Uber and Lyft drivers need to obtain business licenses in order to drive in SF

If you’re a driver for Lyft and/or Uber, and drive in San Francisco seven or more days a year, the city requires you to obtain a business license, the SF Chronicle reported today.

“We have serious concerns with the City’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database,” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “People in San Francisco, who are choosing to drive with Lyft to help make ends meet, shouldn’t have to compromise their privacy in order to share a ride.”

Drivers will be notified of this via a letter from San Francisco City Treasurer José Cisneros, the Chronicle reports, which will be sent to 37,018 drivers today, Monday and Tuesday. If every one of those people register, the city will stand to make $3.37 million a year.

“I take seriously my obligation to fairly implement San Francisco’s business registration requirements,” Treasurer Cisneros said in a release. “I urge all the people receiving this notice, and all unregistered businesses operating in San Francisco to take prompt action to come into compliance immediately.”

The licenses will cost drivers, who have somehow been identified as a driver for either Uber or Lyft, $91 a year if they make $100,000 or less in gross receipts. For those who have driven for several years, they will have to backpay the registration fees.

Drivers must register for the license via the city’s online business registration system within 30 days. Every driver will have to display a current registration certificate in their car. If drivers don’t get a business license, they will be at risk of fines and other penalties.

This is all happening in part because Uber and Lyft have contended that their drivers are not employees, but independent contractors running their own businesses.

“Uber partners with entrepreneurial drivers and as independent contractors, they are responsible for following appropriate local requirements,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.