30 November 2023

What is the difference between PHV and PCO?

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If you’re thinking of working as a professional driver in the UK, there are a number of steps you need to take before you can work in the industry. 

These include applying for a license from your local council.

One of the most common questions asked by chauffeurs is the difference between a PHV and a PCO. Both are licenses to drive vehicles with other people on board, but there are differences in the car you can use. 

Let’s take a look at what these licenses are for and how to get them.

What is the PHV license?

A PHV license is required to drive a taxi or private hire vehicle with a driver in the UK. 

To get this license you have to apply to the relevant authority, usually your local council if you want to work outside London, or Transport for London (TfL) if you want to work within London.

What are the requirements to access the PHV?

As we’ve explained in this guide, you need to meet a number of specific requirements to access the PHV. These include

  • Be 18 years of age or 21 years of age in some areas (including London)
  • Be eligible for employment in the UK
  • Hold a full DVLA, Northern Ireland or EU licence for 12 months
  • Have an address and national insurance number
  • Are a “fit and proper person”, meaning your background and character are checked by the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

What is a PCO license?

PCO is the abbreviation for Public Carriage Office, the London transport authority. 

It is the authorization that allows drivers to accompany people in a vehicle for payment.

PCO licenses are valid for three years and can be renewed at the end of this period.  To obtain a PCO license in London, you must apply to TfL. If you meet all the requirements, the document will be issued within 12-16 weeks.

What are the PCO requirements?

Again, to obtain a PCO license, you must prove that you meet certain requirements, including

  • Over 21 years of age 
  • A full DVLA license that is at least three years old
  • The right to live and work in the UK

Again, your criminal record, health, topographical knowledge and English language test will be checked.

What is the difference between PHV and PCO?

The main difference between PHV and PCO is in the cars you can drive. 

A PCO license allows you to carry passengers against payment.  The PHV (Private Hire Vehicle) license does a similar thing, but allows you to use your own car. 

Of course, each car will have to meet specific requirements in order to be suitable for passenger transport and will have to pass an inspection by the PCO licensing authority.

What license do you need to work as a chauffeur?

If you want to work as a chauffeur, you need both a PCO and PHV license. Holding these documents gives you the legal right to carry passengers for hire and to work as a private chauffeur, if you meet all the other requirements.

Join LiMO

If you would like to increase your career opportunities, you can join LiMO, the biggest community of professional drivers in the world. By joining LiMO with your fleet, you will have access to all the benefits we can offer you, from driver training to software for better management of your job.

If you are a driver, you can apply for a job with LiMO and start your chauffeur adventure in the UK. Contact us now to find out more.

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