The City of Ottawa’s Vehicle-for-Hire By-law (No. 2016-272) went into effect on September 30, 2016.
The by-law was developed after the Regulating Vehicles-for-Hire in the City of Ottawa - Taxis, Limousines and Private Transportation Companies report was approved by City Council on April 13, 2016. The report was preceded by extensive stakeholder and public consultations conducted in fall 2015.
The by-law incorporates modernized regulations to provide consumers with more transportation options, improved services, and increased consumer protection. Some of these include:
- required Police Records Check for Service with the Vulnerable Sector and a Statement of Driving Record
- a vehicle age limit of 10 years (exception for classic, vintage and specialty limousines)
- an annual MTO Safety Standards Certificate and biannual inspection certificate for all vehicles over five years of age
- a minimum of $5 million commercial general liability insurance (since reduced to $2 million) and $2 million motor vehicle insurance
The by-law incorporates modernized regulations so Ottawa’s traditional taxi industry can innovate and compete more freely with Private Transportation Companies. Some improvements include:
- eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee for clients
- allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fair for ride booked through app
- providing exclusive rights to taxis for street-hails and use of taxi stands
- retaining exclusivity for Para Transpo services
- allowing for nominal cancellation fees when trips are cancelled at the pick-up address
To modernize limousines the new regulations:
- establish an auxiliary service category that addresses other service models not in the current framework, such as special senior assistance services and “responsible choice”-type service
- refine the definition of limousine and realign vehicle features to ensure vehicles are “luxury” and are distinguished from other vehicles for hire
Private Transportation Companies (PTCs)
In addition to improvements to traditional taxi services, residents and visitors in Ottawa are now able to use PTCs with consumer protection.
Private transportation vehicles cannot accept cash payments or pick up passengers via on-street hails or at taxi stands. Rides can only be pre-arranged through a booking and purchase through an app. Records of all trips are provided to the City and the City can audit companies to ensure all safety standards and other requirements are being met.
Vehicle-for-Hire Accessibility Fund
Council delegated to the General Manager, Emergency and Protective Services (EPS), the authority to negotiate, finalize and execute the establishment of a voluntary per-trip surcharge for accessibility to be paid by licensed Private Transportation Companies (PTCs), with any funds received from the surcharge to be directed to a dedicated reserve fund.
Council approved the Vehicle-for-Hire Accessibility Fund - Allocation Plan report on March 27, 2019. Uber and Lyft voluntarily contribute $0.07 per trip to the Accessibility Fund and Voluntary accessibility surcharges will be negotiated with any new PTCs operating in Ottawa. The allocation of funds generated from the fund will be allocated to provide support for non-profit and community agencies to expand accessible transportation in rural areas, reduce the cost of taxi coupons and increase the number of taxi coupons per customer.
The General Manager of Emergency and Protective Services was directed to re-negotiate the accessibility surcharge, as was reported in the Re-negotiation of the Voluntary Vehicle-for-Hire Accessibility Surcharge to the Community and Protective Services Committee on June 17, 2021 an increased Voluntary Per-Trip Surcharge of $0.10 took effect on July 1, 2020.
Taxicab drivers, plates and brokers
A taxicab driver's licence and a taxi plate are required to operate a taxicab in the City of Ottawa.
A taxi plate is a numbered metal plate issued by the City and affixed to the taxicab.
- Standard taxicab driver: $155
- Accessible taxicab driver: $0
- Taxi plate holder: $633
- Taxicab broker - 1 to 24 taxicabs: $911
- Taxicab broker - 25 - 99 taxicabs: $2,674
- Taxicab broker - 100 and more taxicabs: $7,751
- Standard or Accessible Taxicab Driver having no less than 10 years’ experience as a licensed taxicab driver in the City of Ottawa, whose licence has lapsed and who wishes to re-apply for a new licence (in addition to all other fees): $373
These licences expire annually on April 30.
