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D.C. To Relax Rules For New Tour Guides

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Maricar Donato trains aspiring guides for the D.C. License Exam.
Rebecca Sheir
Maricar Donato trains aspiring guides for the D.C. License Exam.

By Rebecca Sheir

Aspiring D.C. tour guides will soon see more relaxed rules for obtaining licenses.

Some veteran guides are hailing the changes as long overdue, but others worry about their livelihood.

Carolyn Crouch, founder of Washington Walks, applied for her tour-guide license in 1998.

"It was almost as document-intensive as what I had to do to adopt my daughter from Vietnam," says Crouch. "It was a lot of paperwork!"

Crouch says she's glad D.C.'s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is ending the paper chase, which currently includes half-a-dozen letters of recommendation, notarized doctor's notes attesting you have excellent sight and hearing and are not, a so-called drunkard, and proof you're an American citizen who can read, speak and write English.

That last one worries Maricar Donato, founder of WashingTours and Events.

"They're going to remove that law about the U.S. citizenship," says Donato. "That's not good because they're stealing my job!"

But chances are Donato is safe. In addition to leading tours, she leads prep classes for the D.C. License Exam, which tests one's knowledge of the buildings and history of D.C. And aspiring guides still will need to pass that test to get their license.

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