English language requirement

It is essential for public safety that all licensed private hire drivers are able to communicate in English at an appropriate level.

In October 2016, Transport for London (TfL) introduced an English language requirement (ELR) that applicants for a London PHV driver's licence can speak, listen, read and write English at an appropriate level. 

The appropriate level, which is equivalent to level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for reading, writing, speaking and listening, remains the same as before and applicants or licensees are still only required to satisfy the ELR once. 

On 1 October 2021 TfL introduced changes to how applicants can satisfy the ELR.  They are now required to undertake and pass two separate assessments: a speaking and listening assessment and the Safety, Equality and Regulatory Understanding (SERU) assessment which is used to determine their reading and writing skills.

It is no longer possible to satisfy the ELR by providing documentary evidence of a qualification or by providing a certificate from one of TfL's appointed Secure English Language Test (SELT) providers. 

The ELR delivers against the Department for Transport's recommendation for licensing authorities to consider applicants' English language skills which was included in its Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards published on 21 July 2020.

More information on these new assessments is provided below:

Speaking and listening assessment  

The speaking and listening assessment consists of a 15-20 minute conversation that will take place at TfL offices.

The assessment will be undertaken by a secure video or telephone link to our service provider, PeopleCert, and it will cost £36 when taken for the first time and £16 for a re-sit. 

Please see PeopleCert's website for more information about the test and what to expect on the day. All applicants are advised to review this information prior to sitting the test. 

Reading and writing assessment 

TfL will use the SERU assessment to assess applicants' reading and writing skills.  The SERU assessment is based on information found in the PHV Driver's Handbook which is intended to ensure applicants have the appropriate understanding of safety, equality and regulatory requirements that apply to London PHV drivers. 
The assessment will take place at TfL offices and it will cost £36 when taken for the first time and £16 for a re-sit. 

For more information on the SERU requirement and our online assessment guide, please visit: tfl.gov.uk/tph-seru
 

  • PHV Driver Handbook Version 1.0

    PDF 1.50MB

  • Applicants and London PHV drivers who applied before 1 October 2021

    No further action is required by any applicant or London PHV driver who applied for a London PHV driver's licence before 1 October 2021 and has already satisfied the ELR. 

    However, any applicant or London PHV driver who applied for a London PHV driver's licence before 1 October 2021 and either: 
    -    didn't provide any documentary evidence of a qualification or a SELT certificate as required; or 
    -    who did submit documentary evidence of a qualification but it did not satisfy TfL of their English language skills 

    will now be required to undertake and pass the new English speaking and listening assessment and the SERU assessment.

    Applicants and London PHV drivers who provided no documentary evidence of a qualification or SELT certificate by 30 September 2021 are required to undertake and pass both the SERU and speaking and listening assessments by 30 September 2022.

    Applicants and London PHV drivers who submitted documentary evidence of a qualification which has not been accepted by TfL are required to undertake and pass both the English speaking and listening assessment and the SERU assessment by 31 March 2023.

    We will be writing to London PHV drivers and applicants to provide the details of the assessments we require them to undertake and pass in order to satisfy the ELR and the timescales for doing so.

    If you have submitted evidence to us, then you do not need to contact us at this time, our licensing team will contact you to let you know the next steps. 

    Reasonable adjustments

    TfL can provide a range of reasonable adjustments that are tailored to the individual to ensure that assessments are carried out in a fair and consistent manner.

    If you have a disability or condition which means you will need adjustments to be made at your assessment then you will be invited to provide us with a brief outline of the condition and documented evidence from a relevant professional.
     

    Support Services 

    There are lots of free resources and courses available online to help people improve their English skills and you may want to make use of these before taking the assessment. 

    Some colleges offer English courses for people on a low income, or who are in receipt of benefits such as Job Seeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. 

    Some councils also offer free English courses or advice on courses and support available. Check on the National Careers Service website or call 0800 100 900 for classes in your area. There are also a number of free online resources, including Skillswise by the BBC.

    If you are disabled you may be entitled to support or a grant to help with the cost of the assessments or obtaining medical information through the Access to Work programme. 
     

     

    Exemption guidance 

    Our exemption guidance document contains information on exemptions for the English Language Requirement. 

    If you feel you have a disability or a condition which exempts you from taking the assessment, please see our exemption guidance for more information.