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How to Become a New York City Taxi Driver

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New York City has two types of taxi cabs -- yellow medallion taxis that can pick up passengers anywhere in the five city boroughs, and green street hail livery taxis that can pick up passengers in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission's requirements for these two types of cabs are exactly the same. Becoming a taxi driver in this city is a complicated process with many steps.

Make Sure You Meet the Requirements

To apply for either of these taxi licenses, you must be at least 19 years old and have a valid New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania chauffeur’s license. If you have a New York chauffeur's license, it must be class A, B, C or E, as these are the only classes that are accepted. If you have a New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania chauffeur's license, it must be equivalent to New York state's class A, B, C or E. If you do not have a chauffeur's license, obtain one through your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Requirements for obtaining a chauffeur's license vary by state, but typically involve having a valid driver's license, being at least 17 years old, passing a chauffeur's examination and vision screening, and paying a small fee.

Be aware that the TLC runs a fingerprint criminal background check. If you have been convicted of one or more crimes involving violence, driving under the influence, drugs, substance abuse or sexual abuse, the TLC will review your application carefully and may deny your license.

Finally, you must make sure that your finances are in order, and be able to show that you do not have any outstanding traffic violations or parking tickets. If your license was issued in New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania, you must present a certified DMV statement showing that you have no outstanding fines. You must also fill out a Child Support Certification form to indicate that you do not have any outstanding child support payments.

Assemble the Necessary Paperwork

This paperwork should include your driving record, your actual Social Security card -- copies and laminated cards are not accepted -- a TLC medical form and an application form. Obtain a stamped or sealed copy of your Certified Abstract, or State Driver Record, from your local DMV. This copy cannot be more than 30 days old from the date of your application. You must also have a doctor complete and sign the TLC medical form. This form must be less than six months old from the date you submit your application, and should also include the doctor’s official stamp. Find the medical form and license application on the TLC website.

Note that some forms on the TLC application must be notarized.

Submit Application and Fees

Whether your'e seeking a medallion or street hail livery taxi license, you must fill out a TLC application and pay a number of processing fees. Before submitting an application, you must watch a sex trafficking awareness training video. After you have completed the training and assembled all the paperwork, submit your TLC application to either the Long Island City Office or the Staten Island Office.

In addition to the training and test fees that follow, as of February 2015 you must also pay an $84 one-year licensing fee and a $75 fingerprinting fee for your criminal background check. You can pay these fees with a money order or a major credit card. All fees are non-refundable, even if your application is rejected -- so make sure that everything is in order before you submit.

Complete the Training and Tests

After submitting the application, all drivers are required to take a defensive driving course, which is about six hours long and costs $50. You must complete the course within six months of application submission. You must also attend an approved taxi school -- either an 80-hour course or a 24-hour course. The TLC indicates that taking the 80-hour course may increase your chances of being accepted. The course costs between $175 and $325, depending on the length. After completing the taxi course, you must pass an English proficiency test and take a written exam based on the course.

After submitting your application, you must take and pass a drug test at a TLC-approved facility, at a cost of $26. You must also complete a wheelchair accessible vehicle training course, which costs an additional $60.


Marie Gentile has a passion for personal finance and style, and takes a special interest in the places where they intersect. She specializes in writing about money management and frugal living. Gentile has a bachelor's degree in journalism and has been published in several personal finance-related print and online publications.

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