PCO Topographical Skills Specification & Training

The Following is the complete topographical skills specification list and this should prove helpful as anyone wishing to obtain a PCO “London Private Hire Drivers Licence” will need to undergo a Topographical Skills Assessment Test before their PCO Licence can be granted. With this information you should be able to study for your test and have the confidence to pass first time and continue your journey of getting your PCO Licence. Please note, not only do we carry out the topographical skills  assessment test but we also provide fully tailored topographical training packages which guarantee to get you PASSED the first time round. Please read our site for more information.

Part 1 – Overview

1. Introduction and background

2. Assessment structure

3. Module/Unit descriptions

4. Guidance on structure

5. Guidance on delivery – instruction/assessment methods

6. Recording evidence

Part 2 – Topographical Test: Module/unit structure

Part 3 – Detailed assessment criteria

Module/Unit 1: Ability to comprehend a map index, read a map and locate streets or places on a map

Module/Unit 2: Route selection (Local)

Module/Unit 3: Route selection (Intermediate)

Module/Unit 4: Route selection (Long distance)

Module/Unit 5: General Topography

 

Part 1 – Overview

1. Introduction and background

1.1 The PCO award in private hire topographical skills has been designed to meet the needs of private hire drivers wishing to work within the Greater London area. To fulfil the statutory requirement the Licensing Authority requires applicants to show to the authority’s satisfaction (whether by taking a test or otherwise) that they possess a level of:

(a) knowledge of London or parts of London, and

(b) general topographical skills, which appears to the authority to be appropriate.

1.2 In consultation with the private hire trade associations in London, and following widespread public consultation in July 2002, this specification has been developed and is considered to represent the appropriate standard of topographical skill that a private hire driver in London needs to demonstrate in order to become licensed.

2. Assessment structure

2.1 The assessment comprises five specific units or modules, which are:

Module 1 – Map reading ability

Module 2 – Route selection (Local)

Module 3 – Route selection (Intermediate)

Module 4 – Route selection (Long distance)

Module 5 – General topography

2.2 Paragraphs 2.3 to 6.1 below are intended to give practical guidance examples as to how an applicant can be assessed. These examples should not be regarded as prescriptive or necessarily appropriate to every applicant, but should be used as a framework for assessing each applicant in accordance with the detailed examples contained within Part 2 of this document entitled

‘Module Unit Structure’.

2.3 Module 1

The fundamental topographical skill of being able to understand how to use a map, index and grid reference system is assessed in Module 1.

2.4 Modules 2, 3 & 4

Each route selection module requires the applicant to identify the location of the start and finish points, demonstrate the appropriate route between the two points and answer a question related to the selected route.

It is considered appropriate that candidates can demonstrate the ability to use maps of different scales depending on the type of route to be planned. This can be achieved by requiring candidates to demonstrate a variety of route types. By asking for a broad range of skills, the assessment remains fitted to all types of private hire driver in all areas of London.

It is proposed that the assessment system would allow a candidate to select the area of the start points according to personal preference e.g. borough, postcode etc. of their home address or operating centre.

This allows the system to be designed to meet the needs of individual candidates, with questions based on the area in which they choose to operate. By tailoring the questions in this manner, not only are applicants demonstrating topographical skills but also applying their personal knowledge of London.

2.5 Module 5: General Topography

Whilst Modules 1, 2, 3 & 4 are assessing the fundamental topographical skills required of a private hire driver, Module 5 is designed to assess their more general knowledge of London and, as such, it should be assessed without reference to a map or other aid.

It is suggested that the subjects of questions 5D to 5I (as set out in Part 2) would relate to major locations e.g. airports, towns, cities etc. outside the Greater London area.

3. Module/Unit descriptions

3.1 Module/unit 1 is designed to assess the fundamental topographical skill of being able to understand how to use a map index and grid reference system. Module/units 2,3 and 4 require the applicant to identify the location of the start and finish points, demonstrate the appropriate route between two points and answer a question related to the selected route.

3.2 Candidates are expected to demonstrate their ability to use maps of different scales depending on the type of route to be planned. This can be achieved by requiring candidates to demonstrate a variety of route types.

