All private hire drivers are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency as part of Transport for London’s fit and proper assessment.

Under The Private Hire Vehicles (London PHV Driver’s Licences) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2016 (or the English Language requirement introduction October 2016”), private hire driver licence applications (including a renewal) received by Transport for London (TfL) on or after October 14, 2016 must comply with the English language requirement (ELR).  They can do so either by submitting documentary evidence of a qualification or passing a SELT with one of TfL’s appointed providers.

Existing private hire drivers have until September 30, 2021 to comply with TfL’s English language requirement (ELR).  Anyone applying for a new licence, or seeking to renew their licence, on or after 1 October 2021 will need to satisfy the ELR before a licence is granted.

According to TfL “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.”

TfL’s English language requirement (ELR)

Anyone applying for a new licence or seeking to renew their licence on or after 1 October 2021 will need to satisfy the English language requirement before a licence will be granted.

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

  • TfL’s Secure English Language Test (SELT) provided by Trinity College London and IELTS (International English Language Test System) confirming your level of proficiency is at level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: (“CEFR”) or above; or;
  • Documentary evidence of a qualification on the basis of which TfL is satisfied that the applicant’s level of proficiency at the same level as above.

Examples of documentary evidence include:

  • 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

Not complying with the English language requirement will affect your licence.  TfL is likely to refuse your application or renewal on the basis that you are not a fit and proper person.  You have the right to appeal.


Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in taxi and private hire licensing law, appeals and defence.

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