Where (and Why) is Rideshare Banned?
Uber may be the highest-valued rideshare company in the world, but it’s also the most controversial.
Despite its widespread success, the company’s path to total-market domination is still very bumpy — many countries (and large metropolitan areas) around the world are still highly resistant to rideshare adoption, wishing to protect local taxi and transportation industries.
Many governments fear the impact of a new rapidly-emerging ‘‘gig economy’’ model — a system which threatens to upend established labor practices and disrupt ‘traditional’ forms of employment.
Since Uber doesn’t act as a normal car-hire service — instead, it gives non-professional drivers an opportunity to work part or full-time as paid chauffeurs — it threatens existing job-markets associated with professional car-hire companies and taxi unions. So, while ridesharing continues to be widely embraced by consumers around the world, ridesharing itself still confronts a variety of legal and regulatory challenges in many jurisdictions.
Some regions have banned the service completely — declaring it wholly illegal under state or federal law. Other regions — such as Germany and France — currently block lower-end rideshare services (like UberPOP), but allow higher-end options (like UberBLACK and UberLUX). The company’s legality is sometimes even challenged on a micro level, in local municipalities — such as small communities like East Hampton, NY or Panama City Beach, Florida — which have declared the service illegal.
Uber’s legality — and its activity-level in various regions — obviously varies greatly in different countries.
For your convenience, below is a list of Uber (and rideshare’s) current status in a variety of countries:
Rideshare banning in The United States
Anchorage — Suspended.
Uber has been indefinitely suspended in Anchorage since 2015.
Auburn — Suspended.
Uber suspended its Auburn operations in 2015 (due to ”burdensome” regulations), but there is speculation that the company (and other ridesharing services) will return to Auburn in Spring 2016.
Panama City Beach — Suspended.
Entire state — Banned.
A temporary injunction was filed against Uber in 2014 (over failure to gain proper permits), as well as government authorities claiming that Uber’s driver-hiring process was not selective enough to ensure consumer safety. Uber shut down its Nevada operations in 2014, but finally re-started operations after gaining legal permission in Fall 2015.
Uber is effectively banned in East Hampton, due to local rules requiring licenses and company offices to be located in-city.
Austin — Referendum in progress.
San Antonio — Suspended.
Legal status of Rideshare in other countries, A-Z.
Uber’s legality in Australia varies by state —
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Uber is legal in Australia, but its legality is currently being debated by governmental agencies (first quarter 2016). UberX is being introduced in the Australian Capital Territory, in a multi-stage rollout, with oversight from regulatory agencies.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Legal and currently operating.
Illegal and Banned
Under review — currently legal, but undergoing regulatory changes. Government attempting to require rideshare to apply for commercial licenses.
Under legal review (but operating nonetheless).
RIO DE JANIERO
Initial efforts by the city of Rio de Janeiro to stifle a number of ride sharing options were reversed by Brazil’s courts. Strong unionized taxi organizations continue to demonstrate against rideshare companies. In some cases this has led to violent altercations amongst drivers. Currently, in 2016, the ridesharing situation in Brazil is fluid — services exist but their legality is under question. It is unclear whether Uber’s legality will be resolved in time for Rio’s Olympic Games.
Brazil’s second largest city, Sao Paulo, has tried unsuccessfully to ban non-taxi rideshare options. Uber has filed a complaint against Brazilian taxi organizations for being non-competitive, which the non- competition bureau of the government is assessing. Currently, in 2016, rideshare services are operating openly in Sao Paolo.
Ridesharing was officially legalized in Edmonton in January 2016 (the law functionally came into effect on 1 March, 2016). Uber ended their operations in Edmonton March 1, 2016 (they stated that they were unable to acquire proper commercial insurance). However, Uber operates in many areas outside Edmonton (despite a lack of licensing), and a new company called TappCar aims to offer a local alternative.
Uber is currently legal in Toronto, but is facing strong opposition from taxi unions.
VANCOUVER (BRITISH COLUMBIA)
Uber is currently illegal and non-operational in Vancouver.
