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New London private hire driver language requirements set to go live at end of the month

All licensed Transport for London (TfL) private hire drivers must comply with new English language requirements coming into force at the end of the month.

Private hire drivers yet to pass the English speaking, writing or listening test will not have their licences revoked when the new licensing policy goes live on 1 October 2021, says London trade sources.

New licensing policies in the capital based on ‘safety, equality and regulatory obligations’ are also expected to begin on the same date.

However, anyone applying for a new licence or renew their existing licence on or after 1 October 2021 will now need to satisfy the English language requirement before a licence will be granted.

According to sources, the transport regulators will use new training modules to confirm whether an applicant is proficient at reading and writing English at the level required.

A further 15-20 minute ‘conversational’ test would follow to assess the would-be driver’s ability to listen to and speak English.

According to TfL’s website: “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.”

For drivers to meet the standard required they must now obtain a certificate from one of TfL’s Secure English Language Test (SELT) 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”).

Alternatively drivers can provide 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.

TfL have provided examples of suitable evidence which 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.


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