Webbed; Driving Black

By Jo Phillips

How to Become a Black Cab Driver in London

London’s iconic black cabs are recognised around the world as a defining feature of the UK’s capital city and a timeless symbol of Britishness. In a world of Uber and Lyft, where London’s ever-rising population makes driving or riding in a car an unattractive prospect for many, is there still room for the old-fashioned black cab?

Absolutely! Not only are tourists keen to be driven around the capital in one of these iconic vehicles, but there is also a steady stream of people who want to take ‘the knowledge’ so that they can make a living driving a London black cab.

You may have heard of the knowledge before, it is a term that anyone wanting to drive a black cab will need to familiarise themselves with, which is just one component that you need in order to work as a black cab driver.

Below is a checklist of all the essentials that you need in place before you can work as a black cab driver in London. Make sure that you are ready and able to meet all of these requirements before you get your heart set on the life of a cabby in London.

You Must be 21 Years Old

In the UK you can start driving long before you’re 21. In fact, you can apply for your taxi licence when you’re just 18. However, you cannot receive your licence until you reach the age of 21.

Unfortunately, there’s no wiggle room on this one, if you aren’t 21 yet then you’re going to have to wait.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the time to get everything else in order so that you are ready to go as soon as your licence is granted.

Must Be Eligible to Live and Work in the UK

Naturally, if you want to get a job then you will need to be legally able to do so. If you’re from the UK or Ireland you’re already covered, since citizens from the UK and Ireland are able to freely travel between their countries as per a number of international agreements.

However, if you are coming from another EU nation, things should still be simple but Brexit throws all this up in the air.

If you are planning on continuing to live in the UK in the long term and will apply for residency this isn’t so much of an issue. However, if you’re relying on the continued right to work being granted by UK-EU treaties, there are no guarantees beyond October (perhaps sooner).

Must Have a Full UK Driving Licence

This one is simple enough – if you are going to be driving for a living, then you need to be properly licenced to drive on the UK’s roads.

You won’t be able to obtain a taxi licence without presenting your driving licence and, although we shouldn’t really have to tell you this, operating as a taxi driver without either licence is a very bad idea.

Pass the ‘Knowledge’

This is the biggest hurdle to becoming a black cab driver. Forget about all the other steps involved – that’s all just paperwork and a small financial investment.

It’s here, with the knowledge test, that things start to get tricky. The knowledge is why London’s black cab drivers are so revered and iconic; the knowledge requires them to have a comprehensive knowledge of London’s roads and traffic systems.

Studies have shown that London’s black cab drivers develop a part of their brain, the hippocampus, much more than the rest of us. This is the part of our brains that is linked to memory, and so it is believed that black cab drivers develop the ability to hold a much more complex mental image of the world around them than the rest of us.

Passing the knowledge is notoriously difficult, but it’s worth it for a bigger brain!

Getting Your Cab Insured

You will need to get your black cab insured before you can drive it on the roads. You’ll need a taxi insurance policy, a special type of car insurance that covers minicabs, black cabs and people carriers to transport people and their belongings.

The cost of taxi insurance can vary depending on a number of factors, but using a website like quotezone.co.uk makes it much easier to find the best available deal for your vehicle. By filling in a simple form on their website you can access a range of insurance quotes that suit your needs.


In addition to the above, you will also need to be in reasonably good physical health and not have had any serious criminal convictions. You might not expect to need particularly good health in order to be a cab driver but, remember, when you are carrying passengers, you are responsible for their safety.

Working as a black cab driver in London is a viable career option for anyone who loves the idea of driving passengers around London. If you have experience working as a taxi driver then that will definitely help. However, be prepared for the challenge of the knowledge and make sure you have all your paperwork in order.

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