Requirement to present the taxi driver´s test in France

As all we know the taxi driver is a regulated profession in France. According to the French public service website

 the following is needed to succeed in applying for a taxi driver license:

• A full category B driving license,

 • Be declared fit by a doctor approved by the prefecture,

 • Hold a PSC1 (a basic first aid training certificate) for less than 2 years,

• Meet the criminal record standard i.e. not have been sentenced by a French court or foreign for a felony or misdemeanor for theft, fraud, embezzlement, deliberate attack on the integrity of the person, sexual assault or breach legislation on narcotics that led to at least a 6 months’ prison term.

 In addition, certain driving offences (such as driving while intoxicated or after drug use, speeding, unintentional injuries to others while driving, driving without a licence etc.) prevent an applicant getting a licence. Non-European Union candidates need to show that they have a residence permit to exercise a professional activity in France. They also need a Certificate of Professional Competence for taxi drivers, which is given after an exam is passed in each region in France. The exam includes several tests on various subjects: general regulations, road safety, French, management, local regulations, and a driving test.

All of above was take from this link and it is a document from the European Union about how to apply and what you need to apply, but we are here to make a deeper analysis.

In France, around four millions of young and new drivers, wait their turn to be asked questions to obtaining a license and that can take up to two years and cost more than buying a second-hand car.

In France, there is a limited number of driving tests each year for a taxi license and the government allocates them to driving schools, not individuals. This is a problem because anyone who takes money for driving lessons has to be qualified, but friends or family are allowed to teach for nothing, and learners take the tests whenever they feel ready

The driving schools with the biggest quotas can afford to be as selective as they can, and as expensive for the amount of tuition they offer, as some top universities in the country. It is the driving schools, not the candidates, who decide when learners take the test. Their quotas depend to some extent on their pass rate, so they have every incentive to hold back weaker students and win more money.Those who fail first time must wait up to a year to retake the test. The longer the schools can spin out the process, of course, the more money they can charge. “Failure is part of their business model,” says Patrick Chopin, head of the driving examiners’ union in Paris. “They make 80 per cent of their margins that way”. Now you are imagining how hard is to get that license for is a taxi driver in France

In a report leaked this summer, the Inspection Générale des Finances, found that these professions – including notaries, pharmacists, lawyers and bailiffs made on average 19 per cent profit, more than twice the level in the rest of the economy. Driving schools’ monopoly, the inspectors found, “offered no obvious benefit to the consumer or public safety”.

But the result, in this particular case, is not just expense, bad service and hassle. It is that millions of people, particularly young people that are try to get a taxi driver license. Youth unemployment in France is 24 per cent, and this is one of the reasons why.

The last conservative president, Nicolas Sarkozy, proposed an “ambitious reform” to make the driving test “quicker and cheaper”, putting driving instructors into schools. The driving schools saw that one off pretty quickly. Loan schemes have been started to let young people spread the cost, or pay it back with community work, but have had only modest impact.

Now that we know how dark and hard is to get this license it is the time for speak about taxi license and their marked. To become a self-employed taxi driver, it is necessary to own a license.

There are two different ways of obtaining a license. For free, registering on a waiting list at the Taxi Office; it takes an average of 14 years to get a license through that channel or buying a license from another driver who decided to retire, at a free market price. Licenses delivered for free since 2014 cannot be sold on that secondary market.

Self-employment appears to be a second stage in a taxi driver’s professional life; most drivers start by leasing a license, or as employees in a taxi company. According to the some surveys, self-employed drivers had worked an average of 6 years as a taxi driver before getting their own license.

This average figure conceals two different strategies: drivers who bought their license (85 % of self-employed drivers) did so after 2.6 years in the taxi industry. Those who waited for a free license (15 % of self-employed drivers) worked for 14.3 years before getting it. The rationale behind this second strategy was to accept a low income for a long period of time, as an employee or leasing a license, in order to obtain a valuable asset, they could sell when they retire. As free licenses granted after 2014 cannot be sold on the secondary market, this strategy may become less attractive, causing the leasing price to drop.

The license price drop in 2015 and 2016, and its small rebound in 2017 can be interpreted as follows:

Competition coming from new mobility apps had an effect on license prices, which were rising sharply before these new services entered the market (+42 % between 2009 and 2013, taking into account the inflation). The price drop, from 240’000 € to 124’000 € at the end of 2016, is a sign that the economic rent associated with taxi licenses has become less important. This episode can be seen as a speculative bubble burst.

