Uber, and other ride hailing apps, have revolutionised the way we get taxis. According to their publicity, it’s really easy to set yourself up as an Uber driver and start earning extra money. But is this really the case?
Basic Personal Criteria
Although it’s true that most people will be able to start the application process, there are a few restrictions. UK Uber drivers must be over the age of 21, and have a full UK driving licence. As rules about taxi licences vary around the UK, some areas may also specify a minimum number of years driving experience too.
Private Hire Licence
Uber doesn’t actually licence its own drivers. People wishing to pick up work through these sorts of apps must go through the process of applying for a private hire licence like any other taxi driver. The process varies by location but could involve any of the following:
- Extended driving test
- English language test
- Local area knowledge test
- Enhanced DBS check
- Safeguarding training
Individual applicants meet the cost for all of these checks and tests. Once issued, a private hire licence usually lasts for three years. In many areas, there is a backlog of people waiting for approval as a private hire driver. DBS checks take time to process, as does getting an appointment to take tests. Setting up as a driver isn’t something you can do in a few hours and get straight out onto the roads. It’s therefore perhaps not the best choice for anyone who needs an additional source of income quickly.
As well as checking out the drivers, cars have to meet certain requirements to get a private hire licence. Councils might set age limits on minicabs, and cars which are being used as taxis need more frequent MOT tests too. The MOT for a taxi isn’t different to the MOT test for any other car, but the tests start when the car is one year old, not three. Again, you’ll pay the costs for roadworthiness tests. Your car will also need four doors, with no commercial branding and with seatbelts fitted for all passengers and the driver. Cars being used as taxis also require specific insurance.
How Does it Work?
Once you have registered as a driver, gone through all the checks and had your car approved, you can start work. Drivers are free to log into apps and work as little or much as they wish. Many drivers are signed up with two or more apps, switching between them to keep busy. Passengers pay up front through the app before getting into the car, so there’s no risk they’ll skip out without paying. However, apps take a percentage of driver earnings, often as much as 25%. Some drivers make a full time wage driving through apps, but more use them as a top-up to other types of work. £15 per hour appears to be the average amount, but remember you’ll have to deduct fuel and other running costs from earnings.