Taxi drivers who want to work in London will have to pass the Knowledge test. This is considered one of the most challenging examinations for professionals in this industry.
The 7-stage test consists of a self-assessment, written exam, 3 oral exams, a driving exam, and a number of talks which will test your knowledge of the capital’s destinations, landmarks and roads.
Through hard work and perseverance, you will have the opportunity to apply for your license, memorise London’s routes and pass the Knowledge test to allow you to operate as a taxi driver in London. Our guide will give you a quick overview on how you can achieve this.
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Apply for your license
To master the Knowledge of London, it will take most people three to four years on average. You will be required to have a comprehensive knowledge of the destinations, landmarks and routes across the city and suburbs. You’ll still be able to work a part-time or full-time job during this period. However, managing your calendar well will give you the necessary time to prepare for this new challenge.
There are two types of taxi licenses. The green badge allows you to work anywhere in the Greater London Authority area. The yellow badge will only allow you to work in one of the nine sectors in London. The exam will be based around the license you wish to pursue. To start your application, visit the Transport for London (TfL) website and register online. You’ll need to pass an enhanced background check which looks to see if you’re of good character and have no previous serious criminal convictions.
Once you have submitted the required medical evidence, you will also need to pass an in-depth medical check. After this, TfL will send you a ‘Blue book’. Shortly after this, you will need to attend a Knowledge of London talk, this will be held at a Transport for London office, where an examiner will provide you with helpful tips and strategies for learning the Knowledge.
Learn London’s destinations, landmarks and routes
The blue book will give you all the necessary information surrounding London’s roads, routes and landmarks. There are 320 routes within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross, which is seen as central London. Breaking this information down into sections, watching videos, or creating your own map will help you visualise and learn these more effectively.
If you are a visual learner, getting out and about on a bicycle can help you better familiarise yourself with this information. When navigating these roads, stay alert and remember to hydrate. For those that prefer a traditional classroom environment, there are independent organisations that will allow you to enrol in a ‘Knowledge School’, and prepare you for the ‘Appearance’ stage of the test by covering the content from the blue book.
After studying the blue book for six months, you now need to take the self-assessment which covers the first 80 routes, by contacting Transport for London. The self-assessment is free of charge. TfL will not record your score, giving you a good opportunity to see how you’ve progressed at this initial stage. You’ll also be able to ask the examiner any questions you may have about anything you’re unsure about.
Taking the Knowledge exam
After passing the self-assessment, you’ll have to take the two-section written exam within two years of receiving the blue book. Section one will consist of five questions testing your knowledge of the shortest possible route between two given points, section two consists of 25 questions surrounding various points on the routes. You need a score of 60 or more out of 100 to pass.
After the written exam, your knowledge of the routes will be tested through three appearances with an examiner. Stages 3-5 of the testing process are a series of oral examinations with a TfL examiner. You will be asked short questions about routes, landmarks, and named buildings in London. Each appearance will roughly take 20-30 minutes. Each appearance will be within four to eight weeks of each other.
After this, you’ll now need to take the suburban examination to demonstrate you have a good understanding of the landmarks and routes in the suburbs. This will consist of six questions and also test your ability to navigate between central London, the suburbs, and the airports. After the suburban exam, you’ll need to take and pass the taxi driving test once it becomes available.
Finally, you will be invited to attend a pre-licensing talk where you will also receive your badge. Your examiner will provide you with further guidance on what to expect in the role of a taxi driver in London. Congratulations! After the ceremony, you can finally collect your new license and badge. It may also be worth making connections with other taxi drivers at this event, as they will also be doing the same job as you. If you do have any further questions, this is a great opportunity to ask your examiner. Your hard work and dedication has finally paid off. Have a wonderful career and drive safely.