TNC Drivers

The City of Seattle passed an ordinance in 2014 regulating transportation network company (TNC) drivers. These regulations are different than the TNC tax which began in 2021, which TNC companies pay. The TNC tax is not on the individual drivers. Drivers do not file the TNC tax with Seattle, but they are still required to file Seattle business taxes via FileLocal and maintain the licensing requirements listed here.

To legally operate in Seattle as a TNC driver:

  • You must carry a valid driver's license.
  • You must carry a valid for-hire driver's permit. (Issued by King County Records and Licensing Services—(206) 263-1982)
  • Your vehicle must have a TNC vehicle endorsement.
  • You must allow the City to inspect your vehicle upon request.
  • You must carry proof that you are affiliated with a licensed TNC whenever you are active on the TNC dispatch system.
  • You must hold a valid City of Seattle business license.
  • You must not operate a vehicle that is not affiliated with a TNC to transport passengers.
  • You must not accept payment of cash fare; payment may only be made electronically via the TNC online dispatch application.
  • You must immediately notify the transportation network company and the Seattle Police Department if you have been the victim of a crime.

The for-hire driver's permit issued to a TNC driver and the vehicle decal (sticker affixed to windshield) issued to endorse a TNC vehicle will both include numbers unique to the driver and vehicle. These two numbers may not be the same, but the City of Seattle and King County will associate them for purposes of enforcing licensing requirements.

An active TNC driver is not required to pay any fee when applying for a for-hire driver's license/permit or a vehicle endorsement. Licensing fees for TNCs and affiliated drivers and vehicles are paid via a 18-cent charge on each TNC ride that originates within Seattle city limits. The City will invoice each licensed TNC on a quarterly schedule for remittance of the fee.

Drivers must follow these standards of conduct:

  • You must have a valid for-hire driver's permit and valid driver's license while operating the vehicle. You must display an enlargement of the for-hire permit in a frame inside the vehicle.
  • You must carry proof of commercial insurance in your vehicle while operating it.
  • You must not operate a taxicab, for-hire vehicle or TNC vehicle when its license has been suspended or revoked.
  • You must not be in control of a taxicab, TNC vehicle or for-hire vehicle for more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period. After that, you must not drive any for-hire vehicle until 10 consecutive hours have passed. Hours driven in for-hire vehicles in other platforms (taxicabs, for-hire vehicles) are aggregated.
  • You must check after each trip for items left behind by passengers and report and return such items to the company or association's lost-and-found.
  • You must operate your vehicles with due regard for the safety, comfort and convenience of passengers.
  • You must report records of trips and other required information each week.
  • No alcohol. You must not drink any alcoholic beverage while on duty or less than eight hours prior to going on duty; you may not possess an open or unsealed container of alcoholic beverages while on duty.
  • You must not use your vehicle for solicitation of prostitution or for the solicitation, transportation, sale or any activity related to illegal drugs.
  • No littering.
  • You must not smoke in the vehicle.
  • You must not use offensive language, expressions or gestures to any person while driving, operating, picking up customers or in control of a taxicab, transportation network company vehicle or for-hire vehicle.
  • Carry a map of Seattle and the region, published within the past two years, and display the map to passengers when requested.
  • You must not use a mobile phone unless it is in hands-free mode.
  • You must report accidents that occur while operating a taxicab, for-hire vehicle or transportation network vehicle within three days to both the state of Washington, as required, and to the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Drivers must follow these customer relations standards:

  • You must provide customers with professional and courteous service at all times.
  • You must not refuse to transport any passenger's wheelchair if it can be folded and placed in the passenger, driver or trunk compartment of the vehicle.
  • You must not refuse to transport a service animal or guide dog that is assisting a customer with a disability.
  • You must not refuse to transport groceries, packages or luggage when accompanied by a passenger.
  • You must help passengers by placing luggage or packages that weigh less than 50 pounds in and out of the vehicle.
  • You must provide each passenger with an electronic or paper receipt upon payment of the fare.
  • You must use the most direct available route on all trips unless the passenger specifically requests to change the route.
  • You must not refuse to transport any person except when:
    • You have already been dispatched on another call.
    • The passenger is acting in a disorderly or threatening manner.
    • The passenger is otherwise acting in a way that would cause a reasonable person to be concerned for the health and safety of the driver or others.
    • The passenger refuses to state a specific destination upon entering the vehicle.
  • You must not make any discriminatory charges or rebates to any person.
  • You must be clean and neat in dress and person and present a professional appearance to the public.