Uber is technically illegal in Hong Kong, but operates legally inside the country’s many other large cities. It faces fierce competition from rival Chinese rideshare firm Didi Kauidi, and is currently losing $1 billion a year, which might force the company to gradually decrease its presence in the country.
Uber officially arrived in Croatia October, 2015 — it is now possible (and legal) to request an Uber in the country.
As of March 2016, Uber currently operates in Denmark. The service is very controversial — taxi unions have been protestingUber’s operation for two years, and a Danish official declared (in 2014) that Uber’s business model contradicted Danish safety and regulatory codes.
Uber is ‘functionally illegal’ in Finland (i.e., Uber drivers can be reported to police), although there are reports that a limited verion of the service is in operation.
Uber operates in France, but is highly controversial. In 2015, violent protests by taxi drivers brought international attention to Uber’s presence in the country, and UberPOP has since been banned. Currently, in 2016, French authorities allow higher-end ridesharing services to operate (i.e. drivers with commercial licenses), but authorities frequently ticket rideshare drivers and maintain that all operators be commercially licensed and possess proper insurance.
Although it has been twice-banned in the country, Uber currently operates in Germany — although it no longer exists under the moniker UberPOP. It is now referred to as UberX (like in the United States). Since UberX resembles a professional car service more than UberPOP (which functioned as a lower-end ridesharing system) it is more aligned with German transportation regulations. As of 2016, UberX operates legally in Germany.
Uber operates throughout India, and is particularly popular in Delhi. Uber recently suspended its high-end options in India (UberBLACK and UberLUX), but only because they proved unpopular The company is constantly undergoing new legal evaluation in India, but is currently not banned by authorities.
Uber currently operates in Italy (and is especially popular in Rome), but is under review by authorities, who are threatening to tax it as an ordinary car service.
In the Summer of 2015, Uber officially discontinued its low-cost UberPOP option in The Netherlands. However, higher-end services UberX and UberBLACK continue to operate in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and The Hague
Uber is under review in Norway, where its legality remains unclear as of 2016. Rideshare services exist in the country, but drivers are subject to ticketing, and arrest.
Uber and similar services were legalized in the Philippines in Summer 2015, after gaining a new transportation classification from the government.
Uber operates in Poland, but is expected to come under increasing pressure from authorities in 2016.
As of the first quarter of 2016, Uber is currently illegal in Romania.
In 2016, Uber is operating legally in Russia (it is especially popular in St. Petersburg and Moscow), though it is less popularthan the Russia-based car-hailing service Yandex (named in affiliation with Russian search-engine giant Yandex). Gett — a popular black-car service throughout Europe — is also a major competitor to Uber in Russia.
Uber currently operates in South Africa (specifically, Johannesburg and Cape Town), but its future operation is threatened by aggressive pushback from local taxi unions.
South Korean authorities have banned all rideshare options in the Summer of 2015, and the law currently remains in effect in 2016.
Uber was officially banned in Spain in 2014, but — in late 2015 — the company announced its intention to restructure its business model to fit Spanish regulations. As of Spring 2016, the service is still banned in the country.
Switzerland – the city of Geneva banned Uber in 2015, but it remains available in Lausanne and Zurich although established taxi services continue to protest and seek bans in those cities.
Uber currently operates in Taiwan, although — in late 2015 — the country began attempting to halt the company’s expansion (and even stop its operation completely) by imposing increasingly-large fines. So far, however, ridesharing companies continue to operate openly in Taiwan.
Thailand currently only allows rideshare drivers to operate in Phuket and Bangkok, and — in Uber’s case — has limited available services to UberX and UberBLACK.
Uber currently operates in the United Kingdom. The service is legal, but is currently facing strong opposition from black cab drivers (who have introduced a competitive app called Cab: App, which offers an alternative booking system for commercial cabs). UK-based ridesharing services may come under government review in 2016.
*Disclaimer: always check with your local transportation authorities for up-to-date answers on whether ridesharing is legal in your region.