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.  On 21 July 2020, the DfT published its Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards which recommended that all licensing authorities should consider whether an applicant for a licence is able to communicate in English orally and in writing with customers. The standards are intended to protect children and vulnerable adults and by extension the wider public. 

In October 2016, Transport for London (TfL) introduced a regulatory requirement that all applicants for a London private hire driver's licence must be able to demonstrate that they can speak, listen, read and write in English at an appropriate level. This is known as the English Language Requirement (ELR).  

Previously, applicants for a London private hire driver's licence (including a renewal) who applied on or after 14 October 2016 had until 30 September 2021 to satisfy TfL that they comply with the ELR.

New approach to assessing the ELR 

From 1 October 2021, the way in which we assess whether an existing private hire driver or a new private hire driver applicant satisfies the ELR has changed.

As of 1 October 2021, 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 providers.  

Instead, we will utilise two separate assessments: the outcome of the Safety, Equality and Regulatory Understanding (SERU) assessment will be used to determine an applicant's ability to read and write in English to an appropriate level and a new speaking and listening assessment has been introduced.

Both assessments will need to be passed in order for an applicant to demonstrate that they can communicate in 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.

All existing private hire drivers and all new private hire driver applicants who applied before 30 September 2021 and did not provide satisfactory evidence will now be required to demonstrate compliance with the ELR by passing the new assessments.

More information on these new assessments is provided below:

Speaking and listening assessment  

On 1 October 2021 a new speaking and listening assessment was introduced. The assessment consists of a 15-20 minute conversation that will take place at TfL's offices.

The assessment will be undertaken by a secure video or telephone link within TfL premises to our service provider, PeopleCert, a global leader in the assessment and certification of professional skills. 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. 

The speaking and listening test will cost £36. Re-sits will cost £16.

Assessment of reading and writing skills 

From 1 October 2021, TfL will use the SERU assessment to determine whether PHV driver applicants and existing drivers are able to read and write in English to the appropriate standard.

Questions in the SERU assessment will be based on the contents of the PHV Driver Handbook and ensure that drivers have an appropriate understanding of safety, equality and the regulatory requirements that apply to them. 

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

  • PHV Driver Handbook Version 1.0

    PDF 1.50MB

  • Evidence provided to satisfy the ELR 

    Any private hire driver who provided documentary evidence, by 30 September 2021, to satisfy the ELR which is not accepted by TfL will be contacted and will be required to undertake and pass both the SERU assessment and speaking and listening assessment by no later than 31 March 2023.

    Any private hire driver who has provided no documentary evidence, by 30 September 2021, to satisfy the English Language Requirement will be contacted and will be required to undertake and pass both the SERU assessment and speaking and listening assessment by no later than 30 September 2022.

    Please note: any evidence submitted after 30 September 2021 will not be accepted, except for certificates in respect of Secure English Language Tests provided up to 28 October 2021, provided the test was taken on or before 30 September 2021.

    We will be writing to all existing PHV driver licensees and applicants to provide the details of the assessments we require them to undertake and pass 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. 

    Special requirements and reasonable adjustments

    TfL offer 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.