There isn’t really any set pco license training or training providers for getting your PCO license but there are certain things you can do to make the process run a lot smoother and ensure you have a good chance of getting your license first time.
First off make sure you fulfil the requirements for becoming PCO licensed (Age, Character, Medical fitness, Route finding skills, Driving ability) then the only training you will need to take is to help you pass the topographical skills assessment. This is for the ‘route finding’ requirement of the job as most of what you will be doing is driving, something which you will have probably been doing for quite a while.
Route Finding Skills
You can see the exact specification for the topographical skills assessment on the topographical skills specification list page which will give you an insight into what you will need to know and there are . This will give you an idea of the type of questions you will be asked and you can prepare for these buy buying an A-Z map and a Road Atlas. If you want more coaching and training then most approved testing centres will offer training and advice before your test although you will often have to pay for this service.
A list of accredited topographical testing centres can be downloaded here and this includes their details, costs, and also whether they provide training. Costs for your topographical test range from £25-£50 for a half-day session including training, the assessment, and the pass certificate.
Apart from this there is no other formal training apart from when you get a job with a licensed operator who may have their own training and also your own personal training in order to keep to certain standards so that your customers get the best service.
For those starting out in the minicab trade we usually recommend that you rent a minicab before you buy one so that you get used to the new job and to reduce the upfront costs that come with getting PCO licensed. Any vehicle you do use will need to be a licensed Private Hire Vehicle (PHV).
After a while you may decide to either use your own car or buy a new one, but from January 2012 new rules were bought into place which imposed vehicle age restrictions and these are:
- Vehicles can be no older that 10 years from January 2012.
- From April 2012 all vehicles that are new to licensing must be no older than 5 years old.
- All newly licensed PHVs must meet the Euro 4 standards as a minimum.
So be aware of the above as if you are buying a car which already has a PHV license then it will only have a certain amount of life left in it as a minicab if it is approaching it’s 10th birthday, so a car on an ’05 plate could only be licensed until 2015.
If you’re buying a car that doesn’t have a current PHV license then that must be less than 5 years old and also meet the minimum Euro 4 emissions standards.
With the above rules, currently in 2013, it makes sense to buy a second hand car that already has a PHV license and is registered with the PCO and has held the registration since before 2012. This will allow you you buy a cheaper car and allow you to re-register the car until it is 10 years old. However, purchasing a brand new car will give you the full 10 years use as a Private Hire Vehicle (so long as you get it licensed every year). You will no doubt clock up a fair bit of mileage so the resale value of a new vehicle will decrease dramatically. Logically, all older vehicles will be phased out and all PHV’s will fall in the new desired age bracket of being no more than 5 years old. But we recommend using the current window of opportunity to it’s advantage.
Where to buy from
The operator you are working for will probably have some contacts for buying second-hand minicabs, but if you do decide to buy a car then TheVehicleSite.co.uk is a great place to look. Below is a list of current minicabs for sale on eBay that are still currently registered with the PCO. Work out whether the car has enough life left in it to justify the cost.
Advice for buying a minicab on eBay
Before you commit to buying don’t be afraid to ask questions of the seller and if possible check out the car in person and also get a car insurance quote for the vehicle so you know you can afford to insure the car if you win the auction. Most importantly make sure you see the correct paperwork to prove that the car is currently licensed with the PCO and get details so you can check it out on the Private Hire Licence Checker on the Transport for London website.
If you are just starting out in the private hire trade then it’s recommended that you hire your minicab in the first instance whilst you get to grips with the job and perhaps still finding out if it’s really the job for you.
All vehicles used for private hire need to be licensed with the Public Carriage Office so it’s not a case of simply using any car and there are certain cost implications with either option of either getting you own vehicle licensed or paying for rental. Please note that some operators will require you to have a vehicle new than 5 years old and yet again this may influence your decision as a newer car will cost more to buy.
How much does PHV rental cost?
You can usually rent a licensed private hire vehicle from your operator and this fee will vary from operator to operator but you are looking at paying around £150-£200 per week or around £35 a shift. This may sound a lot but this will also cover MOT, upkeep and repair, insurance, and should your vehicle breakdown then you can easily get a replacement and not lose out on any income.
There are also external companies now who offer PCO rentals but often these will cater for the higher-end vehicles are are only viable for short-term rents.
