Taxi for Life?

The Handy Guide to Becoming a Professional Cab Driver.

You may have grown up wanting to be a footballer, fireman or aircraft pilot but, well, things don’t always work out that way. Perhaps the next best thing is finding a job that suits you.

For many thousands of people across the UK and Ireland, becoming a professional taxi driver offers regular employment, good banter and a considerable sense of freedom. There’s also opportunities to start your own business and build lasting relationships with regular customer and fellow drivers.

Our handy guide to being a cab driver provides an insight into what to expect, what’s involved and how to go about getting started. You can find out about the complex world of taxi licensing and which type of vehicles you can use as a cab in your area. There’s advice on how to go about insuring your cab and how to get finance to buy a new or used taxi and some thoughts on which is the best option for you. We also offer some useful contacts for more information.


What’s it Like?

Let’s get it straight – don’t let anybody tell you driving a taxi is the way to a guaranteed easy life. Like every line of business, cab driving has its challenges as well as its rewards. First and foremost, you’re dealing with people, all the time. If you’re a people person – and many of us are – then taxi driving can offer a fabulous outlet for your interests and personality. Taxi drivers are, rightly, famed for sharing their opinions,...

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The UK Taxi Trade

Join the cab trade and you’ll certainly not be alone. The taxi industry is a huge employer across the UK. In fact government statistics 1 are more than quarter of a million cabs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. That works around one cab for every 250 residents across the country. In many parts of the world a cab is a cab. Here in the UK, however, we have two distinct types of service – public hire ‘taxis’ and...

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Employment Options

There are various different ways of getting into the taxi trade. The easiest is to start working as an employee for a taxi company; the other end of the scale is owning your own vehicle or even starting your own company. Here are some of the main options: Apply for a job with a local taxi company. You may sometimes see firms advertising for drivers but don’t wait to see an advert – most companies have a turnover of drivers...

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Entry Requirements & Training

As you might imagine, one thing you will need is a driving license. This needs to be either a UK or EU license which is valid for at least the next 12 months. Whether or not it needs to be ‘clean’ may depend on your prospective employer or local licensing authority but nine points probably isn’t the best advert for your driving technique. Your local authority or taxi employer is also entitled to ask for an enhanced criminal record check...

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Taxi Vehicles

Many different types of vehicle are used as taxis. This is partly because of market choice but can also be a result of vehicle specifications required by local authorities. Most councils will accept most types of car as private hire vehicles, though there are usually some stipulations about engine size and seat width. Some borough and city councils have quite detailed specifications for hackney or public hire taxis. Known as ‘conditions of fitness’, these regulations often call for vehicles to...

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Taxi Licensing

Taxi and private hire matters certainly help keep most local licensing officials busy. ‘Licensing boards’, which also deal with pub, gambling and sex stores, among their other work, are in fact sub-committees of each local authority. With almost 300 of these local taxi licensing authorities across the UK there are almost as many different approaches to taxi licensing! Many of these differences are relatively minor while others – particularly conditions of fitness for vehicles (see section 6, above) have a...

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Taxi Insurance

When your vehicle covers 30 to 40,000 miles a year, or more you might expect insurance to be higher than for a family car doing perhaps a quarter of that at most. In fact, motor insurance for hire and reward is one of the biggest outlays both for taxi and private hire drivers. If you own or lease your own cab, you will need specialist commercial insurance. Fortunately there are many specialist taxi insurance packages available. Search online for ‘taxi...

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Taxi Finance

Compared with renting or working for someone else, owning your own cab offers you the best earning potential, with weekly car payments being substantially lower than paying someone else for the use of their vehicle. Unless your fairy godmother has left you a pile of cash, you’ll need to find the best way to fund the cost of your cab. Sometimes close friends and family will get together to help someone into business by clubbing together to meet the cost...

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Taxi Ranks & Radio Circuits

Right, you’ve got your taxi driver’s license, your new cab’s been inspected and ‘plated’, you’ve got the right taxi insurance and you’re raring to go. Now where does the business come from? If you have a hackney license – otherwise a public hire or simply taxi license – you can work the ranks and accept hires from customers who flag you down on the street. Rank business can vary hugely in different locations and at different times of day. A...

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Taxis for All

Taxis provide a uniquely flexible transport service. They are available any time of the day or night and take passengers direct from their desired pick-up point to any (reasonable!) destination. This personalised service can be handy for all of us and is also particularly important for many disabled people. More than ten million people in the UK have reported some form of disability. This includes around 1.2 million wheelchair users3. People living with a disability – particularly something which affects...

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Taxi Associations

When you’re starting out in something new, it’s always good to look for tips and pointers from people who’ve got more experience for you. This might just be from someone you already know in the taxi trade. Once you start, you’ll also get to meet other cabbies on the ranks or at your private hire booking office. Another useful point of contact could be a local cab trade association. There are literally hundreds of local taxi and private hire associations...

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More Information

In addition to other cab drivers you get to know and your local taxi association representatives, some useful sources for expert advice on taxi issues include: Cab Direct Advice on taxi models, taxi finance and local vehicle licensing specifications. Tel: Email: Web: Department for Transport Taxi and vehicle legislation, enquiries, research and reports. Web: Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency Regulations concerning driving licenses and penalties and vehicle licensing regulations. Web: National Private Hire Association Business advice...

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