Yes, you too can make money driving around your city in your own vehicle by becoming an Uber driver-partner. The process is relatively straightforward, provided that both you and your car meet Uber’s requirements. Read on to learn what you’ll need, how to sign up online, and how to set your own schedule and start driving, plus answers to some other frequently asked questions.
Here are the 4 steps you need to take to become an Uber driver:
Step 1: Check If You Meet Uber’s Driver & Car Requirements
In order to ensure a positive customer experience, Uber requires that all of their driver-partners and their cars meet basic minimum standards.
The minimum standards for drivers include:
- Be 21 years old or older, have an in-state driver’s license, and be licensed for at least one year (or three years if you’re under 23)
- Have a valid Social Security Number
- Have in-state auto insurance with your name listed on the policy (you don’t necessarily have to be the policy holder)
- Able to pass a seven-year background check, including:
- No DUIs or drug-related offenses in the last 7 years (10 years in California)
- No major driving infractions, such as fatal vehicular accidents, reckless driving charges, or incidents of driving without a valid license or insurance in the last 7 years.
- No speeding violations in the last 3 years
- No other criminal history in the last 7 years, such as felony or misdemeanor theft, burglary, or robbery
The minimum standards for cars include:
- A four-door vehicle that is 10 years old or newer
- Must pass an Uber vehicle inspection (more details below)
- In-state license plates with current registration
Note: these are the minimum basic requirements in most cities, but some cities may have different or additional requirements. For example, Uber driver-partners in Nevada must secure a Nevada TNC permit sticker as well as a Nevada state business license. In New York City, Uber driver-partners must carry a valid commercial car insurance policy and a taxi and limousine commission license.
Step 2: Sign Up to Drive with Uber
There are three parts to signing up to become an Uber driver-partner:
1. Sign Up Online
If you pass all of the minimum requirements listed above, the next step is to sign-up online. You will be asked to provide your complete name, email address, phone number, city, and the type of vehicle you plan to drive.
2. Have Your Vehicle Inspected
Uber will require you to send photos of your car, and your car will need to pass a safety inspection. In many larger markets, Uber provides free inspections at locations called Greenlight Spots, Greenlight Hubs, or Inspection Centers.
Because you’re using your own vehicle to drive, passing a comprehensive inspection is Uber’s way of ensuring that both you and your passengers are kept safe. While the specifics vary by location, some of the points that the inspection will consist of include:
- No major body damage
- Working headlights, tail lights, and indicator lights
- Functioning foot brake and parking brake
- Windshield integrity
- Functioning safety belts for the driver and any passengers
- Tires, including tread wear
- Interior and exterior rear view mirrors
Visit the Uber cities page and select your city, click ‘Drive’, and select ‘Local Driver Guide’ on the menu. You’ll then see the ‘Select a Topic’ section. In this section, you’ll find a lot of useful resources specific to your city.
Choose ‘Vehicle Inspections’ to find an Uber Greenlight Spot (if available) or another approved inspection center near you and to confirm your city’s specific requirements for your vehicle. Your results will be plotted on a map, like this:
If there’s no Greenlight inspection in your area, you can have your vehicle inspected by a third party ASE-certified mechanic. Some areas will have a fixed price with participating third-party mechanics, but you can expect to pay around $20 for a full inspection.
Uber Service Vehicle Requirements
Uber driver-partners are required to select an Uber service based on their vehicle and preferences. In all cases, the car must be ten years old or newer, have four doors, and be able to comfortably seat at least four people. Specific requirements and availability of services may vary by city, which you can confirm here.
Uber’s services (in order of most to least expensive) include:
- UberLUX – highest-end luxury vehicles, such as BMW or Mercedes
- UberSUV – this is a combination of UberXL and UberSELECT, so luxury SUVs
- UberBLACK – black-on-black premium mid-to-full-size cars, such as a Lincoln Towncar
- UberSELECT – entry-level luxury service with mid-to-full-size vehicles with leather interiors
- UberT or UberTAXI – Uber’s taxi service
- UberXL – larger vehicles like mini-vans and SUVs that can accommodate more passengers
- UberX – the basic Uber service, which may be any four-door car
- UberWAV – Uber service for individuals needing wheelchair-accessible vehicles
- UberPOOL – by pooling different passengers together in the same car, this service offers more affordable rates than UberX. This can be any four-door car.
3. Submit Your Paperwork
The paperwork that Uber requires can be submitted through their website and includes copies of the following:
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle registration
- Vehicle insurance
- Photos of vehicle exterior – front, passenger side, driver side, and rear of vehicle (including license plate)
- Phones of vehicle interior – front and back seats
Uber offers extended insurance coverage while you’re driving with them, but it’s supplemental — you still need to have your own personal policy. While you don’t have to be the primary policy holder, you have to be named on the policy as an insured. Your car also has to be registered with the state, although it doesn’t necessarily have to be under your name.
Once all of your paperwork has been submitted and approved, Uber will complete a background check on you to confirm the items we noted above. Once you pass, you will be on your way to becoming an Uber driver-partner.
Step 3: Set Your Own Schedule & Start Driving
Once you’re ready to begin driving, download the Uber Driver app for iOS or Android to your smartphone. Because you’re an independent contractor, you can set your own schedule and drive when it works best for you.
You can start and stop receiving ride requests any time you want with some local caveats. For example, some cities like New York limit drivers to a maximum of a 12-hour shift in any 24-hour time period. As well, Uber’s Community Guidelines page encourage drivers to take a break whenever they feel tired or sleepy to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers.
How the Uber Driver App Works
The process of picking up and dropping off passengers involves a few steps:
- Log in to the Uber Driver app and click “Go Online” to list yourself as available for pickups
- Wait for a ride request — your phone will start beeping once you receive a ride request and you can see the rider’s pick-up location and destination
- Tap on your phone screen to accept the request
You only have about 30 seconds to accept a ride request before it’s passed to the next available driver-partner. If you choose to decline the request, it will be passed to the next closest Uber driver-partner.
Once you have accepted the request, do the following:
- Click on the “Navigate” button at the upper right-hand corner of the app to use the app’s built-in GPS, or you can use another navigation app like Google Maps
- Notify the passenger right away when you arrive, verify their name to confirm you’re picking up the correct person, and greet them into your vehicle
- Verify where you’re driving with your passenger before you start and then start the trip in the app
Note: You will be able to choose a personal destination twice a day. This allows you to only receive trips that have a destination near a particular location. Otherwise, you do not have control over the passenger’s destination.
Once you’ve reached your passenger’s destination, end the trip by:
- Dropping the passenger off at their destination
- Ending the trip in the app
- After you have completed the trip you will be asked to rate your passenger on a scale of 1-5 stars with the option of leaving comments and your passenger will have the option of rating you as well
Step 4: Get Paid
Remember that the fare you see when you end a trip is the fare that’s charged to the passenger. It includes:
- Trip fare, which is based on the time and distance of the trip
- Booking fee, which is paid to Uber and varies by city
- Any tolls that had to be paid while on the trip
Driver-partners earn the trip fare minus any booking fees and tolls paid.
Tips to Maximize Your Earnings with Uber
- Try to minimize the distance that you travel between pick-ups by remaining in dense, busy areas (such as a city’s downtown center)
- Drive at different times of the day and night to help you determine the best times and places to drive in your area
- Use apps like GasBuddy or MapQuest Gas Prices to find the cheapest gas prices near you to help lower your expenses
- Drive during high demand times, such as special events, rush hour, or as bars start to close as this is when Uber is most likely to charge surge pricing
- Since you’re an independent contractor, you may be eligible for tax deductions such as your monthly car payments, interest on your vehicle loan, standard mileage, cell phone bill, and insurance
- If your vehicle meets Uber’s requirements, you may want to consider driving for UberXL or one of the luxury services — especially during higher-demand times. You can toggle between X and XL in the driver app whenever you choose.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do Uber drivers earn?
