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Lyft Requirements: Your Guide to Becoming a Lyft Driver

Last updated: December 13, 2018
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It’s no secret, ridesharing platforms like Lyft and Uber are here to stay. Not only have these services made transportation more convenient for urban dwellers, they have also provided a flexible employment option for drivers looking to make some cash on the side, or even drive full-time.

Besides the steady income, driving for a ridesharing platform like Lyft allows you to choose your own hours and be your own boss. Sound like something you’d be interested in?

It is relatively easy to become a Lyft driver, however, there are Lyft driver requirements, background checks, and a vehicle inspection you must pass.

We dug through the fine print and collected everything you need to know about Lyft’s driver application process.

Before we get started with the sign up process, let’s see if it makes sense for you to become a driver, go over some payment details, and prepare you with what you will need to confidently begin the application process.

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.

Driver Requirements

Lyft must uphold the highest safety standards by employing safe drivers that passengers trust and feel comfortable with. The platform only employs drivers who have a decent driving record and a clean criminal background.

In order to be a valid driver on the Lyft platform, you should not have major traffic violations or serious criminal charges. You must also be 21 years of age.

Let’s go more in depth on what’s required of you so there are no surprises when you apply.

Background Check

To begin the process, you must provide Lyft with your Social Security number for a criminal background check.

For the most part, this check is looking for major violations or felonies. Remember, safety is the number one priority for Lyft’s drivers and passengers.

The background check is administered by a third party and searches national and county level databases. The check goes back at least seven years, sometimes even further depending on local requirements.

So what exactly is this check looking for? You may be ineligible to drive if you have any of the following on your record:

  • Violent crime
  • Sexual offense
  • Disqualifying felony
  • Disqualifying drug-related offense
  • Disqualifying theft or property damage offense

After reviewing your results, Lyft reserves the right to refuse applicants who do not meet the required standards mentioned above.

DMV Driving Record Check

So you passed the criminal background check with flying colors. Now Lyft will see if you are a safe driver.

As long as you do not have a serious conviction or a bunch of traffic violations, you should be in the clear. Potential drivers must not have any of the following on their driving record:

  • More than three moving violations in three years (accidents or other minor infractions)
  • Major moving violation in past three years (suspended license, reckless driving, etc.)
  • DUI
  • Driver-related convictions in last seven years (hit-and-run or other driver felonies)

Again, Lyft will review the results and reserves the right to refuse employment if you do not meet the driver standards.

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?

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.

Vehicle Requirements

Now onto the vehicle you’ll be using. Lyft’s vehicle policy requires that your car passes certain safety standards and meets all city and state requirements.

As a driver for Lyft, you become the face of the company. That is why Lyft prefers newer vehicles that are safe and in great condition, both mechanically and cosmetically.

These standards may vary depending on the city and state you will be driving in, but regardless your vehicle must have four doors and at least five seat belts. It also cannot be a taxi or limousine.

Here’s what you can expect from the safety inspection.

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.

Lyft Payment

Speaking of pay, how exactly do Lyft drivers make money? Lyft drivers make money through a few different rates that are calculated every time they give a passenger a ride.

They also see additional money come in through increased bonus rates and passenger tips. The typical fare is laid out as follows.

Calculating a Fare

Once you arrive at your customer’s destination, you will confirm your arrival in the app. After one minute, your fare will begin. This means that you are also compensated for wait time if your customer is taking long to get into your vehicle.

Here is what goes into each fare:

  • Base Fare: This is a flat rate customers pay for each ride.
  • Cost Per Minute: The longer you drive, the more you earn.
  • Cost Per Mile: You are also compensated for distance driven.
  • Tips: You receive tips through the app or by cash. Either way you keep 100%!
  • Bonuses: There are several types of bonuses that will help you earn more driving.

Don’t forget, Lyft does have to make money somehow. Here is the portion of the fare that Lyft takes from drivers:

  • Lyft Platform Fee: This is the difference between what the passenger pays and your earnings plus all additional fees. It is said to go towards growing the Lyft business and increasing demand for rides.
  • Service Fee: This is a flat rate that goes towards Lyft’s operational costs.

Depending on which city and region you are driving in, rates and fares will vary. Although, regardless of where you are driving there will always be a minimum fare to compensate for those rides that are quite short.

Also, there is a maximum rate that customers are obligated to pay. Therefore if you have an extremely long trip you can only be paid up to a certain amount.

After that you can suggest that a rider takes another form of transportation or goes back into the app to book another trip.

How Do You Get Paid?

Lyft starts paying out its employees at 5 AM on Tuesday of every week. The payment processing may take about two to three business days depending on which bank you have.

If that isn’t fast enough for you, you can set up Express Pay and receive your money within hours, or one or two days. This allows drivers to cash out more quickly, however, you are not able to withdraw any bonus related earnings.

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Signing Up: Step-by-Step

So you have read through the guide above and think driving for Lyft is the right fit for you. Great!

Now that you know what it takes to be a driver, head to Lyft’s website and let’s get this sign up process rolling.

The sign up process walks you through four main stages: Vehicle Information, Driver Information, Driver Consents, Upload Documents.

1. Vehicle Information

First, you will submit your personal information (name, email address, city you will be driving in) and confirm your identity through a verification code that is sent to your cell phone.

Then you will input all of your vehicle information to see if your car is allowed on the Lyft platform.

Screen Shot 2018 10 17 at 12.15.22 AMScreen Shot 2018 10 17 at 12.16.55 AM

2. Driver Information

Driver information includes submitting your social security number and uploading a picture of your driver’s license.

If for any reason your in state driver’s license is under one year old, you will need to provide a secondary license from the previous state you were driving in. This is due to the fact that Lyft only hires drivers that have more than one year driving experience.

Screen Shot 2018 10 17 at 12.17.27 AMScreen Shot 2018 10 17 at 12.18.12 AM

3. Driver Consents

After plugging in your personal, vehicle, and driver details, you will now need to consent to a background check.

By consenting to this background check you are allowing a third party to scan your criminal background, driving reports, and other reputation based reports.

Screen Shot 2018 10 17 at 12.35.31 AM

4. Upload Documents

Finally, you are almost there! Now you just need to upload copies of all of your driving documents. These include your vehicle registration and proof of auto insurance.

After that you are all set. Now it’s just a matter of waiting to hear back from Lyft on the results of your application and background check. If you have been approved they will direct you with further instructions regarding your vehicle inspection and other related onboarding activities.

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.

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