3.3 It is proposed that the assessment system would allow a candidate to select the area of the start and finish points according to borough, postcode etc of their home address or operating centre. This would allow the system to be bespoke to the needs of individual candidates, with questions based on the area in which they choose to operate. By tailoring the questions in this manner, not only are applicants demonstrating topographical skills but also applying their personal knowledge of London.

3.4 Module/unit 5 is designed to assess the more general knowledge of London and as it should be assessed without reference to a map or other aid. It contains a series of questions on the general knowledge of London in relation to routes and motorways radiating outwards from central London. It may also

 

be relevant, for example, to include, where appropriate, the locations and routes to such places as major stations or transport hubs, famous tourist sites, points of local interest in the applicants chosen area, or locations relevant to the nature of the private hire operation the applicant intends to join.

4. Guidance on structure

4.1 The assessment is written in terms of learning outcomes, assessment requirements and underlying content. The learning outcomes summarise what candidates need to do to successfully achieve each unit. Each outcome is

then translated into concise bullet points of assessment requirements indicating what candidates need to demonstrate as their assessment for the unit. The content section of the specification details the underlying knowledge that candidates need in order to meet the assessment requirements.

4.2 The content will provide trainers with the coverage required by any training programme. Assessments should be designed to meet all assessment requirements. At the end of each unit there is a guidance section giving advice on assessment, delivery and available resources.

5. Guidance on delivery – instruction/assessment methods

5.1 The method of delivery is not prescriptive. The service provider will select an instruction/assessment method, or combination of methods, tailored to best meet the needs or requirements of individual applicants.

5.2 It is expected that the service provider will be able to take account of an applicant’s preferred method of learning and to tailor the assessment so as to maximise the performance of the applicant.

5.3 The delivery of each module should be structured in such a way that the instructor/assessor has enabled the applicant to:

  • learn effectively
  • demonstrate understanding
  • prove understanding.

6. Recording evidence

6.1 For each applicant, a record of the assessment and standard achieved must be retained and presented for inspection on request by the PCO or the applicant.

 

Part 2 – Topographical Test: Module/unit structure

Requirement Implementation Achievement Standard
Module 1Comprehension Ability to read English (or any other language specified by the Licensing Authority) Mandatory
Module 1Ability to read a map A:Understand index reference: A1: Understanding alphabetical indices Mandatory
A2: Understanding of page reference Mandatory
A3: Understanding of grid reference. Mandatory
B:Location identification: B1: Identification of correct page Mandatory
B2: Identification of correct grid square Mandatory
B3: Identification of location Mandatory
C:Location identification: C1: Identification of correct page Mandatory
C2: Identification of correct grid square Mandatory
C3: Identification of location Mandatory

 

Requirement Implementation Achievement Points
Module 2Local Route Selection Using skills obtained in Module 1 complete the following: 2A: Find pick up and drop addresses. (Write page and map reference)
2B: Using an atlas or mapping tool plot and demonstrate route from pick up address to drop address. Mandatory
2C: Name the nearest station to each of the pick up and drop addresses
Module 3IntermediateRoute Selection Using skills obtained in Module 1 complete the following: 3A: Find pick up and drop addresses. (Write page and map reference)
3B: Using atlas or mapping tool plot and demonstrate route from pick up address to drop address. Mandatory
3C: Identify ‘n’ postal districts, post towns or postal localities this route travels through.
Module 4Long DistanceRoute Selection(Routes to major locations in south east England) Using skills obtained in Module 1 complete the following: 4A: Find pick up and drop addresses. (Write page and map reference)
4B: Using atlas or mapping tool plot and demonstrate route from pick up address to drop address. Mandatory
4C: Name a minimum of2 motorways or ‘A’ class roads used in reaching the drop address.

 

Requirement Implementation Achievement Standard
Module 5General TopographicalQuestions To be answered without the use of an atlas or mapping tool. 5A: Name and draw the4 primary compass points Mandatory
5B: Name 4 counties bordering London
5C: Name 4 motorways which radiate from the M25 Mandatory
5D: From central London, which direction is XXX? Mandatory
5E: From central London which motorway would you use to reach 5D? Mandatory
5F: From centralLondon, which direction isXXX?
5G: From central London, which motorway would you use to reach 5F?
5H: From central London, which direction is XXX?
5I: From central London, which motorway would you use to reach 5H?

