Start Your Own Local Tour Company: Vehicle And Licensing Requirements

A local tour company can be the perfect business, especially if you have the inside scoop on some of the special places in your city. Whether it's taking out groups to hit the best microbrews, or simply a sight-seeing tour through the countryside, transportation is the only thing you need to get your new company of the ground. It's not quite as simple as just buying a bus and hanging out your shingle, you must also get the correct licensing and education before you can safely show off your town to tourists.

Choose Your Mode of Transportation

The size and type of vehicle you use for your tours depends on your budget, what will work well in your location, and which vehicle types you are comfortable driving. Options include:

  • Old school buses. These work best when you plan to take out large tour groups on paved roads in low traffic areas.

  • Mini-buses. These smaller buses allow for smaller groups, but they are easier to handle and park in highly congested areas.

  • Limousines. If luxury tours are your thing, nothing beats a limo. They allow you to take out small groups but they can be difficult to maneuver through traffic.

  • Custom vehicles. These can range from a modified hearse for a haunted city tour, to a Hummer for an off-road tour.

Get the Proper License and Endorsements

Licensing requirements vary by state, but generally you will need a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). The class B CDL license allows you to drive passengers for commercial purposes, whether you do so in a small car or in a large school bus.

You will also need to get the proper endorsements on the license. Usually the passenger endorsement is suitable for a tour company, but check with your state requirements to ensure there are no other endorsements necessary. Obtaining a CDL with the proper endorsements will require a driving class and both a written and road test.

Consider Safety Training

Although not required in most states, further training can help you provide your customers with the best service. Being behind the wheel of a larger vehicle, especially while giving tour information to the passengers, is different than driving your family car.

Consider taking a defensive driving course for commercial drivers. These classes will train you on important skills, from simply learning how to properly adjust your mirrors to how to handle it when you run into difficulties on the road. Larger vehicles, such as buses and limos, are especially difficult to back up and turn around, so learning the best ways to handle these challenges and how to avoid these situations is worth the time and cost of the class. To learn more, visit Center For Transportation Safety