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 All previous Topographical Test Centre accreditations have been withdrawn from 1st October 2016.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!


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