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How to become an Uber Driver in London (2024)

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If you want to be a PCO driver, you are probably thinking how do you start working as an Uber driver.

The reason is that Uber is the biggest opportunity for any private hire driver in London – as it has millions of passengers in London. As an Uber driver, you will rapidly pick up plenty of PCO work.

Better still, Uber partners – this is what the firm calls its drivers – get extra benefits. These include an earnings guarantee, holiday pay and free insurance (e.g. sickness and personal injury cover).

Uber has rivals these days. Even so, it is the only ride hailing app that offers drivers face-to-face practical support to get a PCO licence. And the Uber driver app is so popular that you will probably only ever use rivals alongside it.

This post outlines the Uber driver requirement for new sign-ups. It also covers the basics of how to get a PCO licence and tips on how to choose an Uber approved car, with the correct vehicle insurance.

Sounds good? Let’s begin…

1. Check you are eligible

First, you need to be sure that you meet the basic Uber driver requirements:

  • UK driving licence (Uber insists you convert an EU or EEA licence to a UK one)
  • 21 years old minimum (3 years of UK or EU/EEA qualified driving experience)
  • No history of serious driving offences (Full list of deal-breakers here )
  • Suitable car and insurance (You can begin the Uber registration without this)
  • Private Hire Driver Licence (Most drivers call this a PCO licence)
  • Bank account in your name (Or a company you own)

2. Sign-up with Uber in London

The next step is to register your interest to become an Uber driver, either in this short form or inside the Uber driver app. You only need an email address and a smartphone do this.

You cannot actually begin Uber driving until you have all the correct paperwork but this gets things moving. After that, it’s time to book an Uber Ignition appointment at the Greenlight hub in Tower Hill, where the process is explained in more detail.

You may then upload basic personal docs (e.g. bank statements) into the Uber system or wait till later.

Did you know?

The Uber Ignition programme is a service that guides you through how to become an Uber driver. You can even get free training sessions to help prepare for the TfL tests (see below).

3. Apply for a Private Hire Driver Licence

The most important document you need to become an Uber driver is a PCO licence, issued by the council where you will work. In London, this is handled by TfL (Transport for London).

Technically, the document is called a Private Hire Driver Licence (i.e it’s for the person, not the car) but most drivers call it a PCO licence. That’s because it was provided by the old Public Carriage Office before TfL took over. Either way, this licence is one of the minimum requirements of the job.

If you already have a PCO licence, you can move onto step five of this article.

New private hire drivers should know that this stage of the Uber application process can take months. Otto Car has a guide how to apply for a PCO licence here. To save you time, there is a summary below.

Did you know?

You do not need a private hire licence simply to be an Uber Eats driver or a delivery driver in London.

4. How to get a PCO licence

It’s time to explain what it takes to apply for a Private Hire Driver Licence (ie PCO licence). The easy way to think about this is to say the process is split into two main sections – the checks and the tests.

The checks

  • Medical check (This is a form usually completed by your own doctor)
  • Background check (You must subscribe to the DBS Update Service)*
  • Right to work check (UK/Irish citizens can use basic ID docs. Details here)**
  • Register with HMRC to pay self assessment UK tax ***

*The disclosure barring service (DBS) is a criminal record check to protect passenger safety.
** Other nationalities can easily apply for a share-code or use immigration documents.
*** New drivers must only confirm they understand this. Renewals need a tax-check code.

Did you know?

Since February 2024, all private hire drivers must pay an annual subscription to the DBS Update Service for continuous registration.

The tests

The SERU test is actually the second half of the TfL English Language Requirement (ELR) alongside the speaking and listening test.

To get things started, you must enter a few basic personal details to create an online account with TfL and it will send you the complete application pack.

The checks are generally completed before you submit a full Private Hire Driver Licence application to TfL whereas the tests are done later. Most PCO drivers take all three tests in one day at the TfL offices.

Did you know?

From 1 April 2023, new Uber drivers must pass all of these TfL tests before they get a PCO licence. For existing Uber drivers who never completed them, there is still wiggle room – details here.

How much does it cost to get a PCO licence?

TfL says the full cost to apply for a Private Hire Driver Licence is £477, plus the price of a medical check. Various private agencies now offer to help new PCO drivers with a licence application but it’s wiser to stick to official channels (e.g. Uber Ignition) to avoid these extra costs.

4. Start onboarding with Uber

Once you have a PCO licence, you can upload any outstanding personal docs into the Uber app at the Greenlight hub. Before you do so, Uber will ask you to complete some basic online training.

