Vehicles for Hire Ordinance
An owner of a taxicab or limousine who does not operate the taxicab or limousine needs a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity before starting a cab or limousine services. An owner of a taxicab or limousine who is also going to operate the taxicab or limousine needs both a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and a Chauffeur’s License before he/she starts his/her taxicab or limousine services.
A taxicab is a motor vehicle equipped to carry less than 15 passengers, that engages in transporting passengers for hire, that has a Class C Taxi Certificate issued by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, that operates on any public street, road or highway in the City of Charleston on call or demand, accepting or soliciting passengers indiscriminately for hire between such points along such street, road or highway as may be directed by the passenger so being transported, and which remuneration is determined on a per trip basis. Taxicabs are required to operate with taxi license plates.
A limousine is a motor vehicle that can carry up to 15 passengers, that engages in transporting passengers for hire, that has a Class C Charter Certificate issued by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, that accepts passengers exclusively on a pre-arranged basis, which remuneration is determined on an hourly basis. Limousines are required to operate with limousine license plates.
Low-Speed Vehicle Operator
A Low-Speed Vehicle is defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle, other than an all-terrain vehicle, whose speed attainable in one mile is more than twenty miles an hour and not more than twenty-five miles an hour on a paved level surface, and whose gross vehicle weight rating is less than 3,000 pounds.
Pursuant to the city’s ordinances, low-speed vehicles and golf carts may not be used as limousines or taxicabs.
Before a taxicab or limousine can begin operating in the City of Charleston, it must first be licensed to do business in or use the streets of the city by the Traffic and Transportation Committee.
- Complete and submit an original Application for Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (PDF) to the Traffic and Transportation Department. Forms may be submitted via hand delivery or by mail:
Traffic and Transportation
180 Lockwood Boulevard
Charleston, SC 29403
- The Traffic and Transportation Department will review the application and approve or deny the request and notify the applicant.
- Approved applications will be placed on the Traffic and Transportation Department’s next committee meeting agenda for their consideration.
- If approved, the owner/operator must purchase the certificate of public convenience and necessity decal. The decal must be displayed on the rear windshield of every vehicle approved under the certificate of public convenience and necessity before operating the vehicle in the city. You can pick up the decal from the Revenue Collections Division located at:
2 George Street
Charleston, SC 29401
Change of Ownership
Any change of ownership of, or title to, any taxicab or limousine shall automatically revoke any certificate of public convenience and necessity previously granted for the operation of such taxicab or limousine, except that, with the approval of the Director of Traffic and Transportation, such certificates may be assigned to any company or individual which at such time holds other certificates of public convenience and necessity.
A change of ownership is deemed to have taken place in addition to other methods usually employed, if the owner of any taxicab or limousine leases the same to any person under any lease or other arrangements whereby such person shall have the right, upon the payment of an amount of money or other consideration, to acquire title to the taxicab or any other thing of value at any future date.
Taxicab & Chauffeur Driver’s Licenses Application
- No person shall drive a taxicab or limousine within the city without having obtained a taxicab driver’s permit and/or a chauffeur’s license from the Police Department.
- Complete and submit an original Taxicab and Chauffeur Driver’s License Application to the Police Department’s Administrative Support Division located at:
180 Lockwood Boulevard
Charleston, SC 29403
- The Police Department processes applications on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Permits expire on December 31 and must be renewed annually.
For more details, please contact the Police Department at 843-577-7434.
Up and until June 30, 2011, all charges for taxicab service shall be calculated either by taximeter rates or a flat fee. If a flat fee is used the driver shall communicate the flat fee to the passenger prior to departure. All taxicabs shall be equipped with taximeters by July 1, 2011, which shall display, in a conspicuous place the maximum fee that shall be charged to the passenger(s). After June 30, 2011, all vehicles equipped with a meter shall be required to activate the meter and charge no more than the maximum rates permitted by ordinance.
To review the maximum fares permitted to be charged please see the City of Charleston Vehicles for Hire Ordinance - See Chapter 31.
Compliments & Complaints
To file a compliment or complaint about the taxicab or limousine service you received, please email your comments to the City’s Livability Division.