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6 Steps to Becoming an Uber or Lyft Driver

how to become a rideshare driver
Credit: Mr.Whiskey/Shutterstock

Employees increasingly value flexibility and work-life balance, as evidenced by the rapid growth of the gig economy. One popular gig job is rideshare driving for companies like Uber and Lyft.  

The ability to work whenever you want is the number one reason people sign up to drive, said Harry Campbell, founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast.

"Pay is a close second, but a lot of drivers value being able to set their own hours and be their own boss," he said.

Rideshare drivers typically earn $15 to $20 per hour, Campbell told Business News Daily. Plus, some individuals are approved to drive for Uber or Lyft in just a couple days. Whether you want to drive as a full-time gig or a side hustle, here are the six steps it takes to become a rideshare driver.

Driver requirements for Uber

According to Uber's website, each city and state has specific requirements for Uber drivers. However, in most states, potential drivers need to be at least 21 years old with three or more years of U.S. driving experience, or 23 years old with one or more years of U.S. driving experience. All drivers must have a valid driver's license, vehicle registration, a clean driving record and no criminal history.

Uber conducts background checks that scan the last seven years of your driving history. Drivers can't have DUI or drug-related offenses, involvement in any fatal accidents, a history of reckless driving, or a criminal record.

Driver requirements for Lyft

All Lyft drivers must be at least 21 years old and have had an active U.S. driver's license for at least a year, according to Lyft.com.

Potential drivers must also undergo a driving record check and a criminal background check. People are ineligible to drive if they have more than three moving violations in the past three years, a major moving violation in the past three years, a DUI or other drug-related violation in the past seven years, or any driving-related conviction in the last seven years.

Individuals can't be a Lyft driver if they have been convicted of a violent crime, a felony, a drug-related offense, a sexual offense or theft offenses. Drivers must also have a current driver's license, plates with current registration and insurance.

Riders don't want to be stuck on the highway with a broken-down car. It's important for vehicles to meet specific requirements to be used as rideshare cars.

Uber vehicle requirements

Every Uber vehicle must meet several key requirements. Additional requirements may apply depending on what product you plan to offer, such as UberSELECT, according to Uber.com.  

Vehicle requirements vary in different cities and states. In some cities, vehicles can be as old as 2002, but in others, they can't be older than 2010. Regardless of the location, all Uber vehicles need to have four doors.

Vehicles should be in good condition with no cosmetic damage and no commercial branding. All vehicles are required to pass an inspection.  

Lyft vehicle requirements

Lyft vehicles must have four doors, and the doors must be able to open and close from inside and outside of the car. Passengers must also be able to unlock and lock their own doors, and there must be at least five seat belts, according to Lyft.com.   

Engine, suspension, steering and brakes must be working and safe. If drivers are asked to fix these during an inspection, they must get it fixed by a mechanic. All the lights should be working, including both high- and low-beam headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and reverse lights.

Tires need to have sufficient tread, wipers need to be functional, the horn must work, and front seats need to be able to move forward and backward. Air conditioning and heat should be working properly.

Windows and mirrors can't have cracks, and windows need to work right. Tailpipe and mufflers should be within the state standards and shouldn't be modified. Lastly, Lyft cars can't have body damage or dents.

At some point during the application process, Uber and Lyft will ask for documents. Potential drivers need to upload their driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. To streamline the application process, you should have these documents photographed and ready to go before starting an application.

In the photos of the documents, the driver's name should be clearly listed on the vehicle's proof of insurance and license documents. Ensure all documents are up to date and aren't expired. Upload images that are clear and easy to understand.

Once you have reviewed the requirements and determined that you meet them, it's time to start the application. But, before you apply, try to find a referral code.

"You can sign up to drive with any driver's referral link in order to be eligible for a sign-up bonus or guaranteed referral," Campbell said.

If you don't already have an Uber or Lyft account, you'll need to create one. Once you are logged in, look for a button that says "drive with Uber" or "sign up to drive."

Press the button, then follow the on-screen directions. You'll be asked to submit personal information, such as your Social Security number and direct deposit information.  

When applying to Uber, potential drivers are able to go to a local Uber Greenlight location to ask questions or talk to someone about the application process.

For Lyft, drivers can check the application process at any time at Lyft.com/drivers. Applications may be held up because of background checks, which can sometimes take several weeks to process.

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, but in cities with stricter rules, drivers must get their vehicles inspected at least once every four months. Campbell suggested getting the vehicle inspection done as fast as possible, because it will speed up the application process.

The last step before you are a rideshare driver is waiting for your application to be accepted. Many factors determine how long the process will take, but Campbell said most drivers are approved in five to seven days.

While potential drivers are waiting to hear if they are approved, they should ensure they have a working smartphone, which is needed to use both Uber and Lyft platforms. Once your application is approved and you have a working smartphone, you can hit the road, pick up your first passenger and start earning money.

Saige Driver

Saige Driver graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in journalism. She started her career at a radio station in Indiana, and is currently a B2B staff writer at Business News Daily. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.