PCO stands for the Public Carriage Office, which is a department of Transport for London (TfL). A PCO licence is an essential document for rideshare drivers to become an Uber driver and similar platforms such as Bolt, Ola, or FREE NOW. It’s basically a licence for you, as a driver.
Its official name is Private Hire Driver Licence (PCO licence), but most people simply call it a PCO licence. Don’t let this confuse you.
We’ve outlined 6+1 steps below to help you obtain your PCO Licence in London.
Table of contents
To be eligible for a PCO licence, you need to meet the following requirements:
If you meet these criteria, you need to have the following documents ready and valid:
TfL states that in order to apply for a PCO licence, you must be of good character, so they require you to take an enhanced criminal records check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
DBS checks are only valid for three months, but you can save time and money in the long run if you sign up to the DBS update service. This lets you keep your DBS certificate up to date while allowing employers to access it online, with your consent. This only costs £13 – significantly cheaper than the ~£60 fee you’d otherwise have to pay for every new background check.
TIP: You can save time and money if you sign up to the DBS update service. This lets you keep your DBS certificate up to date while allowing employers to access it online, with your consent. This only costs £13, significantly cheaper than the ~£60 fee you’d otherwise have to pay for every new disclosure.
You must be medically fit in order to get a PCO licence, meaning you must pass the Group 2 standards of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA).
You’ll need to print and complete the TPH/204 medical form. Visit your General Practitioner, so they can sign the form and confirm that the information you provided is correct.
TIP: Make sure your local GP offers eye tests, otherwise you’ll need to complete it separately.
In order to be an Uber driver in London, TfL requires a good level of English language. If you already have language qualifications, you can submit them directly to TfL. If not, you need to take the TfL English test.
Once you’ve completed the background check, got the medical examination, and have proof of your English language skills, you’re ready to submit your PCO licence application online.
Register at https://tph.tfl.gov.uk/, sign in and follow the instructions.
IMPORTANT: Once the application is started, you’ll be unable to press a “Go Back” option, so it’s crucial to take the time to read and select the right answers during each step of the process.
Once you’ve submitted your Private Hire Driver licence or PCO application, you will be invited to take a topographical (map-reading) test with TfL.
If you’ve completed all the steps above, you’re ready to start earning an income with on-demand platforms. It’s up to you which one you choose, but we suggest signing up to several ridesharing and delivery apps to make the best use of your working hours and maximise your income.
Depending on your situation, the cost is around £700 in total. You may spend more if, for example, you need courses to prepare for examinations or if you fail an exam.
The table below gives you an idea about how much getting your PCO licence will cost you:
|Licence application fee (non-refundable)||£124|
|Grant of licence fee||£186|
|DBS check||£56.85 (online) / £58.85 (paper)|
|Topographical assessment||~£40 (assessment only) / ~£75 (with training)|
|English language assessment||~£180 – £200|
|Foreign licence conversion||£43|
|*Post Office ‘Check and Send’ transfers||£7.15 (unless paid via credit/debit card)|
It generally takes between 12-16 weeks for your PCO application to be fully processed. It’s always a good idea to start gathering your documents as early as possible.
Your PCO licence is valid for 3 years. You should receive a PCO licence renewal pack in the post about four months before it expires, but it’s always a good idea to set a reminder to contact TfL. Especially because the PCO renewal process can take up to 8 weeks.
Keep in mind that when you apply to reapply for a PCO licence, you’ll also have to renew your criminal record.
If this happens, Tfl will notify you via email. The notification should include a confirmation that your application has been refused, the reason(s) for the refusal, as well as your right to appeal the decision – including what you need to do and by when. You can normally appeal the decision in 21 days.
We’re PCO car specialists enabling on-demand drivers to make money by driving. Our vision is a future where every on-demand driver can be successful.
We can set you up with a brand-new or new-model car, and provide the training and support you need to become a more profitable, safer, and fulfilled driver. Don’t take our word for it — Uber drivers rate us excellent on Trustpilot.