- Usually issued on intake*
*Stated timelines are approximate and may be longer due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Applicant must be over the age of 18
- Application Form
- A valid class "G" licence from the Province of Ontario or the equivalent license from the Province of Quebec
- A statement of driving record (driver's abstract) no older than 30 days from the Province of Ontario
- An original police records check for the vulnerable sector no older than 90 days for a new driver, six months for a renewing driver (only on applicable years)
- A declaration signed by the applicant confirming he or she does not have any current outstanding criminal charges or warrants pending before any courts.
- must have completed the accessible taxicab training program within two years before applying for the taxicab licence
- satisfactory proof that the applicant does not have a driver's licence under suspension in any province or territory.
Please refer to Part II of the Vehicle For Hire By-law (No. 2016-272) in its entirety prior to applying to ensure you meet all requirements and conditions.
Applicants must bring all the original documentation detailed in the by-law, at the same time, to be processed.
Failing to disclose charges, warrants and/or fines can result in criminal charges, fines and/or the suspension or termination of licenses.
Who to contact
Business Licensing Centre - 613-580-2424 ext. 44150
Where to apply
Limousine Service Licensing
A limousine service licence is required for a business providing pre-arranged passenger ground transportation services utilizing limousines.
An auxiliary service category has also been created to permit specialty services such as senior assistance services and responsible-choice services to help prevent drinking and driving
- The licensing fee for a Limousine Service operator is $1,054. Operator licences expire annually on August 31.
- For each vehicle registered, the licensee must pay $633. Vehicle licences expire annually on August 31. This fee does not apply to auxiliary service vehicles.
- For each temporary limousine registered, the licensee must pay $116. The expiry date will be indicated on the certificate.
- The fee to transfer a licence is $55.00.
- The fee to change the name of the licensee is $55.00.
- The fee to change the location of the licensee is $104.00.
- The fee to register a replacement vehicle is $55.00.
- 3 weeks*
*Timelines are approximate and may be longer due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Application form PDF opens in a new tab or window
- Please refer to Vehicle-for-Hire By-law 2016-272 for specific details
Who to contact
Business Licensing Centre – 613-580-2424 ext. 12735
Where to apply
Private Transportation Company Licensing
Private Transportation Company License
Every person who owns or operates a Private Transportation Company shall obtain a PTC licence under the Vehicle For Hire By-law.
A Private Transportation Company is any person or business that offers, facilitates, or operates prearranged transportation services for compensation, form a point in the City of Ottawa to any point within or beyond the City of Ottawa, using any software or application or telecommunications platform or digital network to connect passengers with PTC Drivers, excluding a licensed taxicab using an app.
While Part IV of the Vehicle for Hire By-law, defines the licensing requirements for drivers, it is the responsibility of the Private Transportation Company to license and administer their own drivers. To inquire about becoming a driver, please contact the company directly.
- PTC – 1 to 24 affiliated vehicles: $911 + $0.11/trip*
- PTC – 25 to 99 affiliated vehicles: $2,674 + $0.11/trip
- PTC – 100 or more affiliated vehicles: $7,751 + $0.11/trip*
* An 11-cent accessibility surcharge is added to all trips.
This licence is non-transferable and expires annually on September 30.
- 3 weeks**
**Timelines are approximate and may be longer due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Application form
- Individual applicants must be 18 years of age or older
- If the application is a corporation, they must provide proof that the corporation is legally entitled to conduct business in Ontario, including:
- Letters of incorporation of other incorporating documents, duly certified by the proper government official or department of the Province of Ontario or Government of Canada
- A certified copy of an annual return which contains a list of all shareholders of the corporation
- Provide proof of insurance
- Please refer to Vehicle-for-Hire By-law 2016-272 for additional requirements
Who to contact
Business Licensing Centre – 613-580-2424 ext. 44150
Where to apply
What passengers need to know
Taxis and other private transportation companies are an important part of Ottawa’s transportation network. The City of Ottawa licenses and regulates taxi and private transportation companies to ensure passenger and driver safety, as well as accessibility and quality of service.
Ottawa’s more than 1,100 licensed taxis, including nearly 200 accessible vehicles, are driven by over 2,000 licensed drivers who provide service 24/7, 365 days a year.
