for a PCO licence with points on my driving licence?

TfL may issue a PCO licence to drivers with up to nine penalty points on their driving licence. But those points could affect your ability to get insurance. It's best to check with your chosen insurer to know how penalty points might impact your cover.

How long after the topographical test will I receive my PCO licence?

Once you’ve passed your topographical test and all other requirements have been fulfilled, it typically takes between 12 to 16 weeks for your PCO licence application to be issued by TfL.

How much can you earn as a PCO driver?

Earnings for PCO drivers can vary based on the number of hours worked, the time of day you work, and how efficiently you complete each trip. With some strategic planning and a flexible approach to when you work, earnings as a PCO driver can be very good.

Can I apply for a PCO licence before having three years of driving experience?

No, you need to have held a full driving licence for a minimum of three years before you can apply for a PCO licence. This includes the two-year probationary period for UK licences. TfL will not consider granting a PCO License until this requirement has been met.

Is the DBS check for the PCO licence renewable?

Private hire drivers are required to renew their enhanced DBS check once every three years. This is part of the requirements set by TfL for keeping a valid PCO licence.

Do I need a PCO licence to drive for Uber?

Yes, all Uber drivers in London must hold a valid PCO licence issued by Transport for London (TfL).

Can I drive for Uber with points on my licence?

This depends on the number of points and the nature of the offences. You may be able to drive for Uber with some points on your licence, but you’ll need to check with them before applying. Keep in mind that having points on your licence could affect the cost and availability of your private hire insurance.