Here is a checklist of the personal documents you need:

  • Proof of identity (e.g. passport)
  • UK Driving Licence (Original plastic card)
  • DVLA Electronic Counterpart Check Code (Get yours here )
  • Private Hire Driver Licence (i.e. PCO Licence)
  • Profile photo (Taken by the Uber team at Greenlight Hub)
  • Bank statement (No older than three months)

It usually takes a week or so for your personal details to appear in the Uber app as a new driver. You should wait for this to happen before you start to pay for a PCO car and rideshare insurance.

5. Choose an Uber-approved car

By now, you are probably wondering what kind of car do you need to become an Uber driver?

There are strict rules on which cars can use the Uber driver app. Some vehicle requirements are decided by Uber itself (e.g. no commercial branding) but most are set by the local licensing authority. That’s because you need a Private Hire Vehicle licence or PHV licence (i.e. for the car, not the driver).

In London, TfL insists all private hire vehicles (i.e. PHVs) must be Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) and meet the Euro 6 emissions standard when licensed for the first time.

Put simply, a PCO car in London must either be fully electric or a plug-in hybrid with a certificate of conformity. Full TfL guidelines here.

For cars which previously had a PHV licence, things are different. These only need to meet the rules that applied when they were first licensed, so long as the car is less than ten years old and the last licence did not expire more than two years ago. An older PCO car is a tempting idea but it’s risky.

The easy way to satisfy both Uber and TfL is to get an electric vehicle (EV). There’s never been a better time to do this because Uber has special incentives to switch (see below) and tariffs purely for EV drivers, such as Uber Green. You also won’t pay the London Congestion Charge until the end of 2025.

At this point, it’s wise to get some expert advice – and Otto Car is London’s largest community of private-hire drivers. We offer easy access to excellent PCO cars with no credit checks and all the support you need. Since 2015, we’ve kickstarted the careers of more than 20,000 new Uber drivers.

Did you know?

The new Uber PowerUp Package can help eligible drivers save at least £5,000 on the cost of an electric PCO car with their topped up EV Assistance.

6. Arrange private hire licensing and insurance

If you want to find your own PCO car, you will need rideshare insurance to get a PHV licence from TfL.

As with all car insurance, there are various levels of cover (eg third party or fully comp) but the policy must include ‘hire and reward’. For a new Uber driver in London it can easily cost £3,500 per year.

Getting a PHV licence is more complex than paying online. You must have the car physically checked by TfL at a licensing centre every 12 months. It also needs two MOT tests per year (unless it is new).

Be ready to supply evidence about any vehicle modifications etc as it’s easy to fail a TfL vehicle inspection due to, say, a poorly fitted dashcam. Full details on the PHV licensing process here.

If this sounds like hassle (hint: it is) the good news is that Otto Car can take away all the pain. Nearly all of our London drivers get PCO insurance included, as well as PHV licensing, servicing and MOTs. We even have our own drive-through licensing centre in Hammersmith, run by ex-TfL experts.

So when you think about what is the best car for Uber driving, consider what your own time is worth.

Did you know?

Every vehicle that Otto provides comes with our free smart dashcams to protect your income and keep you safe on the road. And yes, these are fully TfL approved.

7. Upload your car documents

The final stage to open an Uber driver account is to share the vehicle documents with this operator. Here is a checklist of the vehicle documents you need:

  • Private Hire Vehicle Licence (PHVL)
  • Logbook V5C (or AFRL certificate)
  • MOT (Must be issued in last 6 months but not needed for new cars)
  • Private Hire Insurance certificate
  • Hire Agreement or Permission letter (Otto Car will provide this)

If you source your own PCO car, you can do this upload with Uber yourself whenever you supply the personal documents (see step 4).

Did you know?

Otto Car drivers get full support to upload vehicle documents to Uber at any of our hubs. And if there are unexpected admin glitches, our team knows how to resolve things quickly.

8. Activate your Uber account

Within a few hours of these final car documents being approved, your driver status within the Uber app will change from ‘signed-up’ to ‘active’ – and you will officially become an Uber Partner. This is the moment when you can begin to earn extra money with Uber as a PCO driver.

The Uber driver app is simple to use. Once you have this on a smartphone, you simply swipe ‘yes’ to accept jobs and then take the Uber riders to their chosen destinations. It’s time to hit the road.

Taking the next step

Getting started as an Uber driver can feel complex but you are not alone. With Otto, you get more than just a car, we provide all you need to succeed as an Uber driver. Always honest advice and a fair price.

Whether you prefer a flexible PCO Car Hire rental or a fully inclusive ownership plan, we’ve got you.

Pop into any of our five London hubs for a friendly chat or say hello on 020 8740 7444.

Be part of something big. Join the family.

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