Taxi meter rates are set by the City in order to protect consumers. In the absence of these regulations, passengers would largely not be in a position to assess a fair price given the variable nature of the service in terms of both distance and quality of vehicle and driver.
In addition to traditional taxi services, Ottawa has embraced emerging ‘ride-sharing’ services, such as Uber and Lyft, to provide residents and visitors with more transportation options while still ensuring public safety and accountability.
The City of Ottawa would like to highlight to residents and visitors the safety and service benefits of using licensed transportation providers.
Unlicensed transportation providers
Using unlicensed transportation providers is risky and is strongly discouraged by the City of Ottawa.
With unlicensed providers, there is no restitution if you are overcharged or receive poor service, nor is there any guarantee of vehicle insurance and drivers are not screened for prior criminal activity.
Use a taxicab licensed by the City of Ottawa, which currently includes:
Blue Line Taxi Co. Ltd
455 Coventry Rd., Ottawa, ON K1K 2C5
263 Hannah St., Vanier, ON K1L 7N1
11 Bentley Ave., Nepean, ON K2E 6T7
979 Pleasant Park Rd., Ottawa, ON K1G 1Z6
How to recognize a licensed taxicab
Outside look for a:
- Number taxi plate on the right side of the rear bumper
- Roof sign indicating the taxi company and taxi plate number
Inside look for:
- The 'Rights and responsibilities for taxi drivers and taxi passengers' clearly displayed
- City of Ottawa driver identification card with photo and driver number
- City of Ottawa tariff card listing fees
- Taximeter with City of Ottawa seal
In addition, licensed taxis must have debit/credit card machines for customer convenience and in-car security cameras to protect drivers and passengers.
Some driver responsibilities include:
- Providing courteous service to passengers
- Taking the most direct route to the destination unless directed otherwise by the passenger
- Keeping the taxi clean, tidy and scent free
- Charging fares according to the tariff card with rate calculated by taxicab meter
- Agree to transport a service animal unless allergic and if unable to transport ensure another cab is immediately dispatched
Reporting service quality:
- Compliments will be passed on to the taxi driver if the driver is properly identified
- Complaints will result in a proper investigation and may in turn improve taxi service
- Report your experience as soon as possible by calling the City at 3-1-1
- Facts like the car number, driver number, location of pick-up and time of day will help officials track the driver. Better yet ask for a receipt.
Licensed Private Transportation Companies (PTCs)
For your own safety, only use a Private Transportation Company Driver that has been booked by an app – never accept a ride from a driver off the street.
The following are private transportation companies licensed for operation within the City of Ottawa:
PTC vehicle identification
Outside look for:
- Colour and licence plate matching the description provided by the app you ordered the ride from.
Inside look for:
- An identification card from the company verifying that individual driving is the same driver identified by the app. The card should have the picture of the driver, first and last name, name and contact information of the PTC company and, make, model and license plate number.
Some driver’s responsibilities include:
- Only accepting passengers who have requested service through the app, no street hailing or use of taxi stands is allowed
- Charging fares only through the app, cash payments are not allowed. Tips are allowed and are entirely at the passenger’s discretion
Reporting service quality
Any compliment or complaint concerning a service must be sent to the company in question. Complaints can also be directed to 3-1-1.
Taxicab security cameras
Notice to individuals – collection of personal information
Personal information, in the form of images recorded by the taxicab security cameras, is collected for the security of all taxicab occupants — both drivers and passengers — under the authority of s. 9, 10, 11 and 151 of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.25, as amended, and pursuant to s. 39 of the Vehicle-for-Hire By-law (No. 2016-272).
The recorded images will only be downloaded by authorized representatives of the Ottawa Police Service and used by them for the purposes of law enforcement where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a Criminal Code offence has or will take place in or about a taxicab. Information obtained from the recorded images may be disclosed by the Ottawa Police Service to the City of Ottawa’s Chief Licence Inspector, where the disclosure is required in compelling circumstances affecting the health and safety of the taxicab operator or of a member for the public.
