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Dispatch Service Provider - FAQ

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What is a Dispatch Service Provider (DSP)?

A Dispatch Service Provider (DSP) is a type of TLC-licensed entity that connects passengers to TLC-licensed drivers of for-hire vehicles (FHVs). A DSP works with a TLC-licensed base under the terms of a written agreement to dispatch FHVs affiliated with that base. DSPs can dispatch vehicles using their own brand name, rather than using a base’s brand name. On the other hand, a proprietary booking tool is a base’s in-house app or website used to dispatch vehicles that use the base’s branding. It is operated by the base itself and thus not considered a DSP.

What is the difference between an FHV base license and a DSP license?

A DSP, like a base, is a type of TLC-licensed dispatching company that is held to the same safety, transparency, accountability, and availability principles as a TLC-licensed base. However, in exchange for less flexibility around which drivers and vehicles they work with, DSPs do not have to meet as many requirements as bases do in order to get a license. For example, DSPs do not have to affiliate a minimum number of vehicles, maintain parking for affiliated livery vehicles, and pay into a workers’ compensation fund because they are working with existing bases that already meet those requirements. Since DSPs are not taking on these additional responsibilities, they can only work with vehicles that are affiliated with their partner bases where bases can work with any vehicle of the same class (e.g. black car or livery), regardless of the vehicle individual base affiliation.

At the same time, DSPs, like bases, must meet important consumer protection requirements, such as maintaining privacy and security policies, providing passengers with identifying information about the TLC licensee(s) servicing a trip, and giving passengers an opportunity to request an estimate of the total fare if a price multiplier is in effect. For more information about the requirements for each type of license, see rules addressing Bases and Dispatch Service Providers.

Why did TLC create this new license category?

Since 2011, TLC has required that companies offering for-hire dispatching services either 1) obtain a base license, or 2) enter into agreements with existing licensed bases to dispatch trips to drivers on behalf of those bases. Companies operating under the second model did not hold a TLC license, leading to issues of accountability. If these companies caused bases or drivers to violate TLC Rules, TLC’s only recourse was to hold the bases and drivers accountable rather than holding the dispatching company responsible since they did not hold a TLC license. Licensing DSPs closes this accountability gap and ensures that all companies connecting passengers to TLC-licensees adhere to important safety, transparency, accountability, and availability principles.

My base operates with a proprietary booking tool. Do I need a DSP license?

No, your base is not required to obtain a DSP license if you are operating an app or other booking tool that dispatches trips using your base’s brand name or public-facing name. However, all bases are subject to enhanced service standards that were enacted when the DSP license was created. For more information regarding these new standards, see the New Requirements for the Licensed Bases page.

Does a DSP need an agreement with a base to dispatch that base’s affiliated vehicles?

Yes, a DSP needs a written agreement with a base if they want to dispatch the base’s affiliated vehicles. A sample agreement must be filed with the TLC along with a list of all bases with which a DSP has an agreement.

Who is responsible for notifying the TLC that an agreement exists between a DSP and a base?

The DSP is responsible for filing the list of agreements it has with bases to dispatch their affiliated vehicles with the TLC. However, if a base notifies the TLC that it has begun working with a new DSP (s), it will need to provide the TLC with the name of the DSP(s) and the TLC will follow up with the DSP to confirm the affiliation relationship and provide a copy of the dispatching agreement.

Can a DSP enter into agreements with more than one base?

Yes, a DSP can work with any number of bases so long as it has entered into a written agreement with each base.

How can I apply for a DSP license?

Companies that want to get a DSP license will need to file an application with TLC’s Licensing division. Please visit the DSP Application Page to learn about the application requirements and instructions on how to apply for a license.

How much does a DSP license cost?

The fee for a new or renewal three-year DSP License is $1,000. Please visit the DSP Application Page to learn about the application requirements and instructions on how to apply for a license.

What if I am a dispatching vehicles and don’t have a DSP or base license?

All companies that connect passengers with FHV drivers will be required to get either a DSP or a base license. TLC will work with companies that need a DSP license to help them understand the requirements and file the necessary paperwork and testing. Failure to obtain the necessary licenses to operate for-hire service may subject you to enforcement for unlicensed activity.

How will I know if a base or DSP is licensed by the TLC?

TLC posts lists of current licensees daily on our website here. You can check a base or DSP’s license status using those lists.

Base FAQs

I am a licensed TLC Base. How do the DSP Rules affect me?

The DSP Rules establish new service requirements that apply to all bases to further meet TLC’s safety, transparency, accountability, and availability goals.Please visit the New Requirements for TLC-Licensed Bases to learn more.

When will bases have to comply with these rules?

All bases will need to demonstrate compliance with these rules. TLC is currently initiating a compliance timeframe and will be reaching out to all bases accordingly..

What is the difference between a base’s proprietary booking tool and a DSP’s services?

A DSP is an entity that dispatches licensed TLC drivers and vehicles on behalf of licensed TLC bases, and using a distinct brand name different than the names of the bases for which it provides dispatch services. A proprietary booking tool is a base’s in-house app or website used to dispatch vehicles that uses the base’s branding. It is operated by the base itself.

Are there any changes to the current license/renewal fees for bases?

No. Base license and renewal fees remain unchanged. Please visit the licensing page to learn more about base application requirements and instructions on how to apply for a license.

What is TLC looking for in the privacy and security policies?

A base is responsible for developing its own privacy and security policies in accordance with industry best practices. At a minimum, privacy and security policies should address what customer information is collected, how that information is used, guidelines for how that information can be accessed internally, how that information is kept secure, and how the information is retained.

Can a base work with more than one DSP?

Yes. Bases can work with as many DSPs as they like, as long as there is a written agreement between the two companies, and any fees that the DSP charges passengers are reflected in the base’s rate schedule.

  • Do you have an agreement with one or more DSPs to dispatch FHVs on your behalf?

    • If you answered yes, you will need to let the TLC know that you work with one or more DSPs to dispatch FHVs. You will also need to provide the TLC with the name of the DSP(s) that you work with.
    • If no, you do not need to do anything additional.

Does working with a DSP change any of my existing obligations as a TLC-licensed base?

No, bases that work with DSPs are still required to comply with all base requirements, including submitting trip records, paying workers’ comp and taxes, and offering wheelchair accessible service.

I am a licensed TLC Driver. How do the DSP Rules affect me?

Licensed TLC drivers must still affiliate their vehicles with a TLC-licensed base, and are still free to accept dispatches from any TLC-licensed base that is of the same class as the base to which their vehicle is affiliated (i.e. a driver of a black car can accept dispatches from any black car base). In addition, licensed TLC drivers can also accept dispatches from a licensed DSP, if the DSP has an agreement with the base to which their vehicle is affiliated. Drivers who want to know whether a DSP is licensed and whether the DSP has affiliated with a particular base can check the TLC’s current licensee lists here to view that information.

What is a Partner Base?

A Partner Base is a base that has entered into an agreement with a Dispatch Service Provider (DSP) for the provision of dispatch services and appears on the list of Partner Bases the DSP files with the TLC.