Experiences involving transportation in Seattle
These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
Do I need a special license or permit to drive my guests to and from my experience if I don’t charge them for the ride?
You don’t need a special license or permit to drive your guests as long as you are not charging them for the ride.
In order to drive guests without getting an extra license or permit, you:
- cannot charge them for the transportation you provide (either directly or by adding the cost of transportation to your Experience Fee), and
- should clearly mention in your Listing that transportation will be provided “at no charge.”
If you want to charge your guests for the ride, you need to get special licenses.
- Example: Joe takes his guests on a meditative walk through Bare Mountain and wants to give them a free ride to/from the experience. Joe’s listing makes it clear he will pick up Guests who need a ride to get to his Experience at no charge to the Guest. Joe does not need special licenses (aside from his regular driver’s license) to do this.
If I want to charge for the ride, do I need a special license or permit to drive guests to and from my Experience?
Yes. If you’re charging your guests to drive them around the City of Seattle, unincorporated King County, and surrounding cities, you must first obtain a For-Hire license and hold a valid State of Washington driver’s license. By agreement, King County performs the licensing of For-Hire drivers working within all these jurisdictions. In order to get your For-Hire license from King County, you’ll need to:
- Complete the Online For-Hire Training course and pass the examination;
- Complete the National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving course (which costs $41.25)
- Complete the online For-Hire license application;
- Pass the County’s background check; and
- Pay your For-Hire driver license application fee of $188 (covers city and county authority).
- You must also obtain a For-Hire Permit, which does not require an upfront application fee. Instead, a For-Hire Permit holder must pay licensing and regulation fees of a per trip fee of $.35 by the County or $.10 by the City, and thus must keep accurate daily trip records.
Further, a Seattle city ordinance requires that For-Hire vehicles be registered in Washington State, may not be more than 10 years old, and must be equipped with a monitored GPS and silent alarm system. These vehicles must be submitted for an inspection by a city-approved mechanic, and hold commercial insurance.
The Annual City For-Hire Vehicle License fee is $500, and after complying with the rules, a decal will be issued to display on your vehicle. Your For-Hire Permit must be displayed in the vehicle, along with your rates charged and a current city map.
Once you file your application and meet the requirements, you should expect the King County Records and Licensing Service to mail your for-hire license within several business days.
Picking guests up at the airport: A For-Hire license does not guarantee that you will be allowed to pick up guests at the airport. Many airports have their own requirements for transportation providers such as background checks, vehicle inspections and placards. Be sure to check with the airport before charging guests for airport pickup even if you have a For-Hire permit, For-Hire driver’s license and registered For-Hire vehicle.
- Example: Anita wants to give her guests a ride to her experience kayaking around Lake Washington. Anita charges each guest $20 for the ride. Since Anita is charging guests to drive them in King County, she’ll need to obtain in advance a King County For-Hire permit and a For-Hire driver’s license. Also she will need to have her vehicle inspected, register her vehicle as a For-Hire vehicle, and obtain the commercial insurance for the vehicle.
The State of Washington has general Vehicle For Hire rules for any business that transports passengers for a fee in For-Hire vehicles, but these rules do not apply if a city or county has its own For-Hire rules. Should you provide a ride for a fee elsewhere in the State where that County or municipality does not have its own For-Hire permit regulations, you will require a State of Washington business license ($19), a For-Hire permit ($110)and to register your vehicle as a For-Hire vehicle ($55/vehicle) issued by the Business Licensing Service in Olympia, Washington. Here is the application. The State will send you your permit and vehicle certificate in 14 days.
How else can I help my guests get to and from my Experience?
How you handle your experience and your guest’s transportation needs is entirely up to you. You may choose to:
- Give them a ride for free,
- Charge them if you have the necessary licenses,
- Get them a Lyft, Uber, taxi, or other state licensed vehicle with a licensed driver. You can even pay for these licensed transportations options yourself and include the cost as part of your Experience Price.
- Ask your Guests to get their own transportation to and from your experience.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).