How to Become an Uber Driver? An Ultimate 5-Step Guide

Are You Interested In Becoming an Uber or Lyft Driver in Upstate New York?

Below are the requirements for drivers and their vehicles, according to both companies.

Uber Driver & Vehicle Requirements

Driver Must:

  • be at least 21 years of age
  • have at least one year of driving experience, and three years of driving experience if you are under the age of 23
  • be able to pass a background check
  • have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance and a bank account

Vehicles Must:

  • have a four-door vehicle that seats at least five people, including the driver
  • be fewer than 15 years-old
  • not be salvaged, reconstructed or rebuilt
  • not be a rental car
  • not have any “cosmetic damage, missing pieces, commercial branding, or taxi paint jobs”

Potential drivers can download the Uber application here.

Lyft Driver & Vehicle Requirements

Driver Must:

  • Be at least 21 years old and have had an an active United States driver’s license for a year
  • be able to pass a background and DMV check 
  • have current license plates, registration and insurance with your name on the policy
  • own a smart phone

Vehicles Must:

  • Pass a vehicle inspection
  • not be a taxi or limousine
  • not have dents or external damage
  • have functioning brakes, windows, lights, seatbelts, seats and mirrors
  • and have tires that pass the “penny test

Potential drivers can download the Lyft application here.


What Costs Does Uber Cover?

As an independent contractor, you are responsible for all of your gas costs, car repair and maintenance costs, and any other car-related expenses. However, there are certain costs that the company does reimburse for its drivers.

For instance, Uber charges riders a fee if there is any damage to the driver’s vehicle, whether interior or exterior. This includes any time that a rider spills something or vomits inside an Uber driver’s car. Uber makes a full assessment of the cost of cleaning and charges the rider. The full collected amount is then given to the driver.

Uber also reimburses drivers for any tolls incurred while they are on driving trips. Toll charges are added to the rider’s fare when they pass through a toll area. Both riders and drivers can see the breakdown in their receipts and statements.

How Much do Uber Drivers Make?

Because Uber drivers are independent contractors, their earnings, how they manage them, and expense are all their responsibility. That being said, on average, an Uber driver makes anywhere from $10 to $20 an hour. Drivers also utilize earnings tracking apps and work as their own accountants.

Examples of expenses that drivers will be responsible for are:

  • Gas
  • Car maintenance
  • Taxes
  • Car payments if leased

What Are Ways Uber Drivers Can Increase Their Earnings?

Another reason you’re reading this article is that you also want to know how to be a financially smart Uber driver.

Here are some tips on how to make more as a rideshare driver:

  • Use a hybrid vehicle – A hybrid vehicle won’t just put you in a unique Uber category but it also shaves a couple of hundred dollars off your monthly gas bill.
  • Drive during a passenger surge – Driving when rates are doubled due to high demand is a great way for Uber drivers to earn extra.
  • Ask about sign-on or referral bonuses – Some rideshare companies, including Uber, may offer bonuses for new hires or referring a friend. Ask about them when you start.
  • Side hustle with Uber Eats – If your car has been approved for rideshare services, it more than meets the Uber Driver requirements for an Uber Eats vehicle. When not moving people, you can always move their food for extra money.

3. Obtain the required documents

Potential drivers need to upload their driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Uber also asks for additional proof of residency at your address beyond your driver’s license. To streamline the application process, obtain these documents before starting an application.

FYI:FYI: Your rideshare driving application will require you to submit your driver’s license, proof of insurance and vehicle registration. Uber requires additional proof of residency.

Renting to Drive

For some, one of the biggest limitations of becoming an Uber Black driver are the strict vehicle restrictions. Purchasing or leasing a new vehicle for the purpose of driving with Uber Black is a hefty investment. However, HyreCar offers easy car rentals that would enable you to rent vehicles in your area, rather than drive your own.

