PCO car subscription is a term that you’ll hear used extensively if you’re looking for a flexible way to earn an income with Uber or other on-demand driving apps. But what do you really need to know? What are the pros and cons? How can you get started?

With the web full of information from different sources, often one contradicting the other, it’s easy to get frustrated. Don’t worry, you’re in safe hands. At Splend, we’re PCO car experts. We’ll help you manage the business side of things so you can focus on earning.

Take a look at our guide designed to answer all your questions related to PCO car subcription.


1. The basics of private hire driving

2. You need a car

3. How to get a PCO licence

4. Renewing your PCO licence

1. The basics of private hire driving

What is a PCO licence?

PCO stands for the Public Carriage Office, which is a department of Transport for London (TfL).

Having a PCO licence is one of the essential Uber driver requirements in the UK, as well as a mandatory document to drive for any rideshare platform.

Important: its official name is Private Hire Driver Licence, but most people simply call it a PCO licence. Don’t let this confuse you.

What does PCO car mean?

PCO cars are Uber-ready four-door cars and minivans. In other words, they meet all TfL requirements for personal transport, and have a valid Private Hire Vehicle Licence (PHV licence).

The PHV licence is the same as the PCO licence, but for your car—it’s proof that TfL has approved the car for private hire use.

Do I need PCO for Uber?

Yes, all rideshare drivers in London must have a valid PCO licence, regardless of the ridesharing platform.

Who can apply for a PCO licence?

Anyone who has a valid UK driver’s licence with at least three years of driving experience and the right to work in the UK can apply for a PCO licence. You’ll also need other documents to apply, but you can acquire these in a relatively short time.

What does a PCO licence look like?

Your PCO licence is a plastic card the size of a standard credit card and includes its serial number and expiry date, as well as your basic personal information and your photo.

PCO licence | Splend

How long is a PCO licence valid?

Your PCO licence is valid for three years. Here’s how you can renew it.

2. You need a car

What are the requirements for a PCO car in 2023 in the UK?

To get a PHV licence, your car must meet the following criteria:

  • Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) and meeting the Euro 6 emission standards
  • Four independently opening doors
  • Good condition with no cosmetic damage
  • No commercial branding

How old can a car be for PCO driving?

To get your PHV licence, the car can’t be older than 10 years. However, there are rideshare platforms requiring newer cars than 10 years to drive on their platforms or for specific services they have.

Which car is eligible for PCO licence?

Any car meeting all the eligibility criteria, emission standards, car age, seating and condition is eligible to get a PCO licence.

You don’t need to be the owner of the car you use for PCO driving. As long as it has a valid PHV licence and PHV insurance, you’re good to go. You can check which are the best Uber cars to make sure you pick the right one for your needs.

Check our available PCO cars for sale and choose the perfect one for you.

What is PCO car subscription?

Keeping your car within parameters and the paperwork up to date is a lot of admin work. It demands time and attention that you’d certainly rather focus on what you do best — driving.

PCO car subscription is a solution that gives you the peace of mind that you and your car are always ready to work.

Your car is part of a PCO fleet, with an entire team dedicated to keeping things up to spec, so you can keep your eyes on the road and your mind set on success.

The pros & cons of PCO car subscription

Most people think on-demand drivers use their own cars for Uber and other rideshare apps. While this is indeed possible, many drivers subscribe to drive their private hire cars. Let’s see the pros and cons of PCO car subscription.


  • Minimum commitment – You can change your mind and hand back the car on more favourable terms
  • All-inclusive – You have the PHV licence, insurance, and most of the routine maintenance, so you can focus on driving.


  • You don’t own the car – Although you can opt for the Splend Flexi own plan and have the same benefits while putting your weekly subscription payments toward ownership
  • Limited range of car models and colours
  • The age of the car can vary depending on the car provider.

3. How to get a PCO licence

What are the requirements for a PCO licence?

You must meet these requirements to apply for a PCO licence:

  • 21 years or older
  • Have a full DVLA driving licence that’s at least three years old
  • Have the right to live and work in the UK

You’ll also need to acquire these documents:

  • DBS ‘enhanced’ criminal records check
  • Proof from your GP that you’re medically fit
  • Right to work check
  • Your unique tax check code
  • Safeguarding awareness training course
  • Topographical test from an accredited assessment centre
  • TfL English test

How do I apply for a PCO licence?

Once you have all the documents listed above, you can submit your PCO licence application to TfL. Register here, sign in, and follow the instructions.

Do I need an English test for a PCO licence?

Yes, TfL needs you to prove your English Language skills by taking the TfL English test. This test consists of two parts, Speaking and listening and Reading and writing and evaluates your general English skills.

Do I need a Topographical test for a PCO licence?

Yes. Another mandatory request for your PCO licence application is passing a Topographical (map-reading) test. This is a test to ensure drivers have the necessary understanding of how maps work, and can use a map to navigate between fares. If you’re concerned about passing this test, there are plenty of agencies and online materials offering topographical test training.

How much does it cost to get a PCO licence?

A PCO application costs around £500 in total, but bear in mind that this may vary by quite a lot depending on your particular situation. You’ll obviously have less to pay if you already have some of the necessary documents, however, if you need courses to prepare for your assessments or fail an exam, you may need to reach deeper into your pocket.

The table below should give you an idea of how much your PCO licence will cost you at the end of the day.

PCO licence application costs
Licence application fee (non-refundable) £124
Grant of licence fee £186
Medical ~£80 (or set by your GP)
DBS check £52 (online) / £54 (paper)
Topographical assessment £36 / £16 each retake
SERU assessment £36
Speaking and listening assessment £36
*Post Office ‘Check and Send’ transfers £7.15 (unless paid via credit/debit card)

How long does it take to get my PCO licence?

Start pulling the documents together as soon as possible, because it generally takes 12 to 16 weeks to fully process a PCO licence application.

4. Renewing your PCO licence

How long does it take to renew my PCO licence?

It does take a few weeks until TfL processes your renewal application. It’s best to think ahead and start the process at least one month before your PCO licence expires.

How do I renew my PCO licence?

This takes time, and TfL knows it. That’s why they send you an application pack four months before your PCO licence expires. Once you have your application pack, you can start collecting the necessary paperwork.

You should already have a TfL account, but if you don’t, head to tfl.gov.uk and register. Once signed in, you can apply for licence renewal as an “existing licence holder” using your driver’s licence as your ID.

Can I renew my PCO licence offline?

You can also sign up the old-fashioned way, by completing the application pack and sending it back to TfL. In this case, check the form and change incorrect details, provide your DVLA Share Code and an email address for updates, and sign the declaration before posting the completed pack.

What do I do with my expired PCO licence?

You should return your PCO licence to TfL within seven days of its expiry date.

About Splend

We enable people to make money by driving. Our vision is a future where every on-demand driver can be successful.

We are PCO car specialists. Don’t take our word for it—drivers rate us excellent on Trustpilot. We can set you up with a brand-new or new-model car on our Flexi own plan, plus we provide the training and support you need to become an Uber driver that’s more profitable, safer, and fulfilled.

Drop by our London Hub at 393 Edgware Road Cricklewood, London, email us, or say hello on 0333 016 4331