Start a for-hire vehicle business

To start a for-hire vehicle service in Seattle, you must submit many different forms and documents. Review this page for an overview of the documents you will need. There are three main licenses you will need to obtain:

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Vehicle licenses: required documents

If you are starting a new for-hire company, you will need to submit these forms:

  • initial for-hire company information form
  • Seattle for-hire vehicle license application
  • request for acceptance of color scheme and trade name form
  • rate filing form and rate sheet
  • security camera installation form from a City-approved installer
  • criminal record check and fingerprint card

You must submit these documents to apply for a vehicle license:

  • for-hire certificate from Washington state
  • vehicle registration from Washington state
  • business license from Washington state (must be manually stamped by the state licensing office)
  • certificate of mechanical safety from a City-approved mechanic
  • insurance binder or policy
  • Seattle business license

Driver license requirements

The City of Seattle contracts with King County to perform the licensing of taxi and for-hire drivers working in Seattle. Renew or apply for a new driver license through the King County licensing service.

To be apply for a license to drive a taxi or for-hire vehicle, you must:

  • be 21 years of age
  • have a Washington state driver's license
  • pass written tests on personal conduct and local geography
  • be fingerprinted
  • pass a physical exam
  • attend association training
  • pass an oral English-language test
  • get a City of Seattle business license
  • complete a two-day driver-training program

Drivers must renew their for-hire licenses every year. They must also undergo annual driving record checks and criminal background checks. Every three years they must pass a physical exam.

Business record requirements

Note: these requirements do not apply to taxis; they only apply to for-hire services.

For-hire vehicle businesses are required by the City of Seattle to keep records. Records required are:

  • dispatch log
  • complaint log
  • trip sheets
  • quarterly service information reporting

Dispatch log
All trips must be pre-arranged. Passengers cannot arrange trips directly with for-hire drivers. Passengers must pre-arrange trips with the for-hire operator offices. For-hire vehicle cannot use taxicab zones, cannot cruise for passengers and cannot solicit passengers.

Complaint log
The for-hire vehicle licensee must maintain a complaint log. The for-hire vehicle licensee must keep each complaint log for a minimum of two years.

Trip sheets
The for-hire vehicle licensee must maintain daily trip sheet records. The for-hire vehicle licensee must keep daily trip sheets for a minimum of two years.

Quarterly service information reporting
The for-hire vehicle licensee must provide, through their association representative, the following information to the City each quarter:

  • number of service requests (trips) during the last quarter
  • average operating hours per week per vehicle for the last quarter
  • number of complaints received

Complaints must be organized in these categories:

  • driver behavior
  • driver communication
  • driver hygiene
  • incorrect route driven or destination not known
  • vehicle appearance
  • vehicle mechanical or safety issues
  • service response