The red carpet has been rolled back on the ride-share service.
Eighty-one percent of millennials say they prefer ride-share services to traditional taxis, but not everyone welcomes them with the same gusto. In fact, while Uber has emerged as the most popular ride app by volume, the company has been banned—or has voluntarily suspended service—in dozens of cities and countries. Just the fact that an “Uber protests and legal actions” Wikipedia page exists should tell you enough.
Among a recent spate of bad press for the Silicon Valley darling, news in March that Uber had been “greyballing” local authorities—essentially blocking them from the app—spotlighted the main sticking point for regulators: Uber pays its drivers as independent contractors, not as employees. As The New York Times put it, “Uber has long flouted laws and regulations to gain an edge against entrenched transportation providers,” which has earned the company “a valuation close to $70 billion.” That’s nothing to swipe at. Given how essential that designation is to the company’s business model, Uber has already agreed to shell out more than $100 million to keep it that way, too—even though it claims to have ended its “greyballing” days.
But since you’re here to find out exactly where Uber isn’t available—whether it was kicked out or took its leave—here’s a breakdown of Uber bans and suspensions around the world.
Austin, Texas In all likelihood, you live in the U.S. if you’re reading this. So far, Uber has been banned in a handful of cities, with Austin, Texas being the most visible. In reality, Uber wasn’t banned in Austin; the company pulled out of the market entirely in May 2016 after a ballot initiative failed that would have allowed the company to conduct its own fingerprint and background checks of drivers. That’s the common refrain for when Uber service stops in a given market: Local or state regulators want Uber to play by the same rules as taxi companies, and Uber pulls out.
Alaska While Anchorage recently passed legislation to relax laws governing Uber and competitor Lyft, neither service operates in the state after the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development disputed drivers’ classification as independent contractors without workers’ compensation insurance, according to Alaska Dispatch News. Uber paid a $77,925 fine to settle the dispute, but pulled out of the state altogether.
Oregon (except Portland) While there are plenty of things to see and do outside of Portland, taking an Uber is not one of them. The company and its main rival, Lyft, operate in Portland after the city changed its laws to allow them to operate there, as The Oregonian reports, but they’re still not available in the rest of the Beaver State.
Over the last five years, Uber has fought legal battles in almost 20 states over the legality of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and how they stack up against traditional taxi services when it comes to regulation. But for now, riding in other people’s cars is legal just about everywhere stateside.
Uber is available in most of Canada after a slew of ordinance and law changes that have allowed ride shares across the northern neighbor. But there’s one big holdout: Vancouver, British Columbia, doesn’t have Uber. British Columbia’s Liberal Party has brought the issue to the forefront, The Vancouver Sun reports, saying if they win elections in May, they’ll legalize ride-share apps by Christmas.
Bulgaria Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court made the TNC shut down in October 2015, with the country’s parliament saying “taxi services may be rendered only by registered carriers with certificates of registration.”
Denmark While Danes have been hailing rides since December 2014, they hailed their last just this week, after the passing of new laws “making taxi meters mandatory for drivers and imposing other requirements that meant Uber could no longer operate there,” according to Fortune.
Hungary If you listen closely, you can hear an echo: Uber launched in Hungary in about 2.5 years ago, and pulled out in July 2016 after the Hungarian government passed legislation saying “its drivers breach regulations other taxis firms must adhere to.”
Italy The most recent addition to the list, Italy banned Uber in April, finding the company’s business practices “constituted unfair competition,” blocking its services, and disallowing the company from advertising. An appellate court has allowed the company to keep operating until a final ruling is made, but that might not be for long.
In other popular European tourist destinations, Uber has gone through periods of suspension—including in France, Spain, and the Netherlands—but that mostly focused on UberPOP, a service the company formerly offered that’s like UberX in the U.S., where drivers without commercial licenses use their private cars. In fact, as Fortune reports, Uber is awaiting a ruling by the European Court of Justice, the top court in the EU, over a dispute with Barcelona’s main taxi operator, which accused the company of running an illegal taxi service via UberPOP. The ruling will determine whether Uber is treated as a technology company or as a taxi service, which would require stricter regulations where Uber still operates UberPOP—which, in similar instances, has led to the company pulling the service.
China Uber didn’t get banned or anything in this massive market—but it was hemorrhaging money and eventually got bought out by Chinese competitor Didi Chuxing after both companies reported losing billions of dollars in their ride-share race.
Japan The legalities for Uber are pretty tricky in Japan; only a handful of places use UberX, but those places have to be too small to support public transportation to qualify, as Bloomberg reports. Otherwise, Tokyo’s a no-go for UberX, where only luxury cars or taxis with licensed drivers can operate. In that case, Uber exists, but doesn’t have a competitive advantage. Effectively, it’s the inverse of what you’re finding in the U.S.
Taiwan Uber suspended service in February after being hit with millions in fines by the Taiwanese government, but just this past week, the company reached an agreement with the government to use rental car agencies to get a fleet of cars on the ground in Taipei (rental car agencies there also offer drivers). So far, the service is limited to Taipei.
For the most part, Uber is legal now across the continent, but that’s come down to which state you’re in. The one holdout to this point is the Northern Territory, which has banned Uber altogether. Allegedly, the regional government will re-evaluate the ride-share company’s status at a later date, but in the meantime, if you’re heading to Darwin, you’ll have to find a ride elsewhere. Otherwise, you’re able to use Uber in more popular spots like Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth.
Uber isn’t banned anywhere in the continent, but that could change. After exiting China, Uber shifted its focus to the emerging market of Brazil—but governments are eyeing the kinds of regulations that Uber fights against, and taxi companies want the app banned altogether.
Even so, the company is looking to gobble up the market in Latin America, already driving in at least 65 cities, and expanding rapidly.