HyreCar enables car owners to rent out their unused vehicles to those who need them. If you, as an Uber driver, want to drive for Uber Black, there is the potential to rent one of these higher end vehicles from someone for far less than you’d spend on a new vehicle, making it possible for you to earn more with less personal investment.

Sign Up With Uber

Another way to drive without purchasing or leasing a luxury vehicle would be to look into whether a fleet owner exists in your area. If you possess all of the Uber Black driver qualifications, you may be able to find a fleet owner who is in search of one. However, be aware that you don’t have as much earning power as you would when renting or purchasing your own vehicle, as you are partnering with someone else.

What Should I Know Before I Become an Uber Driver?

Like any job, you should know the basics of being a rideshare driver before you decide to invest your time and energy into it.

So let us now cover some of the details of what being an Uber driver entails.

1. You’ll Be Picking Up And Dropping People Off

1. You’ll Be Picking Up And Dropping People Off

It might be obvious, but the main activity of an Uber driver is picking up and dropping off people.

As soon as you put yourself online in the Uber driver app, ride requests will start coming in.

The application itself coordinates everything and will decide which ride requests to send you based on your location and the pickup location.

Slower nights can be frustrating—you will have minimal requests and lower earnings.

But on a busy night, you can get completely consumed with back-to-back requests constantly coming in.

Uber can even offer you the upcoming ride request before you have dropped off your current passenger.

2. You Will Be a 1099 Contractor

As an Uber driver, you are considered a 1099 contractor.

This classification refers to the 1099 tax document, and it means that you are a self-employed and independent contractor.

You will not get a salary because you will not be an employee of Uber.

Your earnings will entirely depend on the rides that you make.

And as a 1099 contractor, you are solely responsible for setting aside a portion of your income to pay taxes.

Suggested Read: Uber Tax Information: Essential Tax Forms, Documents, & Checklists

3. You Will Get Out of Uber What You Put into It

Uber can be a great way to make money if you do it right, but it is not easy to earn money.

The time you put into Uber, along with a willingness to work the peak hours, will be a determining factor.

You will get out of Uber what you put into it.

And if you make Uber your full-time job, you will make money for sure.

But for part-time work, you might have to learn the best hours to work in your area and then put the effort in during those times.

Certain peak hours will correlate with promotions and other bonuses from Uber as well.

Uber wants to keep both their drivers and riders happy.

How to Become an Uber Driver

Now that you have a basic idea of the requirements for driving with Uber, let’s get into some of the detailed steps for how to sign up.

Understanding these steps and having the right documents ready to go will make it as smooth as possible.

Documents You’ll Need

Uber will need proof that you meet the vehicle and personal requirements to become a driver.

So be sure to have these required documents scanned before starting the signup process:

  • Driver’s license
  • Your vehicle’s registration
  • Your vehicle’s insurance with your name on the policy
  • A passed background check (performed in the process with Checkr)
  • Profile photo
  • Licensing certificate (if your city/region requires it)

Be sure that you are uploading original documents and that they are visible and easy to read.

Rejected documents will only slow down the process.

The Application Process

If you meet the requirements for being an Uber driver, the signup process is pretty simple and takes just a few minutes.

The more comfortable you are with using your computer and smartphone—downloading apps, uploading documents, etc—the easier the process will be.

But the basic application process is as follows:

But the basic application process is as follows:

  • Create an account and give details about yourself and your car
  • Provide Uber with the required documents
  • Download the app and wait for your final approval

Some of those steps can take a long time, depending on your specific circumstances.

For example, having the wrong kind of offense pop up on your background check will disqualify you.

And having an expired document will also delay the process.

But generally speaking, the application process is that simple.

Airport Permits

In many cities, Uber Black drivers are required to have airport permits as well. Even if it isn’t required, it may be something you want to invest in if you are an Uber Black driver.

Airports are often central to the success of an Uber Black driver. Wealthier clients want a better experience for their stay in a city, so they usually choose Uber Black over a regular service.