 

Part 3 – Detailed assessment criteria

Module/Unit 1: Ability to comprehend a map index, read a map and locate streets or places on a map

Description of unit

This is the fundamental topographical skill. It is important for a driver to be able to understand how to use a map, index and grid reference system.

Summary of outcomes

1) Ability of the private hire driver to read and understand a map index and map grid referencing.

2) Ability to apply grid references of specific streets or places. Locate their positions and map pages.

Content

1) Ability of the private hire driver to read and understand a map index and map referencing.

2) Ability to read a map this includes, understanding an index reference and identifying a location.

Outcomes and assessment requirements

Outcomes Assessment requirementsTo achieve each outcome a student must demonstrate the ability to:
1) Ability to read map indexes and references Understand alphabetical indicesUnderstand page references
2) Ability to apply map indexes and references Understand applied map indexes and references
3) Location Identification Identify the correct pageIdentify the correct grid squareIdentify the location

 

Module/Unit 2: Route selection (Local)

Description of unit

Using experience gained in unit 1, the candidate is expected to locate the start and finish points of a route (less than five miles), and show an appropriate route between these two points.

Summary of outcomes

1) The candidate must be able to identify the location of start and finish points by writing the page and map reference.

2) Use an atlas to demonstrate the route from start address to finish address.

3) Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses.

Content: For local routes

1) Find start and finish addresses. (write page and map reference number).

2) Using an atlas to plot and demonstrate routes from start address to finish address.

3) Demonstrate a variety of route types and ability to use maps of different scales.

4) Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses.

Outcomes and assessment requirements

Outcomes Assessment requirementsTo achieve each outcome a student must demonstrate the ability to:
1) Ability to locate start and finish addresses Find start and finish addresses
2) Ability to use an atlas to plot a route Use an atlas to plot a route from start address to finish address
3) Be able to name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses

 

Module/Unit 3: Route selection (Intermediate)

Description of unit

This unit requires the candidate to locate start and finish addresses. Use an atlas to plot the routes (between five to thirty miles) and to identify the postal districts, post towns or localities the route travels through.

Summary of outcomes

1) The candidate must be able to identify the location of start and finish points writing the page and map reference.

2) Use an atlas to demonstrate the route from start address to finish address.

3) Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses.

Content: For intermediate routes

1) Find start and finish addresses (write page and map reference number).

2) Using an atlas to demonstrate routes from start address to finish address.

3) Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses.

4) Identify an unlimited number of postal districts, postal towns or localities a specified route travels through.

Outcomes and assessment requirements

Outcomes Assessment requirementsTo achieve each outcome a student must demonstrate the ability to:
1) Ability to locate start and finish addresses Find start and finish addresses
2) Ability to use an atlas to plot a route Use an atlas to plot a route from start address to finish address
3) Be able to name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses
4) Identify an unlimited number of postal districts, towns or localities a specified route travels through Recognise an unlimited number of postal districts, towns or localities a specified route travels through

 

Module/Unit 4: Route selection (Long distance)

Description of unit

This unit requires the candidate to locate start and finish addresses and the nearest station to them. Use an atlas to plot the routes (over thirty miles) and to demonstrate a variety of route types. Finally to name two motorways or ‘A’ class roads used in reaching the finish addresses.

Summary of outcomes

1) The candidate must be able to identify the location of start and finish points writing the page and map reference.

2) Use an atlas to demonstrate the route from start address to finish address.

3) Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses.

Content: For Long distance routes

1) Find start and finish addresses (write page and map reference number).

2) Using an atlas to plot and demonstrate routes from start address to finish address.

3) Demonstrate a variety of route types e.g. the quickest route, the shortest route or the route avoiding motorways.

4) Be able to name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses.

5) Name a minimum of two motorways or ‘A’ class roads used in reaching the drop address.

