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Is it worth applying to your local council for a taxi licence if you have a criminal record?

As anybody with a criminal record knows, finding paid work can be difficult and so, for many, self-employment can be very attractive. If you enjoy driving, then becoming a taxi driver could be one option for you to consider.

You will need an operator’s licence which you can apply for through your local council or from Transport for London (TfL) if you want to work in the capital. You will also usually need:

  • To have held a full UK or EEA driving licence for at least 12 months (3 years in London)
  • An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check
  • To be over 18 (21 in some areas)
  • Pass a geographical test
  • Complete a driving skills assessment

For further information visit driving licences for taxi’s and private hire vehicles.

The need for an enhanced criminal record check will often deter people from applying for these types of licences with many individuals assuming they will automatically be refused. But, is this right?

A Freedom of Information request undertaken recently by a Welsh newspaper looked at the number of taxi licences applied for through Cardiff Council. The results showed that they had received over 1,000 applications between January 2012 and September 2016 with 176 of these listing some type of conviction which were considered by the Council’s Public Protection Sub-committee. Of these 176, over 50% of applications were granted a licence.

A spokesperson for the Council said:

Each application is determined on its own merits and consideration is given to the seriousness of the offence, the sentence imposed, whether there is a pattern of offending and any other facts that may be relevant’

Although the FOI report in this instance related to Cardiff Council, our experience from calls to our helpline has shown that significant numbers of people applying for taxi licences who have a criminal record are successful.

There are usually taxi and private hire driving opportunities in every part of the country. Some companies will expect you to own your own car but many will give you the opportunity to rent a car from them. The job allows you to work flexible hours and, with drivers in many towns earning approximately £20K per year for a 40 hour week – this may be just the job for you.

So, if you’re interested in getting a taxi licence, a DBS check shouldn’t be the thing that stops you from applying.

For more information

  1. For practical self-help information – More information is available on our criminal record checks for employment (including DBS) section and A-Z of job roles and their eligibility for basic, standard and enhanced criminal record checks
  2. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact theHelpline.



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Photo of Helpline lead, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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