Buying a second hand Private Hire Vehicle

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.

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!)

PCO License Renewal

The PCO License renewal process is simple. The PCO License is valid for a period of 3 years, and every 3 years you will have to get it renewed in order to carry on working as a licensed private hire driver in London. Luckily Transport for London, who run the Public Carriage Officer (PCO), will send you your renewal forms before your current license expires. So all you need to do is remember to send them back.

Don’t leave it too late to renew your PCO license

It can take many weeks for PCO licence renewals to be processed. Don’t leave it too late otherwise your license may expire and you won’t be able to work. Coupled with this your insurance policy will be invalid too.

PCO Licence Renewal FormsIf you overlook the renewal of your licence make sure you don’t re-apply too late. If more than 3 months has lapsed from your licence expiry date before your renewal application will be refused.  In such a case you will be treated as a completely new applicant meaning you will have to go through the entire application process from the start.

What do I need?

As part of the renewal process, it is important that you follow these guidelines:

  • Read through thoroughly and sign the declarations
  • Send your renewal application form in before the expiration of your current PCO-licence
  • Remember to send both the Licence Fee and the Application Fee with your completed form
  • A new DBS (CRB) check is required (as they only have a validity of 3 months)
  • A new Medical Check is also required
  • The appropriate renewal payment

If you are required to send a medical form or a DBS form then these will be automatically included in your renewal application pack. If you wish to get your Medical Check done asap please call us on 020 3780 1055 and we’ll get you booked and seen asap.

Any Questions?

If you’ve got any questions regarding your renewal then please feel free to contact the PCO and Transport for London on:

Our office: 020 3780 1055

Tel: 0343 222 4444
Fax:  020 3054 5314
Email: TPH.enquiries@tfl.gov.uk

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.