Outcomes and assessment requirements

Outcomes Assessment requirementsTo achieve each outcome a student must demonstrate the ability to:
1) Ability to locate start and finish addresses Find start and finish addresses
2) Ability to use an atlas to plot a route Use an atlas to plot a route from start address to finish address
3) Be able to name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses Name the nearest station to each of the start and finish addresses
4) Demonstrate a variety of route types • Show knowledge of different route types
5) Name a minimum of two motorways or ‘A’ class roads used to reach the finish addresses • Know at least two motorways or ‘A’ class roads used to reach the finish addresses

 

Module/Unit 5: General Topography

Description of unit

Unit 5 is designed to test the candidates’ general knowledge of London and as such it should be tested without reference to a map or other aid. The candidate has to answer a series of questions about routes and motorways radiating outwards from central London.

Summary of outcomes

1) The candidate must know the compass points and develop a good sense of direction.

2) Learn the major motor ways originating from London and radiating outwards from the M25.

Content

1) Know the primary compass points and develop a good sense of direction.

2) Learn the major motor ways originating from London and radiating outwards from the M25.

3) Learn the counties surrounding London.

Outcomes and assessment requirements

Outcomes Assessment requirementsTo achieve each outcome a student must demonstrate the ability to:
1) The candidate must know the primary compass point Know the primary compass points and be able to apply this knowledge
2) Learn the major motorways originating from London and radiating outwards from the M25 Learn the major motorways originating from London and radiating outwards from the M25
3) Learn the counties surrounding London Learn the counties surrounding London

 

Lost PCO License

The simple fact is that if you’ve lost your PCO badge/license then you are not allowed to work as a private hire driver. It’s what marks you out as someone who has completed their training and got their PCO License. You must display your license in your vehicle at all times as this shows that you’re an official minicab driver and not a tout or illegal cabbie. If you have somehow lost your PCO License, it’s so important to get this sorted out so that you can continue working and earning your living.

Met PoliceIt could be that you’ve simple lost it, it’s been damaged, or it’s been stolen. If your badge or licence has been lost in a public place or stolen you must report this to the Police, who will provide you with a ‘Lost in Streets’ or Crime Reference’ number.

Complete the PCO license replacement form

Private hire drivers should download and complete the ‘Application for Replacement Badge and/or License Form‘, mark it for the attention of ‘Private Hire Driver Licensing’ and return it to TFL at the following address:

TFL – Taxi and Private Hire
Palestra
4th floor (Green zone)
197 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8NJ

On this form you will have to include your badge/license number so ensure you always keep a copy of this, along with your contact details, why you need a replacement, and you must also sign a declaration to state that no one else has knowingly got your license.

You will then be sent a replacement badge by Recorded Delivery post and your license will be updated with your new badge number.

If you have any questions telephone the PCO Office direct on 0343 222 4444.

PCO Operators License

If you want to take bookings or supply drivers for hire then you will need a PCO Operators License, this could be a minicab office on the high street or even if you are offering a one-man chauffeur service, either way you need to be licensed.

Types of license – Small & Standard

There are two types of operator’s license and you need to decide which best fits you:

  • ‘small’ operator’s license – These may only have a maximum of two private hire vehicles available for use at any one time.
  • ‘standard’ operator’s license – You can have any number of private hire vehicles on a ‘standard’ license.

Once you’ve decided which best describes you and have got your license there is no way you change change it without gong through the entire application process so think of what your plans are for the future (next 5 years) and whether you are thinking of expanding your business. This only difference in these applications are the price, with a ‘standard’ license costing double what a ‘small’ license costs.

Requirements

PCO Operators LicenceFit and Proper Person

All applicants must show they are a ‘fit and proper’ person by completing the PHV 103 Personal Declaration Form where you show that you have complied with other legal requirements connected with running a business. The form will ask you about any previous criminal convictions, if you have ever been declared bankrupt, etc, but please ensure you fill the form in correctly as also false information could lead to the removal of your license and legal proceedings against you.

Premises

Before you can apply you must also have at least one provisional ‘operating centre’ in London where you will be taking bookings and this could simply be a high street office or even your home address but ensure that you have the relevant planning permission to do this from these premises.