After the 2017 rebound, taxi licenses are priced at a level close to that reached at the beginning of the 2000’s, proving that the taxi industry still has a certain appeal and that drivers are anticipating their income to be significant enough for them to reimburse their expenses.

The impact of the new free licenses, which cannot be sold, appears limited on the second-hand license market: the number of new licenses issued is not sufficient to satisfy the demand from new drivers.

Price stabilization might indicate that the private transportation market has reached maturity:

The main taxi company “G7” decided to absorb its subsidiary “Taxis Bleus”. Having two brands was a way not to appear as a monopoly on the reservation market. With the new competition from Uber, it no longer appears necessary to follow that strategy.

New regulations on online platforms, with the alignment of the exam for drivers working for ridehailing apps on the exam for taxi drivers, lead to a convergence in status between taxi drivers and private hire drivers. While this regulation is by no means as stringent as that resulting from the limited and very much static number of taxi licenses available, it will, to a certain extent, ensure stability in the number of drivers on the market for private transportation.

We are finished talking about prices and markets is time to talk about the experiences. In this part of the article we will cite some part an interview made by Janet Hulstrand with Joe Feraud a French American who applied and holds a license as a taxi driver

Janet: What was the most surprising thing you learned as you began the process of applying for a French taxi driver’’ license?

Joe: I had heard that it would be difficult, so at first I put it off. I kept looking for some exit, or loophole, or exception. I never found one.

I wasn’t encouraged by my fellow expats’ stories. There was literally no one in my entourage who had done it the hard way, the way the folks who grow up in France do it. Many of my compatriots had held out longer than me, 20 years, 30 years driving on a US state license in France. With reference points like that, I was really tempted to risk living outside the law.

When I began the process, I asked myself if the effort would be worth it. It was like an obstacle course, where at first I would look at the obstacle and say to myself, “They can’t really expect me to do that,can they?” And then I would overcome the obstacle, and collapse exhausted on the other side. Then I would dust myself off and look weary-eyed at the next obstacle, which was even harder than the last one. As I repeated this process several times, I was wondering where I would find the motivation to keep going, especially since there was zero reward at the finish line. ItwasthehardestthingI’veever done.

Janet: What is the most important thing for Americans to know about getting a French taxi driver license? And what general advice do you have for them?

Joe: I would say that getting a French driver’s license should be at the top of their list of things to do, before getting a job and getting a place to live. This sounds extreme, but literally every other administrative thing they will do will be easier and take less time. Plus, the clock starts ticking the minute they get official documents from the OFII. Unless they get ahead of the game, that hourglass will run out of sand, and by then their lives will be so inextricably entwined with their new home, they’ll have to do it the hard way.

My advice to Americans is to swap their US license for one from one of the 18 states with an exchange state agreement with France. And do it before you arrive in France. Even if you do this, it may still take more than a year to have the French administration provide you with a French license. If you don’t do this, it will definitely take more than a year, especially in Paris, and you’ll be forced into disobeying the law involuntarily. But hey, you might get a funny travel memoir out of the experience

Janet: After reading your book, it seems to me that the process of getting a French drivers’ license for Americans presents yet another set of interesting cultural differences between France and the US. Would you agree with this, and if so, can you describe what some of those differences are, and how they are manifested in this particular area of life?

Joe: I touch on the difference in attitudes in Chapter 7, “Car Culture,” and Chapter 16, “Lifer,” but I think the most flagrant difference is that the French consider the car to be a weapon. Most Europeans share this view, whereas Americans consider driving to be a right.

Janet: I think it’s important to congratulate you on not only your persistence and determination, but also your success! What are you doing with all that extra time (and money!) now that you are no longer deeply engaged in the process of getting a French driving license? 

Joe: I just finished my second book! It’s called The Chairfather, and it’s a photo book with humorous images and funny captions. The theme is, I’m enjoying lunch and interviews with yesterday’s stars. It’s a companion book to a set of tours I’m producing covering the personalities in the Père Lachaise cemeteryTour 1 just came out, and Tours 2 and 3 will be released shortly. Check them out, and feel free to drop me a line. I want folks to start going places with me!

As a  conclusion the taxi profession is very regulated. It benefits from certain advantages in comparison with other passenger transport providers but on the other hand, with more significant disadvantages.

The taxi driver, either owner or employee, must hold a certificate of professional competence. His professional card must be displayed at the bottom of its vehicle’s windscreen, and it must specify in which area(s) he or she can exercise his/her profession.