It is essential for public safety that all licensed private hire drivers are able to communicate in English at an appropriate level. Drivers need to be able to communicate with passengers to discuss a route or fare, as well as read, understand and respond to important regulatory, safety and travel information sent by TfL.

In 2016, Transport for London (TfL) made a number of regulatory changes to raise standards in London's private hire industry and improve safety and convenience for customers. 

Some of these regulatory changes, including the English language requirement, have been subject to a legal challenge. On 3 March 2017 the High Court upheld the English language requirement, which requires applicants for either a new or renewal private hire driver's licence to demonstrate that they can communicate in English at the appropriate level for speaking, listening, reading and writing.

However, the High Court's judgment is the subject of an appeal. The Court of Appeal has decided to hear the appeal and has now confirmed that the appeal hearing will take place from 20 February 2018.

Previously, we stated that anyone whose application for a new or renewal private hire driver's licence was received on or after 14 October 2016 had until 30 September 2017 to provide evidence of their ability to comply with the requirement to TfL. We have now extended the deadline from 30 September 2017 to 16 July 2018.

It remains the case that current licence holders whose application for a private hire driver's licence was received by TfL before 14 October 2016 will need to satisfy the English language requirement only at the point where they apply to renew their licence (unless this falls before 16 July 2018, in which case they have until 16 July 2018 to satisfy the English language requirement).

Examples of suitable evidence

This is a list of examples of suitable evidence you can supply to prove you meet the requirement. The list is not exhaustive. The subject of the qualification does not matter as long as it was taught in English.

  • UK GCSE/O level (or equivalent) certificate at grades A* to G
  • UK AS-Level/A level certificate
  • UK NVQ*/BTEC/City & Guilds qualification, along with confirmation from the awarding body that the qualification provided is equivalent to GCSE or above (for example, a Blue Badge Guide qualification)
  • UK BA Hons, BSc Hons degree or higher i.e. master's, PhD
  • UK HNC/HND qualification
  • SELT certificate at B1 level or higher, issued by Trinity College London or IELTS showing proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening

Replacement certificates

There are four accredited Ofqual awarding organisations offering GSCEs in England: AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC. There are also others for the rest of the UK. Replacement certificates are available from those organisations.

A certified confirmation of results from the relevant awarding body will be acceptable.

Language requirement

There are currently two approved interim English language test providers: Trinity College London and IELTS (International English Language Test System).

Trinity College London's ISE I qualification will be accepted by TfL as evidence of meeting the new English language requirement. Find out more about Trinity, and how you can book the ISE I language test.

IELTS Academic and General Training tests are both accepted by TfL as evidence of meeting the new English language requirement. Find out more about IELTS, and how you can book their tests. 

Information on any further providers and how you can book them, will be published on this web page.

Applicants may satisfy TfL of their ability to meet the requirement by providing:

  • A certificate from one of TfL's secure English language test providers confirming that the applicant's level of proficiency in the English language is at level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: ("CEFR") or above; or;
  • Documentary evidence of a qualification (whether or not the qualification was obtained in the United Kingdom) on the basis of which TfL is satisfied that the applicant's level of proficiency in the English language is equivalent to level B1 on the CEFR or above.

This is our guidance on how to satisfy the English language requirement. You can do this by either sitting the test with a secure TfL-appointed provider, or by providing satisfactory documentary evidence of your ability to speak, listen, read and write to the appropriate level in English.

A copy of the amended private hire regulations regarding the English language requirement, and a copy of the Equality Impact Assessment is also included: