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Rideshare driver behind the wheel receiving phone notification of a ride request.

If you're thinking of driving for Uber and Lyft, it isn't as simple as signing up, downloading the app, turning it on and accepting passengers.

Both companies have several requirements that drivers must meet for insurance, the age of their vehicle, their driving record and more.

Here's a rundown of the requirements you'll need to meet before you can drive for Uber or Lyft.

Uber driver requirements and Lyft driver requirements

Driver requirementsUberLyft
AgeMust meet the minimum age requirement to drive in your city.Must meet the minimum age requirement to drive in your city.
Driving experienceOne year of licensed driving experience or three years of licensed driving experience if you are under 23 years old.Depending on your state, you must have at least one year of licensed driving experience if you are 23 or older. Three years of experience if you are under 23.
Driving recordClean driving record essential. No DUI's or history of accidents, etc.No more than three moving violations in the last three years or a single major moving violation, including driving with a suspended license or reckless driving.
InsuranceYou must be listed as a driver on the personal auto insurance policy.You must be listed as a driver on the personal auto insurance policy.
Social Security NumberRequired for background check.Required for background check.
TechnologyMust have a smartphone to be able to download Uber app.Must have a smartphone to be able to download Lyft app.

Must have a four-door, minimum four-passenger vehicle with a model year that is no more than 15 years old

The vehicle cannot be damaged, have missing parts or commercial branding.

If you choose not to drive your own car, you must be listed as an insured driver on the vehicle's personal auto policy.

Must have a four-door vehicle with a minimum of five seatbelts.

Must meet the minimum vehicle age requirement for your city or state.

Rental cars are prohibited, except those obtained through Lyft's Express Drive program.

No subcompact vehicles are allowed.

State requirements for Uber and Lyft drivers

Requirements for rideshare driving vary by state and in some cases by individual markets. For example, Colorado requires a medical exam and drivers must display a "Driver Medical Certificate" in their vehicle at all times when they're working. That’s not necessary in most other states.

Other special state requirements include:

StateSpecial requirement examples
  • Display the Lyft emblem while in driver mode
  • Undergo annual vehicle inspection
  • Must display an airport placard in your windshield at Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco airports
  • Pay a General Excise Tax (GET)
  • Secure a Nevada business license
  • 22-point vehicle inspection, Lyft trade dress emblem and Nevada TNC permit number decal
  • Driver mode limited, so you can't exceed 12 hours of driving within a 24-hour period
  • If your vehicle has a lien against it, you must notify the lienholder that you’re using the vehicle for rideshare purposes
  • You must be at least 25 to drive in some parts of the state
Washington, D.C.
  • Must pass safety inspection in Virginia, D.C. or Maryland
  • Maryland drivers must have a TNO (Transportation Network Operator) license
  • Virginia state law requires drivers spend no more than 13 hours driving in a 24-hour period (Lyft's maximum limit is 12 hours)

Why Uber and Lyft drivers need rideshare insurance

Rideshare drivers must meet the minimum auto insurance requirements for their state. Drivers are also covered under Uber and Lyft's liability insurance policies when they are on the app and waiting for a ride request. That time known as Period 1. During this period, Uber's coverage and Lyft's coverage provide $50,000 of bodily injury per person, $100,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident and $25,000 of property damage coverage per accident.

Once you've accepted a ride request (Period 2), a passenger is in the vehicle and you're transporting them to their destination (Period 3), you’ll be covered under Uber and Lyft's contingent comprehensive and collision insurance and each company's liability policy. That includes $1 million of coverage. However, there are still coverage gaps during different phases of your trip.

"Drivers need to educate themselves on driving periods and what their rideshare company covers so that they know what periods they need additional coverage for," says Melanie Musson, an insurance expert for CarInsuranceComparison.com.

Since you can't be covered under your personal auto policy if you use your car for business purposes, it's best to get rideshare insurance, which can help to fill these coverage gaps.

"It's usually the best option to get a rideshare endorsement through your personal insurer. Their charge is usually cheaper than purchasing a stand-alone policy. You should definitely compare rates, though, because there are exceptions," Musson says.

Rideshare insurance isn't offered in every state, so start by checking with your personal auto insurer to see if the company offers it. Either way, shop around and compare insurance companies to see who offers the most comprehensive coverage at the most affordable price for your needs.

What does not rideshare insurance cover?

