In ridesharing, you’re your own boss – but where do you begin?
Guest post by Balazs Szekely
Whether you’re looking for a full-time job or just want to make better use of your spare time, driving Uber in London is a fantastic way to keep yourself busy and earn a flexible income. And all you need to own is a smartphone or tablet – you don’t even need to have a car (more on this further below).
The work itself is indeed very straightforward. The sign-up process, however, is a bit of a head-scratcher, and the inconsistent or sometimes downright incorrect information circling the web can get very confusing. With a little help from the folks at Splend, we hope to clear away the fog with this post.
Here’s how to get started
To be an Uber driver in London, you must first meet a number of basic criteria and get some paperwork ready. You need to be at least 21 years old with at least three years of driving experience. You will also need to create a driver profile and get hold of the following documents:
- UK driver’s licence (EU/foreign licences must be converted)
- Private Hire Driver Licence (a.k.a. PCO licence)
This last one is where it gets complicated, but Uber’s free Ignition information programme is designed to make the process as streamlined as possible.
Step by step guide to applying for a PCO licence
- Schedule a session at the Uber Ignition Centre
To schedule an Ignition session online, you first have to prepare these documents and make sure none of them is expired:
- UK driver’s licence (with at least 3 years of driving experience)
- National insurance number
- Proof of address (bank statement/utility bill from within the last 3 months)
- Your debit or credit card
- TfL-approved English language qualification (you have until September 2020 to obtain yours if you don’t have one yet)
- DVLA Check Code (a.k.a. Electronic Counterpart Code)
- Additional documents, in case you have changed your name or lived abroad over the last 3 years
After scheduling your appointment, you will have to bring these documents to Uber’s London Ignition Centre at Beaufort House, Ground Floor, 15 St Botolph St, London EC3A 7DT.
- Pay a visit to your doctor
Spare some time to visit your GP and complete the TPH/204 Private Hire Medical Form. If your doctor isn’t qualified to do your eye examination, you’ll need to do it separately.
- Complete Enhanced DBS check
This will take place upon your scheduled visit to the Ignition Centre. The only thing to remember is to have all the above-listed documents with you, the Uber crew will assist you with the rest.
- Submit the private hire application
All done? It’s time to submit your Private Hire Application by registering at https://tph.tfl.gov.uk/. Sign in and follow the instructions.
An important thing to keep in mind: once you start the application, there’s no “go back” button, so check everything twice before you move forward. If you have any uncertainties, it’s probably best to complete this step at the Ignition Centre too.
- Topographical assessment
After submitting your application, you’ll have to take a topographical (map-reading) test with Transport for London. Uber offers a free online course to make sure you’re prepared – it may be a good idea to check it out when you have some spare time.
What else is needed?
Your PCO licence proves that you have what it takes to be a rideshare driver – in a similar way, you must also have proof from TfL that your car is up to the required standards for passenger transport. For this, you’ll need what’s called a Private Hire Vehicle licence.
However, this only goes if you are a car owner and you want to use your vehicle to drive Uber, which brings us back to something we said earlier:
You don’t need to own a car!
It’s a common misconception that Uber is for car owners, and car owners only. While you certainly can use your personal vehicle for ridesharing, and many drivers do, it’s actually cheaper, much simpler to rent one. The thing is, Uber has quite strict vehicle requirements, and even if your car is up to the standards, the paperwork can be quite costly and time-consuming. With a rental, you just jump behind the wheel and go.
If you would like to find out more about the process, as well as the cost of obtaining your PCO and PHV licences, have a look at Splend’s detailed guide on how to become an Uber driver.