How much does the PCO Operators License Cost?

The total cost of the license depends of which type you apply for with the ‘Standard’ costing twice as much as the ‘Small’ license.

Small Operators License (valid 5 years)

  • License Application Fee = £703
  • Grant of License Fee = £550
  • Total = £1,253

Standard Operators License (valid 5 years)

  • License Application Fee = £703
  • Grant of License Fee = £1,707
  • Total = £2,410

You will need to send these fees in a single payment with your application form, and please note that the application fee in both instances is non-refundable so if your operators licence application is rejected then you will only receive the grant of license fee back.

How do I apply for an Operators License?

All the forms for your application are available to download below, and you will need:

Completed applications should be sent to:

PHV Operator Licensing Section
London Taxi and Private Hire
Palestra
4th Floor (Yellow Zone)
197 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8NJ

Private Hire Insurance

If you are using your own PCO licensed vehicle then you will need to have your own private hire insurance and as with insuring any car this doesn’t come cheap and you will need to shop around for a good deal. If you are under 25 then you will also find that premiums can be very high, with some companies not even offering insurance to those in the 21-25 age bracket.

Can I use my existing car insurance?

Due to the nature of the job you will need a policy that will cover the use of carrying passengers for hire or reward, and most standard car insurance policies do not include this. It may be worth checking with your provider as to whether they offer this ‘upgrade’.

How much does minicab insurance cost?

Typically a years insurance will cost around £2,000-£2,500 for fully comprehensive insurance on a standard saloon car, but there are a variety of factors that can effect this, but remember that not all insurance companies offer the same prices so shop around. If you feel that you can’t commit to paying this amount then you will find that most insurance companies will offer 3 month and 6 month policies as well as the standard 12 month, but the downside is that you will not be able to build up your no claims bonus with a short policy.

Private Hire Insurance PolicyHow can I reduce the cost of my insurance?

Buying a private hire insurance policy is just like getting insurance for your own private car so think of what you look for when getting that.

Levels of cover

You can choose from three levels of cover: comprehensive, third party fire and theft and third party only. Your choices for this will depend on the age and value of your vehicle. Fully Comp insurance will obviously cover everything but you will pay more, where as third party insurance will only protect your customers and other vehicle involved if you have an accident so you will be responsible for costs to your own vehicle, but it will bring down insurance costs closer to the £1,000 mark.

No claims discount

The no claims discount will only apply if you have no claims from another private hire insurance policy, you cannot normally transfer  NCD from your personal car to your minicab, but it is worth mentioning anyway as you could get some sort of discount. If you do build up your no claims you will get a substantial discount on your private hire policy ranging from 20% up to 60%. Having a clean driving license with no offences will also reduce costs.

Voluntary Excess

Adding extra voluntary excess on to your policy can save you money off your private hire insurance in the short term, but if you do increase the excess and have to make a claim then any savings will be lost. Compulsory Excess will normally start at around £250, so get quotes for increasing the level as see what the difference it.

Where can I get cheap private hire insurance?

There is no definitive answer to this as it’s not a straight-forward cost and depends many factors, so the best advice is to get as many quotes as you can. This may take a few hours longer but could end up saving you hundreds of pounds, so it’s well worth it. If you find that insurance costs are too high then you may consider renting a vehicle from your operator which will normally cover insurance and all other costs for about £35 a shift, which in some circumstances may prove cheaper than using or buying your own vehicle and having to insure it.

Replacement vehicles – a final note

If your vehicle breaks down or you are involved in an accident and your car needs to be repaired then it means you are not working and you are not earning, so it might be worth looking for an insurance policy that offers breakdown cover and replacement PCO licensed vehicles so you can still work. Costs for this will vary and so may not be an option, but when shopping for policies ask for a quote with this added and you may be surprised at how little extra it costs (or how much more!)

Should I rent or buy my minicab?

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

PCO Licence Vehicle HireThere 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.