Drivers of TNC-endorsed vehicles may not solicit passengers, cruise for passengers or pick up passengers in a taxi zone.

Transportation network companies must maintain commercial insurance coverage for all TNC-affiliated vehicles at any time they are active on a TNC online dispatch application. The insurance coverage must include:

  • Bodily injury limits of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
  • At least $25,000 for property damage.
  • Uninsured motorist insurance of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.

Policies must name the City of Seattle as an additional insured. Transportation network companies must file evidence of insurance with the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Drivers must keep proof of commercial insurance in their vehicles while operating them. If you are a TNC driver, you must also maintain your own auto insurance policy to provide coverage when your vehicle is not being used to transport passengers. Drivers are strongly encouraged to consult with their insurance carriers on how their personal vehicle policies cover TNC services.

Transportation network companies must provide a written insurance disclosure to TNC drivers that includes the following language:

"[insert full corporate name and designation of TNC] confirms, in accordance with SMC 6.310.260.A.2., that while driver [insert driver's full name] is active on its TNC dispatch system as defined by SMC 6.310.110, the driver's vehicle is insured as required by RCW 46.72.050."

Drivers must complete driver's education and be tested in order to be licensed. The training must include completion of the National Safety Council's Defensive Driving Course and at least one additional driving training program approved by the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Taxicab associations, for-hire vehicle companies or transportation network companies may provide driver training programs. Such programs must include:

  • Information about defensive driving.
  • Instruction on use of emergency equipment and procedures for driver safety.
  • Information about risk factors for crimes against drivers.
  • Training in passenger relations.
  • Information about standards of professional conduct.

Curriculum for driver training programs must be submitted by the association or company to the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services for approval each year.

Drivers must pass an examination in order to be licensed. The test may be administered by the City of Seattle, by the City jointly with King County, or by an approved taxicab association, for-hire vehicle company, transportation network company or third-party vendor. Examinations must test the driver's:

  • Knowledge of requirements and laws for operating taxicabs, for-hire vehicles or transportation network company vehicles.
  • Ability to speak and read English well enough to fulfill the duties of a driver.
  • Knowledge of vehicle safety requirements.
  • Knowledge of the geography of Seattle, King County and the surrounding region.
  • Knowledge of local public and tourist destinations and attractions.
  • Knowledge of risk factors for crimes against drivers, of emergency procedures and of personal safety equipment.

Exam procedures and content must be approved by the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

All drivers and vehicle owners must consent to criminal background checks. Transportation network companies, for-hire vehicle companies and taxicab associations must review the background checks and maintain records of them.

The background checks may be conducted by fingerprinting the driver, with prints forwarded to the FBI or Washington State Patrol for investigation. They may also be conducted by a third-party vendor approved by the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Companies also must report criminal offenses by drivers that have bearing on the driver's fitness to operate a taxicab, transportation network company vehicle or for-hire vehicle. These criminal offenses include but are not limited to:

  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Assault
  • Sex crimes
  • Alcohol or drug offenses
  • Prostitution

All for-hire vehicles, transportation network company vehicles and taxicabs must undergo a uniform vehicle safety inspection before they can be used to provide services. This inspection covers all major components of the vehicle, as well as vehicle features that aid the driver and keep the passenger comfortable. Inspections certify that the vehicle is mechanically sound and fit for driving and will note that all plates, decals and notices required and supplied by the City are legible and properly displayed. The inspection must be done by a mechanic approved by the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. See the list of City-approved vehicle safety inspection mechanics.

It is the responsibility of the for-hire company, TNC or taxicab association to require that vehicles pass inspection and to maintain records of vehicle inspections.

Taxi and for-hire regulations and operating standards are enforced by City inspectors. Inspectors ride unannounced in taxis and for-hire vehicles to ensure that operating standards are met. If you have questions about driver or vehicle operating standards, please contact us.

You have 10 days to request a hearing if you receive a violation, suspension or revocation. Instructions for requesting a hearing will be on the reverse side of the notice of violation or license action form, or you may contact us.

If you receive a notice of infraction, you must respond within 15 days. Instructions for responding will be on the reverse side of the notice of infraction. Payments or requests for hearings are processed by Seattle Municipal Court.

You must pay any fines within 30 days of the issue date. Failure to pay could result in the loss of your license. This table lists Seattle fines for taxi and for-hire violations:

1st A $35 2
2nd A $70 3
3rd A $120 4
1st B $70 4
2nd B $175 7
3rd B $300 10
All C $1,000 20