Lyft Requirements: Your Guide to Becoming a Lyft Driver

Have you considered driving for Lyft? It’s a great side-gig, or a full-time gig (if you’re good at optimizing your income). Like most jobs in the gig-economy, you are in control of how much you make, or how much you don’t make, as a Lyft driver. We’ve heard stories of Lyft drivers making well under...

Have you considered driving for Lyft? It’s a great side-gig, or a full-time gig (if you’re good at optimizing your income).

Like most jobs in the gig-economy, you are in control of how much you make, or how much you don’t make, as a Lyft driver. We’ve heard stories of Lyft drivers making well under minimum wage, but we also know it’s possible to make $20 an hour, or even more!

If you are only interested in supplementing your main income, you can only drive for Lyft a few hours a week. If you want to drive for Lyft full-time, you’ll need to create a detailed strategy to maximize your time behind the wheel.

To sweeten the pot, Lyft also offers great incentive programs like weekly ride challenges, prime time rates, guaranteed incomes, sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses, and more. Play your strategies well and take advantage of promotions and you might just be able to quit your day job.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before you can start earning money as a Lyft driver, you’re going to need to complete the sign-up process and make sure you meet the vehicle requirements.

Check out the Lyft requirements outlined in this article (basic Lyft driver and vehicle requirements) and sign up to drive for as much as a $500 bonus!


Why Become a Lyft Driver?

The two main selling points for becoming a Lyft driver are the flexibility and being your own boss. Setting your own hours allows you to work when it’s convenient for you.

If it makes sense to work mornings and spend your afternoons with friends and family, you can do that. If you have a day job and wish to work the midnight shift on the weekends, you can do that too. Shifts are completely up to you and there is no requirement as to how long they must be.

While having a flexible work schedule and being your own boss are great perks, it is important to know everything that comes along with being a Lyft driver, even the negative aspects.

When first starting out as a Lyft driver, it may require a great deal of patience getting on your feet. After all, it is a new occupation and it will take some time to work the kinks out.

We can almost guarantee that you will not flick on the app for your first shift and be making great money instantly. It may take time to scale up your earnings as you learn the ins and outs of maximizing your income.

Driving for a ridesharing platform like Lyft also requires a particular type of person. It will take a lot of hustle and dedication to earn the income you desire.

You will also need to be ready to be around customers on a daily basis. If you are shy you should be prepared to interact with your customers and carry on casual conversation.

If you can master the driving skills needed to churn out fares and the soft skills to bring in great tips, you will not be disappointed with the pay.


Lyft Driver Requirements

Before we go any farther, there are a few basic requirements to be a Lyft driver. We will go into each of these requirements in more depth, but wanted to outline them upfront. If you don’t pass one of these requirements, there are loads of gigworker opportunities out there.

A screenshot of the basic Lyft driver and vehicle requirements

In order to be a Lyft driver, you must meet these very basic requirements.

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Pass a free online DMV check
  • Pass a free online background check
  • Valid phone number and iPhone or Android smartphone (so you can run the Lyft app)

In addition to the basic driver requirements, your vehicle also has to meet certain requirements. Lyft offers a variety of vehicle options for passengers which we will discuss in more detail.

For now, these are the minimum vehicle requirements for Lyft:

1. Meet your city’s vehicle age requirement

This age requirement varies from city to city. To find your vehicle age requirement, head to this page, scroll down and select your state. Here are some examples of the various vehicle age requirements:

  • New York State: 2003 or newer
  • Colorado: 2003 or newer
  • California 2002 or newer (2004 or newer in select cities)
  • Illinois: 2002 or newer
  • Vermont: 2008 or newer

2. Have at least four doors

This is not including jump doors (half doors for cramped back seats in trucks or SUVs). This requirement makes sense since you are going to pick up passengers who will need to sit in your back seat. Two-door vehicles would be a pain for passengers.

3. Offer 5-8 seats

This is including the driver’s seat. Five seats is the minimum for being a Lyft or Uber driver. That means you will need to be able to fit at least 3 passengers in the back seat, 1 up front, and yourself in the driver’s seat.

If you meet the above driver and vehicle requirements, Lyft will need proof of your identity and proof that you can legally drive a vehicle. They also use these documents to conduct your background check (more on that later).

Driver and Vehicle Documents

Next up, you need to make sure you have all the right paperwork required to be a Lyft driver. This means you must be an eligible driver with an insured vehicle that is permitted on the road.

When completing your application process, you will need to upload pictures of the following documents to the online driver profile:

  • Valid driver’s license: License cannot be expired. You are able to show a temporary license, however, you must show your permanent license once you receive it.
  • Valid vehicle license plate and registration: Some states may require that you have in-state documentation. Commercial plates are also acceptable.
  • Valid car insurance policy: The policy must be under your name.
  • Driver photo: Say cheese! Lyft requires a picture for your profile. Think of it as your ice breaker for all of your passengers when they book a ride with you.
  • Additional documents: Varies based on state, if they’re needed at all.

The Lyft DMV Check

If you want to drive for Lyft, you’ve got to go through a check of your driving record. Because, of course, they want to make sure you’re a safe driver. No one wants to ride in a car that has a reckless operator at the wheel!

In general, if you don’t have any serious driving violations, you’ll be approved to drive.

With that said, Lyft has some standards that you’ll need to meet if you want to be a driver. If not, your application probably won’t be approved. Lyft will also be looking to make sure you meet applicable state or province and local regulations for safe rideshare drivers.

Lyft gets some help from a third party company that actually performs the driving history check. That company is looking for things in your record that would prevent you from being a Lyft driver.

If your driving record comes back and you have any of the following, you won’t be approved as a Lyft driver:

  • Four or more moving violations like accidents, running stoplights, etc. within the past 3 years
  • Any major moving violation (reckless driving, driving without a license, etc.) in the past 3 years
  • Any under the influence of alcohol or drugs citation like a DUI or DWI within the past 7 years
  • A court conviction for a driving-related crime like a felony related to a vehicle or a hit and run

If you pass the DMV check, you have to maintain that good driving record. Lyft reserves its right to end its relationship with you if your driving record changes to include any of the above offenses or if a safety issue arises.

If you don’t pass the DMV check, Lyft will let you know. They’ll email you a copy of the results and instructions on how to dispute anything on the report that you don’t agree with.


The Lyft Background Check

Along with the driving record check, Lyft will also do a background check to make sure you can be trusted as a driver. The criminal background check makes your riders feel safe. They’ll know that they’re being ferried by a person they can trust.

The main thing Lyft is looking for is a criminal record. If you’ve never been convicted of a crime, you really don’t have anything to worry about.

For Lyft to run your background check, you have to provide them with your Social Security number. Lyft will then give that number to the third-party company that actually runs the check.

If you don’t meet Lyft’s standards or the regulations in your city, state or province, and other applicable regulations, Lyft won’t approve your application. The check screens for driving-related incidents and criminal history.

The check is run on databases at the county as well as national level. They may also check courthouse records going back seven years or more.

Offenses that can get your application rejected:

  • Violent crimes (assault, robbery, battery, murder, etc.)
  • Sex-related crimes and offenses
  • Disqualifying felonies
  • Disqualifying drug or drug-related offenses
  • Disqualifying crimes and offenses of theft or property damage

Note: In New York City, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) conducts the background check instead of Lyft according to the TLC’s licensing standards

Again, Lyft reserves its right to end its relationship with you if you are flagged as not being in compliance with the law, commit a disqualifying offense, or for any reason related to safety.

Background checks take a while to process. Be prepared to wait several weeks. Even if you don’t pass the background check, they’ll still email you the results. Like with the DMV check, they will also give you instructions on how to dispute the results.