However, airport permits aren’t cheap, and they can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to acquire. Check with your airport to find out what’s required in order to get a permit, as some require you to take a class, or fill out large amounts of paperwork.

Uber Driver Requirements for your Vehicle

Uber also has a standard for the vehicles used for their clientele. However, the Uber Driver requirements may differ from one city and another. Uber’s website has a page that lists all their eligible vehicles for any zip code or vehicle make and model.

General Uber Driver Requirements for your vehicle are:

  • 10 years old or newer
  • Must have at least four doors
  • No salvage or restored title
  • License plates are valid and registered
  • Not a full-sized van
  • Not a taxi
  • Minimum of five total seat belts

Uber X Requirements

Uber offers different rideshare services based on the number of passengers and service speed. The type of car a driver has can also affect which service they are placed in. Uber X is pretty much the standard Uber service that services up to four riders. This would be the service for many mid-sized cars like the Toyota Prius, Honda Accord, or Civic.

These are the types of vehicles that are qualified for Uber X:

  • Car is 10 years or newer; some states may draw the limit at 15
  • At least five total seatbelts
  • Has four doors.

Uber XL Requirements

Uber XL is the service for larger groups of passengers looking for a ride. Rates are naturally higher because of this. Because of their storage space, XL Uber vehicles are often used for trips to the airport. This includes car models such as the GMC Acadia, Jeep Cherokee, and GMC Yukon XL, which can seat six people.

These cars must also satisfy the following Uber Driver requirements for vehicles:

  • Car is 10 or 15 years old or newer
  • At least seven total seatbelts
  • No vans or trucks

Uber Green Requirements

Uber Green is for cars that are electric or hybrid. If their carbon footprint is smaller than a standard car, then they will qualify as an Uber Green vehicle. This service is unique because passengers are given a surcharge of $1, which is split between the driver and Uber’s effort to reduce their own emissions. These cars are typically the same size as Uber X cars. Keep in mind that Uber Green may not be available everywhere.

Uber Green cars are typically:

  • Vehicle is a hybrid or electric model
  • At least five total seatbelts
  • Newer than 10 years old

Uber Black Requirements

Drivers with high-end, luxury vehicles are placed into the Uber Black service once their acceptance process is completed. This is the highest standard Uber sets for their cars and is applicable to both regular-sized cars and SUVs.

Uber Black and Uber Black SUVs usually include:

  • Black paint job
  • Leather seats and interior
  • Commercial car insurance and registration
  • Airport permits
  • Newer than 10 years

Uber Lux Requirements

Uber Lux is an exclusive service in New York and California. It features high-end car makes and models from brands like Porche, Mercedes, or Lexus.

They usually must be full-sized vehicles with the following features:

  • Four to six doors
  • Commercial car insurance
  • New than 10 years

Uber Eats Requirements

Uber Driver Requirements for food couriers are less stern than their other services since no passenger will be using them.

Virtually, any vehicle can be used for Uber Eats as long as it has:

  • Minimum of two doors
  • 20 years old or newer

What Taxes Do Uber Drivers Pay?

Unless stated otherwise in your local laws, Uber drivers are treated as independent contractors by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This means that taxes won’t automatically be taken out of your income and that it is your responsibility to declare your earnings and settle any tax bills.

Uber usually helps out its self-employed drivers by providing them with a tax summary and, when applicable, a 1099-K tax document to fill out and send to the IRS.

FAQs About Driving for Uber

Q: Safety: How Does Uber Manage Safety Concerns for Both Drivers and Riders?

A: Due to the nature of Uber’s model, there can be some hesitation when it comes to using the platform, for both drivers and riders. Some of the safety features available for drivers include:

  • Easy access to emergency assistance through the app
  • “Follow My Ride” which allows you to share your whereabouts with your friends and family so they can track your trips in real-time.
  • GPS tracking of all your trips, making it easy to pull up information should anything happen while you’re on the road
  • Driver and rider ratings. If a rider displays unacceptable behavior that you feel you should warn fellow drivers about, you’re always able to report your experience through ratings and through Uber’s easy customer service functionalities.
  • Trusted insurance providers allow you to confidently insure your vehicle for your business uses.

