How to become an Uber driver

Interested in becoming an Uber driver, but unsure where to start? Our guide will taxi you through the process, step by step

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It seems like a long time ago now that rumours were circling of a taxi service you could order and track on a mobile app – but then a lot has changed since 2009, when Uber first launched to become the largest taxi company in the world.

There are lots of positives to be gained from working for such a big player. As a driver with Uber, you can benefit from the flexibility of working when and where is most suitable for you -and you also have the potential to maximise the earning opportunities available to you, as longer trips during in-demand times can also see you benefit from increased charges.

But there are also some major differences in the way that Uber drivers must operate compared to other private firm or freelancer requirements, as well as how you are paid for your time. These are all things you need to know about before you can start your engines and zoom off into the sunset.

So, whether you're completely new to the taxi industry, or a seasoned driver looking to make the switch, the below guide will take you through the ins and outs of the qualification process to becoming an Uber driver.

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Sign up to Uber

First of all, you need to sign up to the app online. This requires you to fill in a short form with your personal details, as well as select if you have a car or not.

You’ll need to download the Uber app onto your smartphone or other device.

Note that it’s possible to sign up for, then attend an Uber Ignition appointment. This provides information based on your individual requirements, such as which required items and documents you’ll need to provide.


Meet the driver and vehicle requirements

To be an Uber driver, you’ll need:

  • The Uber app
  • A private hire licence
  • An eligible vehicle
  • A smartphone or tablet
  • A bank account to receive your earnings

To operate an Uber service, you’ll need to obtain a private hire licence, which needs to be from a council that has permitted Uber to operate.

The timeframe and costs for getting a private hire licence can vary considerably, depending on your location. Uber offers a guide on get a private hire licence in the UK, as well as specifically in London.

To get a Private Hire Driver Licence, you’ll need to obtain an enhanced DBS background check. This is available from the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Both you and your vehicle will need to meet eligibility criteria.

Drivers must:

  • Be aged 21 years or older
  • Hold a valid UK driver’s licence (EU licences have to be converted prior to going through the onboarding process)
  • Have the necessary driving experience. The number of years varies depending on the city you’ll be offering an Uber service in – for example, in London, a minimum of three years’ driving experience is required

All cars used for driving with Uber should be from no earlier than 2008.

The local Uber team in each city can also inform you of any other standards that vehicles need to meet in order to operate in those particular locations.

It’s possible to be an Uber driver without your own car. Uber’s Vehicle Solutions programme offers a range of rental and finance options. Uber also has a sister company called PartnerPoint, which offers deals on renting and leasing cars – however, these can be quite expensive.

Buying a vehicle is a large upfront cost, and will require a hefty amount of funds before you can get started and begin making profit.
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In addition to a private hire licence, you’ll also need the following documents for yourself and your vehicle.

Personal documents

  • National Insurance (NI) number
  • Original plastic UK driving licence
  • Electronic Counterpart code
  • PCO Paper Licence (you’ll need to bring this with you to your scheduled visit)

Vehicle documents

  • PHV licence
  • Log book/new keepers slip
  • MOT (issued within the previous six months)
  • Private hire insurance certificate

Note that the vehicle documents can either be brought with you, or uploaded at a later date once you have them.

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Attend an in-person appointment

Next, you’ll need to schedule and attend an in-person appointment, during which you can activate your account. To start driving with Uber, you’ll need to bring the necessary documents to this visit, too. Options for scheduling an appointment are available online.

Uber has offices in a number of cities in the UK, including London, Brighton, Manchester and Cardiff. You can see the full list here.


How to become an Uber driver in London

In the UK, some of the most popular areas in which Uber operates are London, Manchester, Brighton, Leeds and Merseyside. It is also widely used in the East and North East of England, as well as the Midlands.

If you’re interested in running your Uber service in London, there are some specific requirements for operating as an Uber driver in the capital.

In addition to other standard Uber requirements, you’ll need to have a Transport for London (TfL) private hire licence. This is often referred to as a PCO licence, which stands for Public Carriage Office (the TfL department that awards the licence).

You can do this independently, or apply for a London PCO via Uber’s Ignition programme. There are different sessions available depending on whether or not you have a Private Hire Licence already – these include introductory sessions, as well as additional support sessions for applications.

Uber Ignition is a free programme that provides information to assist with getting the relevant TfL licence. It offers in-person support at a centre in London.

A medical check and an English language test are both part of the private hire licence application process.You can read about these aspects, as well as the other steps, on the Uber London Ignition page.

  • Almost 4 in 10 Uber trips begin or finish within 200m of a tube/train station
  • In central London, the average pickup time is less than 3.5 minutes

In 2020, Uber successfully appealed a ban that would have stopped it from being able to do business in the UK capital. This does mean however, that there is a possibility Uber could be banned in London in the future.


Get insurance

Uber offers insurance options to eligible drivers and delivery partners via AXA, which you can read more about here. Private hire vehicle insurance options are also available to you independently.

Once cover has been agreed, you’ll need to upload your Insurance Certificate or Temporary Cover Note to Uber’s platform.


Start driving

Uber refers to drivers as ‘partners' and passengers as ‘riders'. In order to accept a trip and collect a rider, you’ll need to follow the steps below:

  1. Open the app
  2. Select ‘go’
  3. The app will partner you with a nearby rider
  4. Collect the rider

You can accept a request for a journey with a swipe. While you’re paid for each trip you make, you’ll receive your earnings (minus Uber’s fees) on a weekly basis via automatic deposits.

Note that you will need to register for VAT if you go over the VAT registration threshold, which currently stands at £85,000 annual turnover. You can find out more about this on Uber’s tax information page.

You can also maximise your earning potential with Uber Eats, the company’s dedicated food delivery service, through which you collect food from eateries and deliver it to customers.

What support is available?

The Uber app provides driving directions, as well as offering access to 24/7 support.

Support can be contacted via the app or the company’s helpline, as well as online. You can also arrange in-person support at an Uber Greenlight Hub.

Riders can also give drivers feedback, using a rating system and profile. For drivers’ feedback, Uber offers UberENGAGE, where drivers are represented by other experienced partners local to each area.


What are the next steps?

At the beginning of this article, you were probably thinking: ‘How do I become an Uber driver?’ From reading this guide, we’ve covered the key processes and steps involved in becoming an Uber driver, from getting your private hire licence to accepting rider requests.

Uber might have the monopoly on taxi services, but it isn't the only option available if you want to be a driver – particularly for cities outside of London. Read our guide on how to start a taxi and private hire firm to find out more.

Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.

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