6 September 2023

How to Get a PCO Licence in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide with LiMO

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Are you considering a career as a private hire driver in the UK? If so, obtaining a Private Hire Licence, also known as a PCO (Public Carriage Office) licence, is a crucial step. This article will guide you through the PCO licence application process, its cost, requirements, and duration. We’ll also introduce you to how LiMO, a complete management software for chauffeur drivers, can streamline your operations once you’re licensed.

What is a PCO Licence?

A PCO licence is necessary for anyone looking to work as a private hire driver in the UK. This licence, which covers the individual rather than the vehicle, is typically valid for three years. The requirements may vary slightly depending on where you apply. In London, for example, the application is handled by Transport for London (TfL), while outside London, PCO licences are issued by local councils.

Basic Requirements for a PCO Licence

To apply for a PCO licence, you must:

  • Hold a valid full UK driving licence, or one from an EU or EEA state.
  • Be at least 21 years old and have three years of experience as a qualified driver.
  • Possess the right to work in the UK, and register with HMRC to pay tax.
  • Demonstrate good character, with no history of serious driving offences.

The PCO Licence Application Process

The PCO licence application process is multifaceted, often involving several months to complete. It involves a series of checks and tests:

Medical Check

Applicants must meet the DVLA Group 2 health standard, a requirement usually meant for large goods vehicles or bus drivers. This check can be completed by your doctor or another health professional. The form for this check comes with your license application pack, and there will be a financial cost.

Background Check

To ensure that private hire drivers are of ‘good character’, a form approved by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to the Enhanced DBS standard is required. This check primarily reviews whether you have a criminal record that could potentially compromise public safety.

Right to Work Check

Applicants must confirm that they are allowed to work in the UK. This is typically a simple online check completed by TfL on the Government website, although additional documentation may be required for more complex cases.

Speaking and Listening Test

This 15-minute test evaluates the applicant’s verbal English proficiency. It takes place at TfL premises via a video or telephone link with a company called PeopleCert.

Safety, Equality and Regulatory Understanding (SERU)

This written assessment ensures drivers can read and write English to the required standard and understand safety issues and passenger rights. The test also covers road safety, protection of children or vulnerable adults, and UK equality laws.

Topographical Skills Test

The final test in the PCO licence application assesses drivers’ understanding of London geography and route planning. For example, applicants may be asked to identify the shortest route between two landmarks using a map. The cost of this assessment is £36 for the first time and £16 for a re-sit.

Obtaining your PCO licence is the first step towards a career as a private hire driver. You will also need a vehicle that meets the rules and can reliably perform the job.

Cost of a PCO Licence

As of May 2022, the average cost of a PCO licence application was approximately £600, plus the cost of your medical check. This total includes various fees such as DBS disclosure application, licence application fee, grant of licence fee, Post Office Check and Send, and fees for the speaking and listening, SERU, and topographical assessments.

After Getting a PCO Licence

Obtaining your PCO licence is the first step towards a career as a private hire driver. You will also need a vehicle that meets the rules and can reliably perform the job.

How LiMO Can Help

Once you have your PCO licence and vehicle, consider using LiMO to manage your operations. LiMO is a complete management software solution designed specifically for chauffeur drivers who are part of a licensed fleet. It can help you handle bookings, track payments, manage your schedule, and more, all from one easy-to-use platform.

By providing a comprehensive solution, LiMO can help you focus on delivering excellent service to your clients while simplifying the administrative side of your work. Whether you’re an independent chauffeur or running a larger operation, LiMO has the tools you need to succeed in your private hire business.


Becoming a private hire driver in the UK requires obtaining a PCO licence, which involves meeting certain requirements and passing various tests. The application process can take several months and costs approximately £600, plus the medical check fee. Once licensed, a reliable vehicle and efficient management tools, such as LiMO, can help you build a successful career. Good luck on your journey to becoming a private hire driver!

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