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.

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

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.

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 8214 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