For all its faults, the 'gig economy' has opened up an instant, fuss-free revenue stream for thousands of Aussie motorists. By far the most popular option is the ride-sharing service Uber, which recently entered its sixth year in Australia.
If you want to become an UberX driver, here's everything you'll need to get started.
The good news is that partnering with Uber is surprisingly easy. As an independent contractor, there are no exorbitant licence fees, compulsory shifts or complicated rosters to worry about.
You get to set your own schedule and get paid weekly based on the rider fares you earn. You can work as a driver strictly on weekends, fit in lifts around your regular job or do it 9-5 on weekdays - the choice is yours.
Uber's sign-up process is pretty straightforward, but there are a handful of requirements that it pays to know about in advance. Here's everything a budding Uber driver needs to be aware of.
What are UberX's vehicle requirements?
To partner with Uber as a driver, you're obviously going to need a car to get around in. Provided you own a valid Australian driver's licence, you don't even need to own your own vehicle - click here for more information on how this works.
For the sake of brevity, we're going to assume that you're planning to use your own car. This will need to meet UberX's vehicle requirements, which include the following:
- In excellent working condition
- No older than the maximum age for the Uber vehicle option chosen (generally a 2008 model or newer)
- A 4-door car or passenger van
- No more than 8-seats, including the driver’s seat
- Able to pass a pink slip inspection
- Registered and CTP-insured in your state/territory
- Free from cosmetic damage and commercial branding
- Have working windows and air conditioning
According to Uber, most 4-door cars without any obvious signs of damage should fit the bill, although requirements vary depending on the vehicle option you go with.
Driving with UberX: What Documents Do You Need?
To complete the UberX application process, you will need the following documents:
- A valid, full driver’s licence for your state or territory (well, duh)
- Your passport or birth certificate
- Proof of vehicle insurance as required in the state or territory you plan to drive in
- Any other documents required in the state or territory you plan to drive in
- A driver profile photo (more on which below)
These documents must be uploaded as part of the signup process.
Do Uber drivers need to supply a photo?
Yes. Your Driver Profile pic must be a forward-facing, centered photo that includes your full face and top of shoulders, with no sunglasses. (i.e. - treat it like a passport photo.) The photo cannot include anyone other than the driver and must be well-lit and in focus.
You're not allowed to use a scan of your driver's license photo or other printed photograph. If you don't have a camera, head to a passport photography service (such as your local chemist) and request a digital copy.
What are Uber's Driver licence requirements?
Naturally, you will need a valid driver's licence in your state or territory to become a Driver with UberX. In most cases, you will also need to have held your full driver’s licence for at least 12 months.
Do Uber drivers need to be a minimum age?
Yes. Uber Drivers must be at least 21 years of age. If you're between the ages of 18 and 20, you may want to consider UberEATS instead.
Are drivers required to take a background check?
Yes. A background check is part of the signup process. It includes a Motor Vehicle Record review and a criminal background check. As Uber explains on its website:
"Major driving violations or a recent history of minor driving violations may result in disqualification. Convictions for felonies, violent crimes, sexual offenses, and registered sex offender status, among other types of criminal records, are also disqualifying.
"Pending charges for those categories of crimes are also disqualifying, unless and until such charges are resolved in a driver partner or potential driver partner's favor."
Uber driver insurance requirements
As an Uber driver, you need to be listed as an insured driver for the vehicle you plan to drive.
How much money do Uber driver earn?
Ah, the million dollar question. What a driver earns per ride can vary depending on a range of factors, including city location, prevalence of surge charging and the number of rides you accept in any given week.
As Uber explains on its website:
"Trip fares start with a base amount, then increase with time and distance. And when demand is higher than normal, driver-partners can earn more with dynamic pricing."
Drivers retain around 70 per cent of rider fees which vary depending on where you live and when you drive. It's possible to get a rough estimate by using Uber's fare calculator. Just be mindful that other factors - including surge pricing, your driving routes and the prevalence of other drivers - may impact what you earn, in both directions.
How and when do I get paid?
There are two ways to receive payments as a driver: you can either set up weekly automatic direct deposits to your bank account, or use the Cash Out option which allows you to request deposits outside the payment schedule. "If you choose to use the Cash Out feature, any balance available to you at the time you cash out is deposited to your debit card," Uber explains.
For more information on payment options, click here.
What else do I need to get started?
Naturally, you will need a smartphone equipped with the Uber Driver app. This is how you communicate with riders in your area and accept fares from them. The app is available on Android and iOS. (If you're not a technology person, don't worry - it's all pretty straightforward and user-friendly. If you can use Google Maps you can use the Uber app.)