PCO License Training

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

Private Hire Driver London MapYou 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.

Further Training

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.

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.

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
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 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

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
Get your AA Guide Now

  • 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

Medical Fitness Examination for the PCO License

As part of your application to become a PCO licensed minicab driver you will have to prove your fitness by undergoing a medical examination with a GP who will give you the same medical check as that required of drivers of large goods vehicles (LGV/HGV), buses and coaches (PCV/PSV) which is the DVLA Group 2 standard.

Please note, this cost is not covered under the NHS and you will be required to pay yourself. We have access to independent GP’s who can carry out your Medical Check on-sight. They charge a respectable rate of £80 for the full Medical Check + Eye Test. Please give us a call on 020 3780 1055 and we can facilitate an appointment within the same week.

If you have any medical condition(s) and are unsure as to whether or not you will get licensed, please book an appointment and make this your first priority. It’s advisable to make the PCO Medical examination your priority so if a problem does arise and you fail the medical then you will not have wasted time and money on the other elements of the application process. Please click here for our Medical Check Package and Costs.

What does the medical examination involve?

PCO Licence Medical Declaration FormOnce you’ve booked your appointment take along your PHV/204 form which is included in the application pack and head to your chosen GP’s surgery. You should already have filled out the first section of this form marked ‘to be completed by you’. You will be required to give a urine sample as they will be testing for diabetes so best to drink a pint of water before you leave the house. The examination will only take around 30 minutes and you will be asked questions about the following topics:

  • cardiovascular
  • endocrine system
  • musculoskeletal
  • neurological
  • psychiatric
  • vision

Based on your answers and the results of the tests your doctor will give opinion as to whether you satisfy the DVLA Group 2 medical standards and they will complete the remainder of the PHV/204 form, sign it, and put their surgery stamp on it. You will then need to send this form back with your PCO license application.

What medical conditions could effect my application?

There are no definitive yes or no’s to what what medical conditions could prevent you from passing this examinations but if you have any of the ailments listed below then it’s highly likely that your PCO license application will be refused:

  • Epilepsy
  • Insulin treated/insulin dependant diabetes
  • Monocular or poor vision
  • A progressive degenerative illness
  • A history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • A history of mental illness or severe mental handicap
  • A physical disability which might impair the ability to discharge the requirements of a vocational driver
  • Heart problems
  • Neurological or neurosurgical disorders (.e.g strokes, blackouts, head injuries)
  • Certain prescribed medications.

Please be aware that if some of your conditions are in the past then you may still pass this examination e.g. if you have had a stroke over a year ago and as long as there are no residual impairments you may be ruled fit but each case is dealt with on an individual basis so it’s worth consulting your GP about this and undergoing the medical fitness examination if you still really want to be a minicab driver.

PCO License Application

To make a PCO License Application you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be at least 21 years old
  2. Undergo a DBS Check
  3. Undergo a Medical Examination + Eye Test
  4. Demonstrate sound Topographical Skills
  5. Have an ability to Speak, listen, read & write in English

Please also visit our sister website at www.pco-licence.com

TfL are continuously enhancing the PCO License Application procedure.  Rest assured we are London’s Experts and will ensure our services continue to meet all the latest changes.

  Speed up your your PCO License Application and get Licensed within 3 to 6 weeks. Please click here and read about our Platinum Package.

What will I get sent in the PCO License application pack?

PCO Licence ApplicationIf you request a PCO Licence Application Pack, once it arrives you will find the following:

  1. Envelope – This is to send your forms back but also has a handy checklist on the back make sure you’ve included all the right forms before you pop them in the post.
  2. PHV/203– This is the actual application form.
  3. PHV/204 – This is the Medical Declaration form which needs to be initially completed by you and then completed and stamped by a GP when you have your medical check. Please see our Packages page for further info. We have TfL approved GP’s and can get your PCO Medical Check + Eye Test done on-sight.
  4. Payment details –The outlines the fees and payment methods for your application.
  5. Topographical Test Information Sheet– This details what you need to do for your topographical test.
  6. Post Office ‘Check and Send’ Service – If you’re sending your application from a post office in the Greater London Area then you can pay £7.50 at the desk and they will check over your application. PLEASE NOTE:  The Post Office do not work for TfL and do not know all the Licensing rules/requirements . This can result in processing delays. However, if you wish to Fast Track your application and make sure it’s 100% correct please give us a call on 020 3780 1055. We can get you licensed within 3 to 6 weeks.
  7. DBS Disclosure Form – This must be completed and will detail any criminal convictions you may have which could affect your application for the PCO License. You can make a paper application or make the application partly online and partly at the Post Office. Once again, we provide full support and assistance in this area too. Just call and ask for our Platinum Package.
  8. English Language requirement detail sheet

What needs to be sent back to TfL?

Here’s a general list of things you’ll be required to send:

  • PCO License application form (PHV/203) including your DBS reference number.
  • Medical form (PHV/204) signed and stamped by a GP (doctor)
  • Application Fee ( £250)
  • A photocopy of your DVLA driving licence or EEA driving licence and GB counterpart
  • A photocopy of your passport or other proof to show you have the right to live and work in the UK (Dependant on your Passport type)
  • A photocopy of the certificate showing you have passed the topographical test
  • Passport photograph for your new license
  • Any further relevant details

How long does it take to get my PCO License?

If you have sent your PCO License application to TfL remember, it can take up to 16 weeks for it to be processed and it’s worth noting that renewal applications are always processed before the existing license expires so there is no definite timescale to how long it takes. Just make sure that you’ve completed the forms as best as you can so that there are no hold-ups just because you didn’t fill in part of a form. Other delays can be put down to the wait for your DBS Check as it’s not only minicab drivers who need to be checked, but teachers, nurses, etc.

Why not opt for our professional services? We can complete your entire PCO Application Forms, arrange for your PCO Medical Check + Eye Test, get you trained for the Topographical Test and do your DBS check all in one day! Please call 020 3780 1055 and ask for our Platinum Package.

Where are my PCO License application forms? Where is my license?

If you have waited 10 working days and still not received your PCO License application forms or if you sent your completed forms off months ago and want to keep track and know how your License application is proceeding then please contact Transport for London using the details below:

Telephone: 0343 222 4444 (08:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday except Bank Holidays)
Fax: 020 3054 3160
Email: TPH.Enquiries@tfl.gov.uk

If you opted for our Platinum Package, we take care of everything. Just give us a call on 020 8214 1055 and we’ll update you.

What happens if my PCO License application is refused?

If you have met all the PCO licensing requirements, and completed your application form correctly, you will hopefully soon be the recipient of your PCO license, but if this is not the case and your application is refused then you will be informed of this in writing by Transport for London (TfL) and the letter will include:

  • Confirmation that your license application has been refused.
  • The reason for the refusal.
  • Your right to appeal the decision which includes what you need to do to appeal and the time in which you have to do it.

You may simply have filled in your application form incorrectly but it could also be something more serious like something showing up on your DBS Check. Read through the reason(s) for the refusal and if you think you think this is the wrong decision then make sure you use your right of appeal, and make sure you do this as soon as possible.

All applicants coming though our doors will be fully advised prior to submitting their application if they are likely to get a PCO Licence or not. Speak To London’s Experts!

Refund of license application fees

If the refusal is upheld then you will only get a refund for the portion of your fee relating the to the ‘grant of license’ which is £100 of the total £250 as the application fee and the DBS fees are non-refundable.

Want to know more?

All the information you need to complete your PCO license application is on this website so please explore the rest of the site using the menu at the top of this page. Alternatively, pick up the phone and give us a call 020 3780 1055