Lyft Vehicle Requirements

As we mentioned above, there are some basic vehicle requirements if you want to use your car to drive for Lyft. First, your car needs to be in good condition with no visible damage. No one wants to ride in a beater, so Lyft requires a few things of its vehicle fleet. People have to be comfortable and safe. Plus, the comfort of your car can make a difference in your tips! Keep your vehicle in tip-top shape if you want to increase your earnings!

What Lyft requires in relation to vehicles varies a bit from state to state. For a detailed list of what’s required in your state or province, check out this page, scroll down (really, just pass the signup stuff and scroll), and select your state or province.

But, for a quick rundown, here’s a list of the basic requirements for most states or provinces:

  • Vehicle must be newer than a certain year (this varies, but none are older than 2002, in some states your car must be less than 10 years old)
  • Has to have 4 doors
  • Must have 5-8 seats including the driver’s
  • Seatbelts required for all seats

For higher-end rides, there are advanced requirements. For example, they typically must be newer models than are required for regular cars – usually a minimum of 2010 – 2015.

To find out if your car fits high-end requirements, click the links to see how your ride stacks up:

  • Lyft Lux: High-end, four seats, the perfect way to add a little luxury and arrive in style
  • Lyft Lux Black: Premium black car service limited to only the most luxurious makes and models
  • Lyft Lux Black XL: Premium black SUV service with space for parties up to six passengers

Be aware that to accept high-end rides (which pay more!) you have to turn on the ability to do so on the app – see this page for details.


Vehicle Inspection

There is a good chance that you will be required to complete a vehicle inspection. This inspection must be conducted by a Lyft-approved mechanic located in your area.

The inspection ensures that your car is in good condition, both from a mechanical and cosmetic stand point.

Your vehicle should not be damaged. All of the safety features should be in working order, like your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and seat belts.

Not only does Lyft want your vehicle to be safe and in good condition, it must also pass the vehicle age requirements of your state. Each state has its own vehicle age requirements, the earliest being 2002.

For more information on vehicle inspection details and requirements, head to your state’s driver page.

Don’t Own a Vehicle?

That’s OK! Lyft will actually help you rent a vehicle. It’s called the Express Drive program and it offers drivers an easy way to rent a vehicle at a reduced rate.

In a nutshell, you rent a vehicle at a weekly rate and are able to offset the costs by giving rides to Lyft customers. If you give enough weekly rides you can cover some or even all of your rental costs.

Driving a new vehicle is not only great from a personal standpoint, it is also beneficial from a business standpoint. You get to drive a brand new car on and off the clock, plus you reap the benefits of customers potentially giving you better tips since you always have that new car smell!

The best part is that insurance and routine maintenance fees are covered. Your rental also doesn’t have a mileage limit.

The program is offered in 30 major markets, so make sure to see if you qualify before getting too excited.


Phone Requirements

In order to use the Lyft driver app without experiencing difficulties, it is required that you have a smartphone that is updated with the most current software.

You will be using your phone during as your GPS during every shift, so it is imperative that you have an up to date smartphone that is in good condition.

Here are the software requirements for the following mobile devices:

  • iPhone: iOS 11 or higher
  • Android: Android 8 or higher

Simple enough, right?


It’s Time to Start Driving

Now that you understand the Lyft driving requirements, it’s time for you to hit the road! With your new flexible work schedule, you now have a perfect opportunity to earn extra income.
As long as you have a clean criminal record, a decent driving history, and a reliable means of transportation, you should be picking up your first riders soon enough.

Remember that each state has its own driver rules, so make sure to check your state’s driver info before applying.


Owner of Gigworker.com 

Brett Helling is the owner of Gigworker.com. Since an early age, he has started business ventures and worked various side hustles in many different niches. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber and Lyft. In 2014 he started a website to share his experiences with other drivers, which has now become Ridester.com. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche by building and growing Gigworker.com. As the site grows, his insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more.

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