In New York City, the Taxi & Limousine Commission – TLC – licenses drivers and vehicles to carry fare-paying passengers.
Having a TLC driver’s license (now known as the universal license), grants drivers the authority to transport passengers using a TLC licensed vehicle. You can spot a TLC licensed vehicle by the special TLC plates they wear. The plates let passengers know that the vehicle they are about to travel in is legally licensed by the TLC and has passed mechanical inspection. The plates give valuable reassurance to the potential passenger.
Which is all great. But how do you get your TLC plates? Read on to know more.
Step 1: Purchase or lease an approved vehicle
The first step is to buy or lease an approved vehicle. However, since August 2018, the TLC has stopped issuing new licenses to regular for-hire vehicles. (FHV). The only exceptions are cars and vans that are wheelchair accessible, or fully electric. (TLC calls these vehicles Battery Electric Vehicles or BEV). Gas/electric hybrid cars do not meet the rules for exemption. TLC has given no expiry date for the current cap on new vehicle licenses. It could be long-term.
This rule means you should think carefully about the vehicle you buy. Will it be wheelchair friendly, or will you go for BEV? (See our list of best electric cars for Uber here). Whatever vehicle you opt for, keep your bill of sale or lease agreement in a safe place. You’ll need it for insurance purposes.
The TLC splits the vehicles it licenses into different classes. These are known as black car, livery, or taxi – you can find out more about TLC insurance with INSHUR here. App companies like Uber, Lyft and Gett typically fall into the Black Car base category. If you’re aiming to drive for one of these companies make sure you purchase a vehicle that they will accept on their platform. For instance, you can see the vehicles Uber accepts here.
Step 2: Select a TLC base to affiliate with
You will need to affiliate your vehicle with a TLC approved dispatch base. A dispatch base is the company you effectively drive for and who connects you to passengers seeking a ride. This can be a traditional for-hire business, or one of the newer App companies such as Uber, Lyft and Gett. These large organisations typically have their own TLC registered black car bases.
Contact the base of your choosing to get what is known as a base letter. The base letter is a certified document that states which base you intend to affiliate with, (which means the one you’ll drive for).
Important fact: From the time a dispatch base, such as Uber, submits a base letter for your vehicle, you have seven days to submit your vehicle license application online at: nyc.gov/lars . You need proof of insurance at the time of registration, so you will need to act quickly to obtain coverage.
Step 3: Purchase TLC minimum required insurance
If your vehicle seats 8 or less people (most vehicles fall into this category). You will need to purchase commercial liability insurance with minimum limits of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident in bodily injury liability, $200,000 in no-fault coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability.
Does that sound complicated? It’s not, just download the INSHUR app, scan your TLC license and in seconds you’ll get quotes from top carriers that conform to the minimum levels of insurance required by the TLC. Be aware that these are minimum levels of insurance and it’s sometimes advisable to purchase higher coverage. Keep in mind that the TLC doesn’t require collision coverage, although it may make sense for you to purchase it – find out if it makes sense for you here. Ask yourself, can you afford to have your vehicle repaired if it’s involved in a collision?
Once your policy is issued, you will receive an FH1 (for-hire vehicle certificate), a certificate of insurance naming the TLC as a certificate holder and a declarations page showing your levels of coverage. These documents will be securely stored in your INSHUR app and will also be emailed to your account. Keep in mind that it may take a few days to process your application at the TLC, so pick an appropriate effective date to start your INSHUR TLC policy in the app.
Step 4: Prepare your TLC vehicle license application
Step 5: Submit TLC vehicle application
Once you have your documents prepared, you are now ready to submit the application to the TLC. Note that you can no longer submit documents in person at TLC. You must file all the required documents online at nyc.gov/lars .Select ‘apply for a new license’ and select ‘vehicle’ – then follow the instructions to upload the required documents. Once your application is processed you will be provided a plate letter – usually by email. This letter allows you to register your car at the DMV. It is only valid for 20 days from the date of issue.
Step 6: Get your TLC plates and schedule an inspection (if needed)
Within 20 days of receiving your plate letter visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to register your vehicle. Take the plate letter and your INSHUR insurance documents to any DMV location to register and get your TLC plates. Put the plates on your vehicle and make sure you upload a copy of your registration to the INSHUR app.
If you purchase a used vehicle with more than 500 miles on the odometer, you’ll also need to schedule a mechanical inspection – contact your affiliated base to schedule an appointment.
Inspections are carried out at BQE TLC 24-55 BQE Woodside, NY 11377. Make sure your vehicle has a Vision Zero sticker on the windshield and for a BEV, Green NYC stickers placed on both sides of the rear of the car. (Ask your affiliated base for these decals).
And that’s it. Your newly TLC licensed vehicle is now ready to hit the road and you’re ready to start making money.
If you are on desktop, search for INSHUR in your app store on your mobile.
- Follow these steps to obtain TLC plates for your vehicle
- Buy or lease a vehicle – it must be all-electric or wheelchair accessible
- Select a TLC base to affiliate with
- Purchase minimum required TLC insurance
- Assemble all your documents for submitting to TLC
- Submit to TLC online
- Receive a ‘Plate Letter’ from TLC
- Take plate letter and other docs to DMV to register car and get your plates
- Schedule a mechanical inspection if your vehicle has travelled more than 500 miles
- Pass inspection and you are good to go
LINKS and SOURCES:
Uber NY eligible vehicles: https://www.uber.com/drive/new-york/get-started/eligible-vehicles/
LARS registration site: nyc.gov/lars
LARS documents list: file:///C:/Users/User/Documents/Welcome%20to%20DOITT%20TLC.html
Vision Zero: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/visionzero/index.page