  1. Toyota – 7845
  2. Volkswagen – 7750
  3. Mercedes – 7284
  4. Vauxhall – 5961
  5. Ford – 5946
  6. Peugeot – 1899
  7. BMW – 1341
  8. Nissan – 1298
  9. Honda – 1054
  10. 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.

PCO Vehicle License

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?

January 2012 - Changes for PHVThe Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy 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.

On a side note,  from 1 April 2012 any new private hire vehicle will, as a minimum, have to satisfy Euro 4 emission standards.

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?

As of March 2013 it costs £114 for the licence process (application fee=£87 / Grant of Licence=£27) and these fees are reviewed on an annual basis. As of 2nd April 2013 these fees will be reduced to £100 (£65 application fee and £35 for the licence fee). If your vehicle fails the test, then you are given a free re-test and if your vehicle fails this then you can apply for a refund of the ‘Grant of Licence’ but the application fee is non-refundable.

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).
  • V5 DVLA Vehicle Registration Certificate or the new Vehicle Automotive First Registration & Licence (AFRL) scheme certificate issued by the selling dealership.
  • MoT certificate for vehicles over 12 months old at the date of inspection. The MoT must have been issued not more than 30 days from the date of the licensing inspection.
  • Certificate of insurance or insurance bond for vehicles insured under a group cover.
  • Valid Tax Disc.
  • 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?

PCO Vehicle LicenceLicensed 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.

CRB Check for PCO License Application

As of January 2012 you must apply for an enhanced DBS check before you send off your PCO licence application. You will need to include a DBS reference number in your application. The DBS Check searches your details against criminal records and other sources, including the Police National Computer and will reveal convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings. Previously this type of check was referred to as an enhanced CRB check. It’s now known as a DBS check.

The PCO needs to be sure that you are safe, honest and trustworthy, and that you are the type of person who they want as private hire drivers. This DBS check will help them make their decisions and decide whether you are eligible for the PCO Licence based on this information.

You can either apply online or by post and this must be done through Onlinedisclosures.co.uk, which manages taxi and private hire DBS checks on behalf of the PCO. Once you have applied for your DBS check and had your identity verified, you will be given a reference number and this must be included on the application form.

The DBS check is only valid for 3 months so make sure you send off your application as soon as you get this reference number. If you leave it too long then you may be forced to get a new CRB check.

Apply Online

Online applications are not entirely online. To start the online DBS application click here. You will be able to download a guide to help you through the process. However, all you need to do is:

  1. Complete personal details online.
  2. Select ID for verification using the online help tool and print off the the form which will contain a unique barcode token.
  3. Verify your identity at the Post Office by taking your unique barcoded sheet plus three original documents that prove your identity (Eg Driving License, Passport and Bank Statement). To locate your nearest Post Office Offering the ID verification Service please click Post Office Locations tab here.
  4. Pay for the DBS application at the Post Office (£56.85)

You will receive your E reference number (required on the PCO Licence Application Form) within 3-5 working days via email.

If you prefer you can request a paper application pack by contacting Onlinedisclosures.co.uk on 0845 251 5000 or emailing tphcrb@tmgcrb.co.uk. The paper application costs £58.85 plus £7.15 ID checking payment.

Please note with effect from 17/06/2013 only one disclosure certificate will be sent out to the applicant (prevously 2 were sent out, one to TfL and one to the applicant) – in the event TfL are informed that the DBS has disclosed information to the applicant you will receive a letter asking  you to forward your original certificate. This process will be undertaken on behalf of TfL by their service provider.

Applicants must respond to any correspondence from Onlinedisclosures.co.uk. Failure to do so could result in them not being licensed. TfL cannot process any applications until a result has been received on your DBS check.

A copy of the disclosure certificate will then be sent to TfL before returning it to the driver. TfL will then destroy their copy once a licensing decision has been made and nobody will retain any copies.

What if I have a criminal record?

Having a criminal record doesn’t instantly disqualify you from getting licensed but if you do have any previous convictions then they will be assessed on a case by case basis using the following criteria:

  • Nature of the offence(s)
  • Circumstances in which any offence was committed
  • Circumstances of the individual concerned
  • Subsequent periods of good behaviour
  • Overall conviction history
  • Sentence imposed by the court
  • The applicant’s history as an “existing private hire driver” (if any)
  • Any other character check considered reasonable (e.g. personal references)

Please note that sexual and violent offences will most definitely rule you completely out from getting your PCO Licence although it is still possible to have a drink-driving charge but still be eligible to get a PCO Licence.

