If you’re visiting NYC for the first time, you might be wondering how to hail a cab in NYC.

Well lucky for you, this article will tech you how, and give you all the tips you need for getting a taxi in NYC.

Riding in a yellow cab is one of those classic NYC experiences that every visitor to the city wants to try at least once. So it’s pretty crucial to learn how to hail a cab in NYC, right?

New York City is a bustling metropolis with a well-established taxi culture. You’ll find those yellow cabs everywhere!

But the problem is, how do you hail a cab in NYC, really?

Yes, it seems like the taxis are everywhere, but figuring out how to grab a taxi in NYC can prove tricky if you’ve never tried.

In this article, I’ll impart all my knowledge and tricks for how to hail a cab in NYC, so you can confidently and successfully do it!

Here’s my ultimate guide on how to hail a cab in NYC…

Choose your location properly and avoid congested areas

The first thing you need to think about when learning how to hail a cab in NYC, is where to hail it from.

Choosing the right location for hailing a cab in NYC is going to be paramount to your success.

Find a suitable location where it’s safe and convenient to hail a taxi. This is a pretty important part of getting a taxi in NYC.

I avoid any areas with crowded pedestrians (like Times Square for example), and any areas where there might be buses or tour buses constantly stopping (this would make it difficult for your taxi to pull over).

In heavily congested areas like Times Square or outside major transportation hubs, it can be challenging to find an available taxi.

Consider walking a short distance to a less crowded spot to increase your chances of hailing a cab in NYC.

When it comes to hailing a cab in NYC, quiet sidewalks and street corners are ideal spots, and I find that standing just after a traffic lights can be helpful, because it gives the taxi driver time to notice you.

Another key part of learning how to hail a cab in NYC, is remembering, if it’s night time, to stand somewhere well-lit too – because you want the taxi driver to be able to see you!

If you’re really struggling to find somewhere, most hotels are good places to try.

And they might even have a friendly doorman who will hail the cab for you.

Look for the Light

Ok, so now you know the very basics of where to hail a cab in NYC, it’s time to move onto what to look out for and how to pick the right cab.

Obviously, that’s a pretty key part of getting a tazi in NYC too!

Knowing how to spot an available taxi, is a crucial part of how to hail a cab in NYC!

NYC taxis are distinctive with their bright yellow color, and they’re pretty easy to spot.

But most tourists don’t realise that the little lightbox above the car, is indicative of whether the taxi cab is already occupied.

The rooftop sign on top of the cab will be illuminated when they’re available for passengers.

If the light isn’t lit, it means they already completing a job and have passengers inside.

So in short – If the sign is lit, it means the taxi is empty and looking for passengers. When the sign is off, the taxi is occupied or off-duty.

So don’t bother trying to hail a cab in NYC if the cab has it’s light off. They won’t stop! Always look for cabs with their light on.

Now, we’ve covered two of the main tings you need to know when learning how to hail a cab in NYC!

Stand on the Curb and do ‘the arm thing’

The next important thing to learn when it comes to hailing a cab in NYC, is the ‘arm thing’.

You know what I’m talking about!

When you’re ready to hail a taxi, and you’ve spotted on with it’s light on and accepting passengers, then it’s time to hail the cab and do the famous ‘arm thing’.

Now, how do you hail a cab in NYC? It’s pretty simple.

Stand at the edge of the curb and extend your arm outward. It’s a bit like doing a giant horizontal high-five, but in one big, smooth motion.

This is the universal gesture for hailing a taxi in NYC.

Keep your arm out and straight until you’re pretty sure the cab has taken notice.

Don’t be afraid of making this gesture big, you want to make it obvious to the driver, and you want to catch their eye too.

As I mentioned, make sure you’re visible to the driver, especially at night. Because if they can’t see you, they won’t stop!

Tip: Don’t whislte. The ‘arm thing’ is far more effective!

Be Patient

Sometimes, it might take a moment for a taxi to pull over, especially during busy hours. Even if you’ve followed all our tips for how to hail a cab in NYC, it may still take a minute.

