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Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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PFHT Program FAQ's

Permitting Requirements Private For-Hire Transportation Program (PFHT)

Increased penalties for operating without driver, vehicle or company permits in the City of Portland


What types of vehicles are regulated and are required to have permits?

Taxicabs, TNCs (Currently Lyft, Wingz, and Uber),  executive sedans, limousines, tour vehicles, shuttles, pedicabs, horse-drawn carriages, non-emergency medical transportation vehicles, and generally all for-hire transportation vehicles under 26,000 gvw.


What types of vehicles are currently exempt from City code requirements?

Government vehicles are exempt as are vehicles regulated entirely by the State of Oregon or Federal Government over 26,000 gvw.  Emergency Medical Transportation providers, such as Ambulances.   Non-emergency medical transportation providers from well outside the Portland Metropolitan area may be exempt from many code requirements, however, they do still need to be registered with the City of Portland, as evidenced by a placard displayed in their vehicle.


What types of permits are required to pick up passengers in Portland?

Companies picking up in Portland, which includes Portland International Airport, need a company permit, and a permit for each vehicle. All drivers are also required to have a valid City of Portland PFHT driver permit.


What is the purpose of permitting the driver separately from the company?

The reason primarily is public safety.  Prior to being issued a permit, each driver has their criminal background and driving history reviewed and passes a written test quizzing the drivers on routes and locations of common destinations, customer service, City regulations and map reading.  In addition, documentation of driver safety and customer service training is required for each permitted driver. 


What is the purpose of requiring permits for companies and vehicles?

Important consumer protections are provided by the permitting process.  During the initial application as well as yearly permit renewal, City staff checks that auto and general liability insurance is current; we review mechanical vehicle inspections and require repair invoices if necessary. Visual inspections of the vehicles help ensure cleanliness and overall good exterior and interior condition.  We maintain records on all permitted companies and vehicles so that we can better investigate consumer complaints.  City staff conducts periodic audits for compliance of these requirements which protect the public.


Is there any exemption for companies that are located outside of Portland, or outside the State of Oregon?

No.  Permitting requirements are not related to where the company is located.   Conducting business means “operating a for-hire vehicle or company, receiving money or other compensation from the use of a for-hire vehicle, causing or allowing another person to do the same, or advertising the same.” (Portland City Code 16.40.010J)  Permits are required for drivers, companies and vehicles if passengers are picked up within the City of Portland, which includes Portland International Airport, even if a company is located outside Portland, reservations are taken in an office outside Portland, or payments are received in an office outside Portland.


If I drive my passengers from Washington State to a destination within Portland, and the passengers get out in Portland for a meal or a show, and then return to my vehicle, and we drive back to Washington State, do I need a permit to pick up those passengers in Portland?

Yes. Companies who advertise on their websites and through other means that they are available to pick up passengers (or start a trip) within Portland city limits, need to be permitted.  These operations require City of Portland driver, vehicle, and company permits.  If a company only brings passengers from Washington, or another state, and back, they may be eligible for an exemption from Portland permitting requirements, but there are specific requirements for meeting permit requirements in the home state, as well as other equivalent requirements, like insurance.  

If you believe your company is eligible for this exemption, you are strongly urged to contact Mark Williams, Acting Private for-Hire Transportation Division Manager; before you operate your vehicle in Portland.  Exemption requirements can be complex, and we advise against risking arrest, penalties or towing, prior to checking the specific requirements for your company.


Am I OK if I have a driver permit?

No, a permit to drive a for-hire vehicle, while required, is not enough.  The company and the vehicle must also have valid permits.


How can I tell if a taxi, TNC, town car, shuttle, limousine, tour company, pedicab or pedal tour vehicle has City permits?

All permitted companies, other than SATs (Specially Attended Transportation or non-emergency medical transportation under agency contract) are listed on the City website.  Taxi vehicles and pedicab vehicles have a city plate on the back of the vehicle. Taxi plates are white with red lettering.  Pedicab permits are white with black lettering.  Limousines, shuttles, town cars and tour vehicles have a sticker on the front passenger side windshield, and a sticker on the back of the vehicle, usually near the license plate.  Taxi drivers are required to display their driver permit in plain view of their passengers. All other drivers must show you their permit upon request. TNC drivers (Currently Uber and Lyft) are required to show you proof of insurance on their phone. They can also show you a waybill on their phone, proving that they are permitted to pick you up.  When the driver accepts your ride request, you will be given information about the driver and the vehicle. Make sure they match before entering the vehicle.