How much will it cost to use my own car?
After factoring the cost of buying your vehicle, the PCO Vehicle License will cost you around £114 and is outlined on this page. You will also be responsible for taxing your car, paying for the MoT, keeping the car in good condition, and you must also be aware of the amount of mileage you will be doing which may effect the amount of repairs on your car.
If you are looking to buy a second hand car then make sure you’re aware of the new rule changes for 2012 which relates to the age of your vehicle.
Top 10 PHV Manufacturers in London
There are currently just under 49,000 Private Hire Vehicles operating in the Greater London area and it may be of use to see what cars other drivers choose to use before deciding on buying or renting your own vehicle.
- Toyota – 7845
- Volkswagen – 7750
- Mercedes – 7284
- Vauxhall – 5961
- Ford – 5946
- Peugeot – 1899
- BMW – 1341
- Nissan – 1298
- Honda – 1054
- Chrysler – 942
These 10 manufacturers account for 41320 of the total 48778 Private Hire Vehicles in London so they should give you an idea on what other drivers choose to drive and may influence your own choices.
Need to obtain a PCO Vehicle License? Once you’ve got your PCO license then your next priority will be getting a job with an operator and also getting a vehicle so that you can start earning money. You have 2 choices when it comes to vehicles, you can either hire one or buy your own.
If you choose to buy your own vehicle or perhaps use one you already own then you will need to get the vehicle licensed by the Public Carriage Office before you can use it for your job and start taking passengers. Currently there is an age limit on any new vehicle being put forward for licensing. The vehicle cannot be more than 5 years old from the manufactured date. In addition to this, no vehicle can remain licensed beyond it’s 10th year from the manufacture date.
How old can my vehicle be?
The Mayors Air Quality Team has decided to put age limits on licensed taxis and private hire vehicles with a view to improving London’s air quality and environment and also providing improved safety for passengers and if your vehicle is too old then it won’t be licensed.
- With effect from 1 January 2012 private hire vehicles that are 10 years old or older will no longer be licensed.
- With effect from 1 April 2012 any new private hire vehicle that is more than 5 years old will not be licensed.
As of 1st Jan 2018 all PHV’s new to licensing must now be Euro 6 petrol or diesel or Euro 4 petrol-hybrid. Further emissions information can be accessed here.
There are age exemptions in place and exempted vehicles can be licensed for an additional 5 years. Visit the TfL website for more information.
Where can I get it licensed? (0343 222 5555)
Currently, Transport for London have outsourced the private hire inspection service to NSL Ltd and there are six inspection centres located around the London area.
- West – Heston – 20A Airlinks Industrial Estate, Spitfire Way, Heston TW5 9NR (map)
- North – Enfield – Unit 2 Watermill Centre, Edison Road, Enfield EN3 7XF (map)
- East – Crayford – Unit Q1, Acorn Industrial Park, Crayford, Kent DA1 4AL (map)
- South – Coulsdon – Unit B5 Redlands, Ulswater Crescent, Coulsdon CR5 2HT (map)
- Central East – Canning Town – 1 North Crescent, Canning Town, E16 4TL (map)
- Central West – Staples Corner – Unit 2 Aquarius, Staples Corner, Priestly Way, NW2 7AN (map)
To book an appointment to get your vehicle inspected and licensed call the NSL Call Centre on 0343 222 5555.
How much does it cost?
To ensure you’re up to date with the latest TfL fees please refer to the TfL website. You may also wish to refer to the following link.
What documents do I need?
If you’ve booked your vehicle in for it’s licence then please make sure you bring the following documents with you:
- The existing PHV licence (if applicable).
- V5c DVLA Vehicle Registration Certificate or the new Vehicle Automotive First Registration & Licence (AFRL) scheme certificate issued by the selling dealership.
- MoT certificate issued within the last 14 days
- Hire & Reward insurance documents
- Confirmation of appointment/booking letter.
- Any other relevant documentation relating to the vehicle, where appropriate, such as Single Vehicle Approval (SVA), evidence of vehicle modification or adaptation etc.
What does the PCO Vehicle Licence look like?
Licensed vehicles must have the licence badges displayed in both the front and rear windows of the vehicle and if the vehicle isn’t displaying these then it is probably not licensed and is breaking the law. The badges list the licence number, the vehicle registration, and also the expiry date.