Q: What are the best practices for picking up a rider?

A: Once you’ve accepted the trip, a rider’s specific location will be indicated with an arrow. If you anticipate that your rider will be difficult to find, you may want to contact your rider and request that they use the Spotlight feature, which allows you to easily see an illuminated color that is specific to your ride.

Other tips to ensure a great rider experience is to pick them up on the side of the road on which they are waiting, making it a seamless experience right from the start. Once the rider approaches your vehicle, it is best practice to greet them by name to confirm that they are the correct driver. Once inside your vehicle, allow them to get settled and buckled in before starting to drive. From there, start a friendly conversation and make the customer experience as good as possible!

Q: I can’t find my rider, what do I do?

A: The standard wait time for a rider to meet you at the indicated destination is 5 minutes (less for UberPOOL rides). If you are unable to find or communicate with your rider, you can cancel the trip. At this point, the rider will be charged a cancellation fee which is then paid out to you to accommodate for your time spent waiting.

Q: Can I bring someone else along with me while I’m online and accepting Uber trip requests?

A: As part of Uber’s commitment to rider and driver safety, drivers are not allowed to have other passengers in the vehicle besides the official Uber rider(s).

Q: I feel much safer when I have a video camera or dash camera installed. Is this allowed while driving for Uber?

A: As long as your city’s laws allow this, you are permitted to install and actively use a video recording device in your vehicle while online and driving with Uber.

Q: I’ve gotten in an accident while on a trip with a rider. What should I do?

A: There are three basic steps to follow if you’ve been in an accident while completing a trip with an Uber passenger:

  1. Check the safety and wellbeing of yourself and your passenger(s)
  2. If the situation calls for it, contact the police and ambulance.
  3. Notify Uber when an accident has occurred. You can do this through the Trip Issues tab in the Uber app.

Q: I’ve moved and want to drive in a different city. Is this possible?

A: Since your Uber driver application is approved based on the city that you indicated during your application, your new city means that you will have to make some adjustments and reapply under the new circumstances. Luckily, though, you don’t have to go through the entire process all over again. Instead, head to Uber here and request a change to your account and submit for review.

5. Get your car inspected

All Uber and Lyft vehicles must pass a vehicle inspection. Then, potential drivers need to upload the inspection to their profiles.  

In some cities and states, certain cars only need to be inspected annually. Cities with stricter rules require drivers to have their vehicles inspected quarterly. Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy blog and podcast, suggests completing the vehicle inspection as soon as possible to speed up the application process.

What Are Uber Driver Requirements?

As long as you can pass Uber’s background check, you shouldn’t find it difficult to become an Uber driver (unless your city imposes some difficult requirements of its own).

Install the Uber app on your smartphone and create an account on Uber, including the bank account into which your earnings will be paid.

When you’re ready to start picking up passengers, tell the Uber app that you’re going online. Then wait.

Before long, the app will notify you about a passenger requesting a ride and show you a map with the passenger’s GPS coordinates. You pick up the passenger and take the person to his or her destination. Aware that the passenger can rate you afterward, you do your best to make the passenger feel welcome, comfortable, and satisfied.

Make sure you understand clearly where your pick up location is to avoid late arrivals

You just keep repeating this process, being notified about passengers and taking them to their destinations, until you’re done for the day. Then you tell the Uber app that you’re going offline. You can rate your passengers on their behavior.

Uber will deposit the money that you’ve earned into your bank account.

Reader Success Stories

  • Manqoba Ndebele

Mar 1, 2017

    Manqoba Ndebele Mar 1, 2017

    “I’d love to join as driver. This helped me to notice that such small things as giving bottle of water more often could lead to get more rating stars than I thought, and it shows that’s we as drivers need to take care of our riders.” …” more

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