Uber driver-partners typically receive about 75% of the total trip fare. Passengers may also add a tip to their fare, but this is voluntary. Driver-partners are also permitted to accept cash tips if one is offered — but, again, this is voluntary and not to be expected.
As independent contractors, Uber driver-partners are responsible for the costs of owning and operating their vehicle. This should be deducted from your earnings to estimate how much you can expect to net.
In order to maintain your Uber partner account, you must accept at least one trip every 30 days. If not, you may have to reapply.
How does the rating system affect my account?
Your driver’s rating is based on the average number of stars out of 5 that your last 500 passengers have given you. While you can improve your rating over time, there is a minimum rating that you must maintain to continue driving in most cities. Uber will alert you if your rating is close to this minimum. If your rating falls below the minimum, you may lose access to your account.
What is an acceptable cancellation rate?
If something urgent comes up after you’ve accepted a ride, you are permitted to cancel the trip request, and it will be reassigned to the next closest driver. Efficient drivers usually have a cancellation rate lower than 5%, but this will vary by city. Like the star rating system, you will be notified if your cancellation rate is approaching what Uber determines is an acceptable limit.
Can I be an Uber driver if I don’t have a vehicle?
Even if you don’t have a vehicle of your own, you may still be able to become an Uber driver-partner. Uber may help you rent or lease a vehicle in certain areas. Check out Uber Xchange for details.
With Uber’s leasing program, driver-partners pay $2,000 to begin leasing a car. Uber then deducts regular payments from the driver-partners’ earnings. However, this lending program commits you to Uber and generally costs more than a traditional lease over time.
Do I need to purchase commercial insurance?
Uber only requires you to have personal auto insurance (except in New York City where commercial insurance is required). Once you accept a ride, you are covered by additional Uber-provided commercial insurance. This coverage ends once you close the Uber Driver app.
Uber covers the cost of this additional commercial insurance through their share of the passenger’s fare.
Do I need a commercial driver’s license?
Most cities do not require you to have a commercial driver’s license to be an UberX driver-partner. However, some cities do require one for the higher levels of service. Uber will confirm this with you during the sign up process.
How long does the sign up process take?
Uber’s sign up process is relatively straightforward and quick to process. Many driver-partners are able to accept their first fare within a week of signing up. You may sign into your account and check the status of your sign up request at any time.
Can I reapply if my sign up request is denied?
Yes, but typically only after a six-month wait. Uber won’t confirm why your request was denied — they may say something vague about your background, but they won’t be explicit. Therefore, your chances of getting approved following a rejection can be quite low.
How do I pay taxes as an Uber driver?
Uber driver-partners are classified as independent contractors. Therefore, no taxes are withheld by the federal or state government. It’s your responsibility to file your taxes at the end of each year, generally using a Schedule C.
Can I drive for Uber if I’m not a US citizen?
If you have an SSN and are eligible to work in the United States, then you can drive for Uber as long as you meet their other requirements. However, Uber doesn’t honor international driving experience. You need to have a US license for at least one year (3 years if you’re under 23 years old).
What are the drawbacks of driving for Uber?
No job is perfect. One of the biggest drawbacks of being an Uber driver-partner is the wear and tear on your vehicle. Also, because Uber driver-partners are independent contractors, you’re responsible for any and all costs of owning, maintaining, and operating your vehicle.
Bottom Line: How to Become an Uber Driver
Uber provides an attractive option for people who would like the freedom that comes with being an independent contractor, the flexibility of creating their own schedule, and the ability to earn additional income as a driver-partner — supported at every turn by one of the most successful industry disrupting startups in history.
Simply sign up online, share your documents, have your vehicle inspected, and download the driver app and go! You’re in the driver’s seat.