Getting a PCO licence: Everything you need to know (2023)

Written by Zego

Published on

Working as a private hire driver offers flexibility, independence, and the opportunity to earn a good income. But before starting your career as a private hire driver, you’ll need a PCO (Public Carriage Office) licence.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the entire process, requirements, and tips to help you succeed.

Step 1: Check that you’re eligible

Before diving into the PCO licence application process, make sure you meet the following basic requirements:

  • You should be at least 21 years old.
  • You should have held a full UK driving licence for at least 3 years.
  • You must have the legal right to live and work in the UK.

You’ll also need to make sure you have the right level of private hire taxi insurance cover. It keeps you and your passengers protected while you’re working. But more on that later.

Step 2: Complete an enhanced criminal records check

As a private hire driver, you'll be responsible for your passengers’ safety. To show that you're a trustworthy person, you'll need to undergo an enhanced criminal records check. This will involve providing your personal details and fingerprints for a thorough background investigation.

Step 3: Pass a medical examination

All PCO licence applicants must pass a medical examination to prove that they meet the DVLA Group 2 medical standards. This exam is carried out by a professional who has access to your past medical records. The goal is to confirm that you're in good health and capable of safely transporting passengers.

Step 4: Take two different assessments

To get your PCO licence, you'll need to pass two assessment tests:

Speaking and listening assessment: This test checks your communication skills, including your ability to understand and interact with passengers, drivers, and other road users.

Safety, equality and regulatory understanding assessment: This test measures your knowledge of road safety, regulations, and best practices, as well as your commitment to providing an inclusive and respectful service to every passenger.

Step 5: Prove your right to work and tax compliance

You'll need to provide proof of your legal right to live and work in the UK. This may include documents like a passport or a biometric residence permit. You’ll also need to provide a tax code check to verify that you're registered to pay tax.

Step 6: Show good geographical skills

If you’re looking to work as a private hire driver in London, you’ll need to have good knowledge of the city's roads and streets. This includes the ability to plan routes, read maps, and navigate the city efficiently.

Step 7: Apply (and wait to be approved)

Once you've completed all of the steps above, you should be ready to submit your PCO licence application. The entire process, from start to finish, usually takes around 3 to 4 months.

Once you’ve received your PCO licence, you'll be ready to start your new career as a private hire driver. Nice one!

Vehicle requirements for a PCO licence

To work as a private hire driver, your vehicle needs to meet specific requirements set by your local licensing authority. Usually, your car should be less than 10 years old, and it should meet the Euro 6 emissions standard.

These requirements can vary between each area and local council, so it’s always a good idea to make sure you know the requirements for your region.

If you’re considering a new vehicle for your private hire work, check out our blog post on the best cars for Uber drivers.

PCO licence renewal process

A PCO licence is generally valid for three years. Once it’s expired, you’ll need to renew it. The renewal process involves updating your personal and vehicle information, taking a new medical examination, and potentially retaking any relevant tests.

It's a good idea to plan for the renewal process well in advance, to avoid any disruptions to your earnings as a private hire driver.

Insurance for private hire drivers

As a private hire driver, you need the right level of insurance to protect yourself, your vehicle, and your passengers. Keep in mind that your standard car insurance (known as social, domestic and pleasure) probably won’t cover you for private hire work.

Here at Zego, we specialise in private hire insurance, with flexible policies to suit every driver. You can get a personalised quote online in minutes.

Thinking of becoming an Uber driver? Check out our blog post on what insurance you need to drive for Uber. You can also get an overview of general insurance costs for UK taxi drivers.

Frequently asked questions

Throughout this guide, we've covered the main steps you need to take to get your PCO licence. For even more information, check out these frequently asked questions from private hire drivers.

Do I need a PCO licence for Uber?

Yes, to work as an Uber driver, you'll need a PCO licence, also known as a Private Hire Licence (PHL), from your local issuing authority. It’s an essential part of becoming an Uber driver in the UK.

Can I drive for Uber with a UK licence?

Yes, you can drive for Uber with a valid UK driver's licence, as long as you also have a PCO (private hire) licence, and the right level of private hire insurance.

You can find out more about how to become an Uber driver here.

Is it worth getting a PCO licence?

Getting a PCO licence is a worthwhile investment if you’re looking for a flexible career as a private hire driver in the UK. The earnings can be good, and you get the freedom to set your own working hours.


A PCO licence is an essential part of your journey towards becoming a private hire driver. By following the steps outlined in this guide, and staying informed about the latest industry updates, you'll be ready to enjoy a successful career as a private hire taxi driver.