What if I have points on my driving licence?

Having points can’t stop you from applying and getting your PCO licence as it depends what the conviction was for, the sentence imposed and how long ago it was. If the points are for minor offences then you may find that there is no problem with your application but there is no clear yes/no for offences and you may only find out once you’ve applied. Be aware though that points on your licence could effect your insurance premiums.

I’ve already had a DBS Check, do I need a new one?

Even if you  have had a DBS check from your previous employment you will still need to complete a new Enhanced Disclosure Form as you need a new DBS check for every new job you apply for.

Need help with completing your DBS/CRB ? If you need any help and support with your DBS application you can contact us for assistance or simply contact the DBS administration team on 0845 251 5000 between 8.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday with a 24-hour messaging service or email tphcrb@tmgcrb.co.uk

Details About TfL’s Topographical Skills Test

One of the major requirements for your PCO license application is that you understand the details about TfL’s Topographical Skills Test. Pretty obvious when considering your job will be taking people from one place to another. Private hire journeys are pre-booked so all of them can be pre-planned. However, you won’t need the same level of knowledge as a London black cab driver.

TfL have changed the whole Topographical Test content and delivery. All previous Topographical Test Centre accreditations have been withdrawn from 1st October 2016. This means if you have been offered a Test Certificate after October 2016 it’s invalid. TfL are fully aware of centres who continue to back-date Test Certificates and continue to investigate these centres.

Only book your training & test with a company that has the full authorisation to carry out the Tests. Ask the centre manager for their proof that they are authorised to carry out the tests and where the TfL assessor is. The TfL assessor must be present at all Tests from October 2016. Failing to acknowledge this means your fitness and repute to hold a licence could be tarnished so much that you will never be able to apply for a PCO Licence again!

What will I be tested on?

During the assessment you will need to demonstrate the skills listed below which will give you a general idea of what is required:

General Topographical Skills

  • You need to be able to read and understand basic written English – instructions for one task will be provided in writing only to test this.
  • You need to be able to look-up and locate streets, stations, and hospitals within the Greater London A-Z Map Book.
  • You need to be able to identify major stations, post towns, districts, hospitals, stations, and postal districts from a map book.
  • You need to know the 4 primary compass points – N,S,E, & W.
  • You need to know the names of the counties bordering London – e.g. Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey etc.
  • You need to know the motorways that radiate from the M25 – e.g. M20, M1, M11, M4 etc.
  • You need to be able to specify the direction from London of a major town – for example you may be asked which direction from London is Brighton? You will need to answer South in this example.
  • You need to know which motorway you would use to reach a major town/airport – for example you may be asked which motorway to reach Brighton? You will need to answer M23 in this example.

 

Route Planning Tasks
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  • You need to be able to plan a local route between two points in the Greater London A-Z Map.
  • You need to be able to plan a route between 5 and 30 miles between two points in the Greater London A-Z Map.
  • You need to be able to plan a route that is over 30 miles from Central London, using the Greater London A-Z Map, A UK Street Map, and a local map of the destination area (all maps will be provided) using a motorway where appropriate.
  • You need to be able to plan a route that is over 30 miles from Central London, using the Greater London A-Z Map, A UK Street Map, and a local map of the destination area (all maps will be provided) avoiding all motorways.

As you notice you will have to be able to use a  Master Atlas A-Z  of London which include knowledge of the points of the compass and the motorway network and we strongly recommend you buy a copy to aid you with your topographical skills training.

Where can I take the Topographical Skills Test?

NO company in London is legally authorised to independently take the Topographical Tests. However, we have been authorised and approved by TfL to host the Topographical Tests in East London . All you need to do is:

  1. Call 0343 222 4444 and request to book your Topographical Test with The Vehicle Site.
  2. Call The Vehicle Site on 020 3780 1055 and book yourself on some training on the morning of your Test day. We offer priority training slots for all clients who have booked with us. You also get a free re-sit.
  3. Attend your appointments and please don’t forget your glasses!

