Public Hire Vs Private Hire – Which is The Best Option for New Taxi Drivers

There are two types of taxis you’ll find on the roads – public hire taxis and private hire taxis.

Public hire taxis are those that display a ‘taxi’ sign on the vehicle and can pick up fares from the street i.e. black cabs. Private hire taxis must be pre-booked in advance by phone or app, such as Uber taxis.

But which is the best option if you’re thinking of becoming a taxi driver?

To help you make the right decision, below is a comparison of public and private hire taxis in key areas.

Finding work

In terms of finding work, it’s slightly different with public hire and private hire taxis. If you drive a private hire taxi then you have the option to work for a number of different private hire firms as well as Uber.

If you get a public hire licence then you’ll typically work for your local council since that’s who you’re licenced through. In either case, finding work shouldn’t prove to difficult once you’ve obtained the correct licence.

Getting a licence

To work as either a public hire or private hire taxi driver you’ll need to have the correct taxi driver’s licence. The requirements for obtaining a licence will vary depending on the city that you want to work in.

Generally to be eligible for either a public hire or private hire licence you’ll need to meet the following criteria –

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a full UK driver’s licence
  • Be eligible to work in the UK

There is nearly always some kind of competence test involved too. For example if you want to obtain a public hire taxi driver’s licence in London then you’ll need to pass the famous Knowledge test. The Knowledge requires you to have an extremely in-depth knowledge of all the streets and landmarks throughout the capital.

Getting insurance

In order to work as a taxi driver you’ll need to get your own insurance. Typically private hire insurance is cheaper than public hire since the risks are fewer. This of course depends on other factors though, such as the value of the vehicle that’s being insured and the level of cover being taken out.

There are many sites now where you can easily get quotes for both public and private hire insurance, Multiquote Taxi being one such site.


Last but not least is safety. Driving a taxi can be quite a hazardous job. Although the majority of taxi passengers don’t cause any problems, there is always the potential to deal with difficult fares, whether it’s because a person is drunk/on drugs, aggressive or refuses to pay their fare.

Typically public hire drivers are at more risk since anybody can potentially enter one off the street. This isn’t to say that private hire taxi drivers don’t face danger too though because they do.

A good way to make your taxi more safe is to install CCTV inside the cabin.

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