Hire a Guide

This information is provided by The Guides Association of New York City (www.GANYC.org). Many members work as self-employed, free-lance guides. Others work for sight-seeing tour bus operators and some operate their own tour companies. Neither the Guides Association of New York City (GANYC) nor NewYorkCityTourGuides.com is an employer or represents in any fiduciary way, any tour guide member of this site or his or her client.

   Standards  |  Fees  |  Payment  |  Tipping  |  Expectations  |  Definitions
Guides are licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs of the City of New York.  To receive a Guide License, applicants must pass a test that asks them about New York City history, facts and figures. In addition, the Department does a background check on applicants to verify that they have no criminal history. For more information, please contact the Department of Consumer Affairs, City of New York. Tel: 212-487-4444 or visit the Department's Web site..

The Guides Association does not certify the qualifications of its members. However, NYC & Company, the City's official host organization, administers professional tour guide enhancement programs and issues certificates to those guides who successfully complete such a program and pass a test.

NewYorkCityTourGuides.com is grateful to receive information from tour groups if they have been especially pleased with a listed guide who they hired or if they had an unpleasant experience or felt that the guide was incompetent. Serious complaints, if substantiated, are cause for removing any guide from the listing on this Web site. Please send your comments to:

In the interest of encouraging tour groups to feel confident in hiring members for their groups, please note the following fee structure which guides have reported receiving.

Tours Fees
Half-day city tour . 4 hours $155-$275
Full-day city tour . 8 hours $275-$450
Airport Pick-up/Drop-off $180 (Plus airport bus fare)
Private Tours $35-$50/hour - 2-3 hours minimum)
Custom Tours Depends on itinerary and need to develop specialized commentary
Youth Groups Negotiable
Excursions (Niagara Falls, Washington DO, etc Negotiable $300-$500/day

Clients negotiate fees with and pay the guide directly. The Association recommends that payment be made in cash or traveler's check in US dollars unless a prior arrangement that is acceptable to the guide is made. It is not unreasonable for guides to request payment or a portion of payment in advance.

Tour guides work in the service business, and, as it is for other service workers such as taxi drivers, waiters, waitresses and hotel doormen, it is customary to tip a guide, especially if you have had a pleasant and educational experience. Tipping in New York is somewhat higher than in other cities. The tip range is from 16 % to 25% of the total bill for service.

The Guides Association, maintains regular communication with its members through its newsletter Guidelines and membership meetings. It acts as a liaison between the guides and various city agencies such as the Department of Consumer Affairs, Department of Transportation and the Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as community groups, cultural attractions, restaurants and other businesses that cater to tourists.

Member guides can be expected to be aware of street fairs, parades or other events that would necessitate changes in tour routes. Guides should also be aware of the numerous city regulations covering tour buses such as drop-off points, as well as streets or neighborhoods that are off-limit to tour buses.

On occassions, your guide may direct your tour bus to a less convenient drop-off or pick-up point. The City's Department of Transportation has become strict with tour buses, especially in the very busy commercial districts or in quiet residential neighborhood.   Guides are responsible for following these rules.   Please do not request your bus driver to make turns or park in any areas that your Guide has deemed unsafe or illegal.
The following definitions may be useful when discussing the needs of your group. More detailed descriptions of tours can be found on the Select a Tour page.

  City Tour
    A tour of Manhattan. Usually begins at one of the hotels in the Central Business District (Midtown). Depending on time, a City Tour can include both uptown and downtown sites.

    Below 34th Street. This is the older portion of the City. Sites that can be visited include Greenwich Village, SOHO, Little Italy, Chinatown, Wall Street, City Hall, Lower East Side, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island.

  Full Day
    Six to eight hours. Usually includes stop for lunch.

    Approximately four hours.

  No Standing
    This is the Department of Transportation's way of saying a bus may wait for its passengers but the driver must remain with the vehicle at all times, ready to move if directed to do so by a police officer.

Many areas in the busiest commercial districts or in residential neighborhoods forbid buses - or any vehicles - from standing or even stopping!.

  Non Commercial Traffic
    Roadways so designated are reserved for cars and taxis only. In certain circumstances, buses may use noncommercial routes. For example, buses are permitted on the top level of the Queensboro Bridge and the Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport. However, they may not use Park Avenue or the Belt Parkway near JFK Airport.

  Airport Pick-up/Drop-off
    (Also called " Meet & Greet"). Guides will great passengers on arrival, communicate with the bus company to have the bus move up to the gate and assist with boarding. Guide may also assist group with hotel check in. Please note: During busy times of the day, travel to and from JFK airport can be as much as one and a half hours. Guides should be reimbursed for one-way travel expenses.

    North of 59th Street. Sites to visit include, Central Park, Lincoln Center, Upper West Side, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, City University, Riverside Church, Harlem, Apollo Theatre, Cotton Club, Fifth Avenue, Jewish Museum, Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Whitney Museum, Frick Collection, Plaza Hotel.