Ride-hailing is regulated on a state and local level, so different cities in the same state will have different regulations, and Uber and Lyft will consequently have different requirements. It’s best to check with them for your city’s specific requirements, but we can give you a basic idea of what each company requires and how to get started with them.
Uber’s basic driver requirements
These are Uber’s basic minimum requirements that apply nationally across the United States:
- Meet the minimum age to drive in your city
- Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under 23 years old)
- Have a valid U.S. driver’s license
- Use an eligible four-door vehicle
- Required documents
Before you hit the road with Uber you’ll need to share the following documents with them:
- A valid U.S. driver’s license
- Proof of residency in your city or state
- Proof of vehicle insurance if you plan to drive your own car
- A driver profile photo
- The photo must be a forward-facing, centered photo including the driver’s full face and top of shoulders, with no sunglasses
- Must be a photo only of the driver with no other subject in the frame, well-lit, and in focus; it cannot be a driver’s license photo or other printed photograph
- A driver screening which will review your driving record and criminal history. You can complete this step after you sign up.
The driver screening is the most time-consuming part. If not for that, everyone could be approved instantly, but because of this safety screening you can expect to wait five to seven days on average. If your wait is longer than that, it is usually an indication that they’ve found a problem and need a real person to physically look at your application and make a decision.
One thing to note is that today Uber is not necessarily taking any and all new drivers who want to apply. Depending on where you are, they may not be taking on any new drivers right now. For instance, in New York City, Uber stopped accepting new driver applications in April of this year. It is not known when they will begin accepting new applications.
Also, in Los Angeles, for several years, Uber has not and is not currently accepting new drivers for UberBLACK or UberSUV, its two high-end car services. It is accepting applications from drivers for UberLUX, but that is a super high-end service that requires very expensive cars, and there’s not too much demand for it because it is so expensive.
The application process for both companies is done completely online. It can be done through Uber’s website and Lyft’s website, or you can apply through their driver apps which can be downloaded here for Android or iPhone.
Uber’s vehicle requirements
As far as vehicle requirements, Uber generally requires drivers to have a car that’s not older than 10-15 years. The vehicle age requirements depend on your city, so that’s something you’ll have to check with their local web page or office.
Nationally, UberX cars have to meet these few basic requirements:
- Four-door car or minivan
- Seats and seat belts for at least four passengers and a driver
- Good condition with no cosmetic damage
- No commercial branding
You can read a full list of Uber driver requirements here.
Lyft’s basic driver requirements
At least according to Lyft’s website, their requirements seem simpler, but they are really just about the same as Uber’s. Lyft requires that drivers:
- Be at least 21 years old (that’s different from Uber, which will accept younger in certain circumstances)
- Pass a free, online DMV and background check
- Use an iPhone or Android smartphone
- Have a U.S. driver’s license for at least one year
- Provide proof of insurance and (in most cities) a car inspection
- Submit a photo of yourself
As with Uber, it is Lyft’s background check that takes the most time. And it will set you back five to seven days as well.
You can read a full list of Lyft driver requirements here.
Lyft’s vehicle requirements
These again are about the same as Uber’s vehicle requirements. You must:
- Meet your Lyft’s city-specific vehicle age requirement
- Have at least four doors, not including jump doors
- Offer five to eight seats, including the driver’s seat
Regular Lyft vehicles, like UberX vehicles, must have five seats, four for the passengers and one for the driver. But Lyft Plus, as with UberXL, has to provide for at least six passenger seats, plus one for the driver.
Lyft drivers are required to get their vehicles inspected by a certified vehicle inspection station. The inspector must fill out this Lyft form in order to complete the sign-up process for drivers.
Both companies will require your express permission to conduct a background check. The background check includes a look into any criminal history you might have as well as into your driving history.
If you have a criminal history, you will not necessarily be denied. Many criminal background checks aren’t allowed to go back more than seven years. California, however, recently passed a law requiring ride-hail companies to look at a person’s entire life for criminal history.
There are also many types of crimes that won’t cause you to be denied. Since you’re driving passengers, they are mainly concerned with types of crimes that would indicate a driver might be a danger to passengers. Any type of violent crime, for instance, would pretty much mean an automatic denial.
They are very strict however, when it comes to driving records. If you have a spotty driving record, especially in the last few years, that could well be grounds for denial.
Pros for ride-hail driving
The main advantages people cite for driving for Uber and/or Lyft are:
- The flexibility to work when they want (or can)
- The ability to get paid instantly any time day or night (by an instantaneous credit to your debit card)
- Easy requirements to get started
There are other gig opportunities
If you’re looking to work for Uber or Lyft because you need the flexibility they provide, there are a lot of other gig jobs you can do today that offer the same flexibility and other benefits. As time goes on, the extensive list of gig companies in other industries and continues to grow.
Today you can find gig work in all kinds of industries, from package and food delivery to dog walking to even medical care for nurses and doctors!
This article was written for Autoblog by our friends at Ridester and Gigworker, resources dedicated to helping rideshare drivers and gig economy workers maximize their potential, as well as providing news, information and money-saving promotions for drivers, riders and other participants in the bourgeoning gig economy.