It helps to continue to hold your hand out and make eye contact with the driver to signal your intention clearly.

Usually drivers might give you a little wave, nod, or flash their lights to signal to you that they’ve seen you and are making their way over to you.

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Tip: Note the Taxi’s Medallion Number

This tip isn’t necessarily part of hailing a cab in NYC, but it is kind of important.

Once you’ve successfully hailed a cab in NYC and got inside, it’s always a good idea to take note of the taxi’s medallion number, displayed on the license plate, the roof, and inside the cab.

Why? Well, this number can be useful in case you need to report a lost item or file a complaint.

Whilst it’s not a ‘must’ when hailing a cab in NYC, if you’re prone to forgetting things, or losing things, it’s definitely a useful bit of information to have access to later on.

Confirm the Destination

Next on my list of how to hail a cab in NYC, it’s confirming your destination with the driver.

It’s best to do this before getting in the cab, so I always communicate with the driver through their front window about the location.

If you’re getting a cab in a busy area and the taxi driver needs to keep driving quickly, you might just need to skip this part and tell them once you’re in the cab.

Just so you know, NYC taxis are required to accept passengers traveling anywhere within the five boroughs, but it’s still courteous to confirm.

Tip: Make sure you know how to use cross streets or intersections when explaining the address.

Some streets are very big in NYC – so you need to know the cross streets or intersections for accuracy sometimes.

This obviously isn’t needed for big touristy landmarks or hotels, but more useful for restaurants and lesser known locations.

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Enter the Taxi Safely

One sure-fire way to annoy an NYC taxi driver, is by entering the cab in an unsafe way.

Make sure you open the rear passenger door and enter the taxi. Do not attempt to enter from the driver’s / road side, especially on busy streets.

Once you’re in, put on your seatbelt, and take a quick glance to make sure the meter is turned on.

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Payment Options

NYC taxis accept cash and credit cards for payment.

If paying by credit card, let the driver know your preference before the ride begins. You can also add a tip to the fare when paying by card.

I always prefer to tip with cash, even if I’m paying for the ride with card.


A big part of learning riding in taxis in NYC, is also tipping correctly.

Tipping is customary in the USA, and especially in NYC. And you’ll be required to tip on any taxi journeys you take.

It’s standard to tip your taxi driver 15-20% of the total fare, and you can add this tip when paying by credit card or give it to the driver in cash.

Reasons you might want to tip more than usual, and reach more towards 25%:

  • The driver stopped off somewhere like a cash machine on-route
  • The driver picked up secondary passengers from a different location
  • The driver did a great job at avoiding traffic
  • The driver helped you with bags or luggage
  • The driver was talkative and gave you lots of great recomendations

Some etiquette tips for hailing a cab in NYC

Ok, so now you pretty much know how to hail a cab in NYC, but there are a few etiquette tips I want to give you before you head out and hail your first cab.

1. Be polite and don’t block other hailers

Firstly, it’s important when learning how to grab a taxi in NYC, and anytime really, that you don’t block other people trying to hail a cab.

There many often be times when someone else is also trying to hail a cab in NYC, a few feet down from you.

If someone else is beside you is also trying to grab a taxi, it’s only polite that you don’t block the,. If they were first, let them get the first cab that pulls up.

Alternatively, you could move further up the street, or around the block instead.

2. Don’t stress or shout if cabs drive past you

Don’t get mad or shout at cabs if they drive past you. Sometimes they will have a reason for it, sometimes they won’t – but it’s just the nature of NYC.

Try not to get frustrated if you can’t hail a cab in NYC straightaway.

Even the most seasoned New Yorkers struggle at times!

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So now you know how to hail a cab in NYC!

Hailing a taxi in NYC may seem intimidating at first, but it’s a convenient and efficient way to get around the city.

Hopefully with my tips on how to successfully get a yellow taxi in NYC you feels a little more confident heading out into the city.

By following these steps and being courteous to your driver, you’ll have a smooth and enjoyable taxi experience in the Big Apple.

Have fun!

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