Taxi Associations

The City of Seattle passed an ordinance in 2014 regulating the number and operation of taxicabs. Key provisions of the ordinance that apply to taxicab associations are:

  • Taxicab associations must have a valid business license.
  • Taxicab associations must maintain required records for two years.
  • Taxicab associations must submit quarterly reports to the City.

Taxicab associations must meet certain operating responsibilities. Taxicab associations must:

  • Maintain affiliation with at least 15 taxis and notify the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services of any changes in the affiliation status of any vehicle.
  • Maintain an address where it can accept mail, have a working telephone,  keep all required records and provide a secure place for lost-and-found items left in taxis by passengers.
  • Provide radio or computer dispatch services during all hours that affiliated taxis are operating.
  • Ensure that affiliated taxis are properly insured and maintain compliance with the association's color scheme.
  • Forward correspondence from the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services to the association's drivers.
  • File reports required by the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.
  • Notify the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services when drivers are convicted of criminal offenses or traffic violations that occurred while operating a taxi.
  • Notify the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services when drivers or licensees are convicted of serious criminal offenses that have a bearing on their ability or fitness to operate a taxi. Such offenses may include: theft, fraud, robbery, burglary, assault, sex crimes, alcohol, drugs or prostitution.
  • Report traffic accidents involving affiliated taxis.
  • Permit inspections without notice of association records or affiliated taxis.
  • Pay penalties for any violations.
  • Provide a supervisor at a taxicab zone whenever the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services determines it is necessary.
  • Require a safety inspection of affiliated taxicabs before they provide services and annually thereafter.

Taxicab associations must have a valid Seattle business license.
In addition, associations must file an application that includes the following information:

  • The name, address, phone number and date of birth of the taxicab association representative.
  • The taxicab number (assigned by the City or County) and the name of each taxicab vehicle owner that will be affiliated with the taxicab association.
  • The special or contract rates that will be charged by taxis affiliated with the taxicab association.
  • Any other information required by director's rules.

This information must be updated annually when the business license is renewed.

The annual fee for taxicab associations is $1,000. Associations that are late in renewing must pay a late fee of $100.

Registered owners of taxicabs and for-hire vehicles must maintain commercial insurance coverage with the following levels of coverage:

  • 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. The registered owners of vehicles must file evidence of insurance with the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. Taxicab associations and for-hire vehicle companies may purchase and file such evidence on behalf of drivers.

Taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers must keep proof of commercial insurance in their vehicles while operating them.

Online dispatch applications, which are sometimes called mobile apps or online apps, allow people to request dispatch of drivers for trips or to accept payments for trips via the Internet using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Online dispatch applications must make the rate structure transparent, including any variable fees or possible surcharges, before the customer confirms the ride.

Transportation network companies must use an online dispatch application; taxicab associations and for-hire companies may use them with approval from the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Taxicab meter rates are established by rule by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. Meter rates are as follows:

  • Drop charge: $2.50 for passengers for the first one-ninth of a mile.
  • Per mile: $0.30 for each one-ninth of mile or fraction thereof after the first one-ninth of a mile.
  • Waiting time, charged when the taxicab speed is less than 11 miles per hour, or when the customer asks the driver to wait: $0.50 for every one minute of waiting time, charged at $0.30 per 36 seconds.
  • Additional per passenger charge for more than two persons, excluding children under twelve years of age: $0.50.

Taxis must pay a surcharge of 10 cents per ride for the Wheelchair Accessible Services Fund.

The Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services may approve the addition of a temporary fuel surcharge rate to the meter rate any time the price of fuel, as published by the American Automobile Association, exceeds a fuel surcharge trigger price established by a Director's Rule. The surcharge will cover increased fuel costs.

If a taxicab association is using an online dispatch application, the rates must be transparent to the customer as determined by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Taxicabs must charge a flat rate for trips to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from the downtown Seattle hotel district unless the vehicle is using an application dispatch system. The rate must be filed with the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services and displayed conspicuously in the taxicab.

Coupons or discounts are not allowed unless the taxicab is using an application dispatch system.

Taxicab associations, for-hire vehicle companies and transportation network companies must compile accurate and complete operational records and keep these records for two years. The records must include:

  • The total number of rides provided by each taxi, for-hire vehicle license holder or transportation network company.
  • The type of dispatch for each ride (hail, phone, online app, etc.).
  • The percentage or number of rides picked up in each ZIP code.
  • The pick up and drop off ZIP codes of each ride.
  • The percentage by ZIP code of rides that are requested by telephone or applications but do not happen.
  • The number of collisions, including the name and number of the affiliated driver, collision fault, injuries and estimated damage.
  • The number of rides when an accessible vehicle was requested.
  • Reports of crimes against drivers.
  • Records of passenger complaints.
  • Any other data identified by the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services to ensure compliance.

Records may be maintained electronically.

Data must be reported quarterly to the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. Reports are to be made electronically on forms provided by the director.

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:

OffenseClassAmountPoints
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 $1000 20