All our test start times are in the afternoon. This enables you to book your training session on the same morning of the test. Priority slots will be given to those whom have booked the Test with The Vehicle Site. Take advantage of our FREE TEST AND FREE RE-SIT by opting for our Platinum Package.

If you want our advice, it’s better to book a training session prior to the exam date, like a week or two before your actual date. We offer full training on the most up-to-date modules and only when you’re ready to take the test will we book you in at our same site in Barking.

Why Not Take A Topographical Trial Test?

We also have a Topographical Trial Test. This is where you can come into our office and take a trial Topographical Test with us. We’ll give you detailed feedback and pinpoint areas of concern. The trial test is done under strict examination conditions in a professional environment. No talking or cheating! It’s an excellent way to prove you are ready for the real thing with TfL. For £25 it’s got to be a bargain! Book now.

Remember, when taking the Topographical Test with TfL you only get 2 chances and if you fail twice your application is rejected and you have to re-submit a new application from scratch.

The Topographical Test preparation options with us are endless, so if you have something in mind give us a call and lets see what we can do.

There are some firms who offer “cash for certificates” this is illegal and please note, when such firms are caught, they and those people that took advantage of this illegal route will be punished, TfL will revoke such licenses.

Have a think about it…. We want you to get on the road legally, start earning money legally and stay legal!

Exemptions

You will not need to take the topographical skills assessment if you have evidence of any of the following:

      • You were previously licensed as a London private hire vehicle driver and had passed a TPH Skills Assessment
      • Are a licensed All London or Suburban London taxi driver
      • Are a professional London tourist guide (e.g. Blue Badge Driver Guide)
      • Can provide evidence of a relevant vocational qualification in passenger transport (eg NVQ or equivalent)

If this is the case then include a photocopy of this in your PCO license application.

Topographical Skills Specification List & Training

The new modules for the Topographical Test have been introduced and we’ll be providing the full training on these. The best thing for you to do is give us a call and we can discuss your options. 020 3780 1055

PCO License Requirements

Before you apply, you’ll need to meet all the following PCO License requirements:

Age

To be a licensed driver you must be at least 21 years of age and there are no exceptions to this rule. There is no upper age limit though, provided you meet the other licensing requirements, so you can look forward to a long career in the private hire business.

Character

To ensure that the drivers it licenses are safe, honest and trustworthy you will have to undergo an Enhanced Disclosure check from the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)  before being licensed. Having a record won’t necessarily prevent you from being licensed though as it depends what type of offence it was for and how long ago it was. The PCO will also look at your driving license to see if you have any driving convictions but again this won’t necessarily discount you from the application process.

Medical Fitness

Private hire drivers are professional drivers carrying passengers for hire and reward and so the PCO requires that you will need to have a similar medical check-up to those required for drivers of large goods vehicles, buses and coaches. These standards are based upon DVLA Group 2 you will need to book an appointment with your GP for this examination.

It is difficult to cover all possibilities, but certain conditions such as epilepsy, poor eyesight, insulin treated diabetes and serious heart problems could result in an application being refused. If possible make this section your priority as soon as you get your application form as an underlying condition could mean there is no point continuing with the application process.

Route Finding Skills

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You won’t need the same knowledge and skills as a taxi driver because private hire journeys are pre-booked so journeys can be planned but you will still need to demonstrate skills which allow you to plan a journey including map reading and route selection.You will have to provide evidence of your topographical skills from an accredited topographical testing centre when sending back your application form.

Driving Ability

You must hold a full DVLA, Northern Ireland or European Economic Area (EEA) state driving license and must have had the license for at least 3 years. If you hold an EAA license then you must also obtain a GB counterpart before you can apply. If you haven’t held these for the required amount of time then there will be no point of applying.

English Language Requirement

All applicants must prove with documentary evidence, that they are able to speak, listen, read and write in English. There are many qualifications which are satisfactory forms of proof. For further details please give us a call and we can discuss your options.