According to rideshare websites, the following may disqualify potential drivers.

ItemUber disqualificationLyft disqualification
LicenseSuspended, revoked or invalid licenseSuspended, revoked or invalid license
License platesInvalid registrationInvalid registration
Vehicle ageModel year more than 15 years oldNot meeting the minimum vehicle age requirement for your city or state
InsuranceSuspended, revoked, or invalid insurance. Insurance not in driver's nameSuspended, revoked, or invalid insurance. Insurance not in driver's name

Background check

  • Registered sex offender status.
  • Pending charges or convictions for felonies, violent crimes or sexual offenses.
  • Conviction in the last seven years for a DUI, fraud, reckless driving, felony or misdemeanor theft, among other offenses.

Among other things, Lyft disqualifies driver applicants for:

  • Violent crime
  • Felony
  • Sexual offense
  • Drug-related convictions that appear on a background check

Uber car requirements and Lyft car requirements

The most popular rideshare companies have similar vehicle requirements, with a few minor differences.

Car requirementsUberLyft
License platesValid plates required for the state in which you plan to driveValid plates required for the state in which you plan to drive
SeatingMust have seating and working seatbelts for at least four passengersMust have seating for four passengers with a minimum of five seatbelts
Vehicle ageModel year must be 15 years old or newerMust meet the minimum vehicle age requirement for your city or state
DoorsMust have at least four doorsMust have at least four doors that can open from interior and exterior; no jump doors
InspectionMust be able to pass a safety inspection. This can usually be performed at a licensed repair shop or partner location affiliated with the rideshare companyMust be able to pass a safety inspection. This can usually be performed at a licensed repair shop or partner location affiliated with the rideshare company

Other conditions exist; review your rideshare company's complete requirements before signing up.

9 Steps to become an Uber driver or Lyft driver

If you and your vehicle qualify, here's what you need to do to sign up:

  1. Complete an application online for Uber or Lyft.
  2. Submit information for a background check, including your Social Security number.
  3. Have your vehicle inspected at an authorized inspection center.
  4. Make sure you have the necessary auto insurance.
  5. Obtain an emblem or decal from the rideshare company. Display it on your windshield or dashboard.
  6. Once you're approved, download the app and software license for drivers on your smartphone.
  7. Enter the hours you are available to work on the app.
  8. Wait for riders to request a ride.

You can check the status of your application on Uber or Lyft's website.

4 tips for driving for Uber or Lyft

  1. Track your expenses: Track costs on a daily basis to determine exactly how much you earn an hour and so you have accurate expense records when filing tax returns.
  2. Get rideshare insurance: Reduce your financial liability if you get into an accident. Rideshare insurance can help to fill coverage gaps, especially during Period 1 when you're only covered by Uber and Lyft's liability policies.
  3. Understand the tax code: As an independent contractor, taxes aren't withheld from your paycheck. It is up to you to calculate the amount you owe the government. Setting aside money each month for taxes can prevent a big surprise at tax time.
  4. Drive early or late: Utilization (the time you spend with a passenger in the car) is critical to your success. During the very early morning or late evening hours, passengers may need rides to and from the airport or to and from your city's entertainment and dining district. These rides tend to be longer, which means you'll earn more from these trips. Taking the graveyard shift may help you earn more income.

Driving for Uber and Lyft comes with both advantages and disadvantages. You can earn extra money, but you also need to maintain your vehicle and have the right insurance protection to make ridesharing a viable business or side hustle. So, before you sign up for one of these services, make sure you truly understand all the costs associated with becoming a rideshare driver.

Frequently asked questions about Uber and Lyft ridesharing

How much does rideshare insurance cost?

The average increase to your policy for adding rideshare endorsement is 15%, or about $235 a year.

How old can your car be for Uber?

Your car must be no older than 15 years to qualify for Uber driving.

How old do you have to be to drive for Uber or Lyft?

For both Uber and Lyft, the driver age requirement is city and state specific. You can inquire with Uber or Lyft about the requirements for your location.

Has the pandemic changed Uber and Lyft car requirements?

The pandemic has added to ridesharing requirements. Drivers are required to leave their front clear of passengers, wear masks and sanitize the car between customers. Drivers are also encouraged to follow all CDC guidelines.

Additional reporting by Mark Vallet, Gina Pogol and Beth Orenstein.