Questions about the specifications and operation of the taxicab security camera system, or use of the personal information by the City, may be directed to: Program Manager, Licensing Administration and Enforcement, By-law and Regulatory Services Branch, City of Ottawa, by mail at 735 Industrial Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 5J1, or by telephone at 613-580-2424, ext. 44150.
Questions regarding the downloading, use and disclosure of the personal information by the Ottawa Police Service may be directed to: Staff Sergeant, Forensic Identification Section, Ottawa Police Service, by mail at P.O. Box 9634, Station T, Ottawa, ON, K1G 6H5, or by telephone at 613-236-1222, ext. 5320.
Notice to PTC drivers: Indirect collection of personal information
The City of Ottawa’s Vehicle-for-Hire By-law (No. 2016-272) requires Private Transportation Companies (PTCs) in Ottawa to obtain a license from the City and to comply with prescribed regulations.
In addition, the Vehicle-for-Hire By-law also requires PTC drivers to comply with specific regulations, such as having an acceptable driving history and police record check, and having appropriate automobile liability insurance as set out in the by-law. Under the by-law, PTC drivers are prohibited from picking-up fares at taxi stands or by “street hailing”, and must be affiliated with a licensed PTC when providing transportation services, among other requirements.
A Private Transportation Company (PTC) is a person, corporation, or other entity that offers, facilitates, or operates prearranged transportation services for compensation in Ottawa using an app, software, telecommunications platform or digital network to connect passengers with drivers and vehicles (a PTC does not include a licensed taxicab using an app). A PTC driver is an individual who is affiliated with a PTC to transport passengers for compensation using a PTC vehicle. A PTC vehicle is a motor vehicle with a capacity for six passengers (plus the driver) that is used by a PTC driver to provide transportation services that are offered or facilitated by the PTC.
The Vehicle-for-Hire By-law is passed by City Council under to its authority to enact by-laws for the health, safety and well being of persons, and for the protection of persons and property, including consumer protection, in addition to its business licensing powers, as permitted by paragraphs 6, 8 and 11 of Subsection 10(2) and Section 151of the Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.25. In addition, pursuant to Subsection 8(3) of the Municipal Act, 2001, City Council may regulate or prohibit vehicles-for-hire and their drivers, and may require a person involved with vehicles-for-hire to do certain things.
Indirect collection of information
In accordance with Section 145 of the Vehicle-for-Hire By-law, the Chief License Inspector of the City of Ottawa collects from the licensed PTC the following information:
- the name and address of every driver affiliated with the PTC;
- the make, model, colour, and license plate of every vehicle affiliated with the PTC; and
- confirmation from the PTC that every affiliated driver meets the requirements of the by-law (a drivers licence, proof of an acceptable statement of driving record and police record check, a declaration of no outstanding Criminal Code charges or warrants, and proof of required automobile liability insurance).
The information noted above is collected by the Chief License Inspector or his delegates in the By-law and Regulatory Services Branch for the purposes of by-law enforcement, and will be used by authorized staff to investigate and enforce compliance with the by-law, including the conducting of by-law investigations and by-law inspections as required, which could lead to proceedings before the City of Ottawa’s Property Standards and License Appeals Committee or a court of competent jurisdiction from which penalties or sanctions may be imposed.
In accordance with Section 146 of the Vehicle-for-Hire By-law, the Chief License Inspector of the City of Ottawa may also require a licensed PTC to provide any record or information that the PTC is required to obtain or verify under the by-law, including information about PTC drivers and PTC vehicles noted above. The collection by the Chief License Inspector of these records or information will occur only on a case-by-case basis for the purposes of investigating and enforcing compliance with the Vehicle-for-Hire By-law.
Contact for questions and further information
Requests for information about the Vehicle-for-Hire By-law, and questions about the collection and use by the City of Ottawa of the above-noted information, may be directed to: Chief License Inspector, By-law and Regulatory Services Branch, City of Ottawa, by mail at 735 Industrial Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5M7, or by telephone at 613-580-2424, ext. 44150.