Driving a car is often about impressing people but not so much about something that is built to last. But if you want to be a cabbie for a ride-sharing service, you have to take both of those aspects into consideration.
Uber is one of the major ride-sharing companies across the globe. They are a big, growing corporation that means the business is always looking to expand the footprint despite the PR troubles that they have had in the last few years. Whether you want to be a passenger or a driver with the company, there are a few rules that you should be aware of.
Uber’s Requirements for a Driver
To be a driver with Uber, here’s what you need to have or be.
- You must be at least 18 years old to use the Uber app but to sign up for the UberX drivers’ platform you have to be at least 21 years old. If you are from New York, the rules may vary.
- You must have a valid drivers’ license and be using it for at least a year if you are 21 years old. If you are under 23, you must have had it for three years. Bizarre! Agreed.
- You must have a car insurance plan in your name at the time of applying for the job. And the plan must meet the minimum auto insurance requirements.
- You must have a driving record without any history of DUIs or speeding violations. We’ll go into a little more detail about that in a bit.
- You cannot have a criminal history which means any past conviction for felonies or violent crimes.
- You must have a valid Social Security Number which you will have to submit for a background check.
- You must have a phone that can be used to download the Uber app.
Uber’s Requirements for a Vehicle
The requirements are not just for the driver but also for the vehicle you will be using to provide Uber’s service to its customers.
- Your vehicle must have a valid license plate issued by the state in which you will be driving.
- The car must have at least four doors and enough space for four people with seat belts.
- Your car must not be older than 10 to 15 years.
- The vehicle must pass a safety inspection before it is cleared to be used as a Uber taxi.
But here’s a major bummer for those who have been in the business for a while. You cannot use a car that you have already used for a similar service in the past. You might want to contact Uber if you have an issue with this clause.
After Submitting the Application
The application process is rather simple. So you won’t need any guidance in doing it. Just head to the website and get started. What you need to know is what comes after.
Visit Uber partners after the submission and to My Profile. This will display the status of your application and here’s how to read it.
- Onboarding means Uber is reviewing your documents and doing a background check on you based on the Social Security Number you gave them. This should be done in about a week or seven working days. If it takes longer, you must contact Uber.
- Waitlisted means there might be some problem with your documents and they are being checked again. Sometimes, this means that Uber is doing a background check again. Don’t worry just yet. Let them do their thing.
- Considered means your background check is underway and there might be some issues that they are re-checking. This too should be done within those seven working days mentioned above. If it takes longer, be prepared for rejection. We’ll go into detail about this in a minute.
- Active means you have been accepted and it is time for you to log in and accept rides. Congratulations. You’re in.
- Rejection means, well, you know what it means. This could also mean deactivated if you have been around. This is most likely because of issues in your background check. You can apply again in three to eight months.
What Does Uber Look for in a Background Check?
The background check is a key step in almost all the stages of your application process. Broadly speaking, there are two steps to this process. One is a Motor Vehicle Report or MVR review and then there is a criminal background check. They don’t care about your credit rating.
This step is different from one city to another. It is based on the local laws and regulations for ride-sharing services along with Uber’s own safety standards. Like in real estate, location is a big part of this industry. Local laws sometimes have their own rules about the things Uber must verify while doing a background check. So, while you might be disqualified for certain serious offenses and driving history in one state, it might not be the same everywhere else.
Uber background checks are done by Checkr, which is a third-party background check service provider. It is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association.
Motor Vehicle Report
About the first part of the background check. The MVR checks if you have a valid US license and have at least a year of driving experience in the country. You must have at least three years of driving experience in the US if you’re under 23 years of age.
The report also checks if you have an active license that is free from Uber’s disqualification factors. These include major driving violations or multiple minor driving violations in the recent past. They also look for no-fault accidents that might get you disqualified.
Criminal Background Check
This is done in accordance with the laws of a particular state and the local laws of your area. Convictions for offenses like murder, sexual assault, terrorism and related offenses will be looked into. Most of them, as you can imagine, are grounds for disqualification. The check also covers other serious criminal convictions that occurred at any point in time in your life.
You will also be disqualified if you are in the national sex offender registry. Other serious felonies and violent crimes are also major red flags. If you have any pending charges that are no good either unless, of course, the tide turns in your favor. Even if you have not been convicted yet, you cannot apply to be an Uber driver. If you do, it comes up in your background check and you will be disqualified.
So, automatic disqualifications are due to:
- Violent crimes like kidnapping, murder or assault
- Sexual offenses like abuse, harassment and rape
- Terrorism and related charges
- Theft or property damage
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
How Long Does It Take?
A background check by Uber typically takes three to five working days. But this is only an estimate and not a rule. It is to help you do your own calculation while tracking your application. The process can take longer depending on where you are applying to be a driver, county courthouse procedure and other extraordinary circumstances like the current COVID-19 health pandemic.
If your background check has taken longer than seven working days, you must contact Checkr candidate portal and Uber support for more information. Typically, Checkr does the check and gives it to Uber. The rest is up to the latter.
What to Do If You’re Rejected?
Unfortunately, Uber does not have the reputation of promptly letting their applicants know about rejection. So, you might or might not hear from them when you haven’t made the cut. The official policy is to inform you within 7 to 10 working days. If you don’t hear from them, it’s a good idea to contact them yourself.
How to Contact Uber?
There are many ways of doing this and it is a process that is frequently changed. So, you must stay updated on these methods. You obviously have the option of pinging them on social media but that mostly only works for passengers with a complaint.
You can go to the page they have established for people to contact them without having to sign up. This is the easiest option. You will find this at the bottom of the Uber contact page.
The way to do it efficiently is to be efficient yourself. Keep the first query short and simple. Understand that each of these guys has hundreds of mail and requests to respond to every day. So, assume that they don’t really have the time to read long emails. Start the request with your name, email ID and your application status. Let them know that you have applied to be a driver and want to know what’s taking so long. You can mention dates and other details if they help them narrow down the case.
You might get an auto-response that will not be helpful right away. Be patient and write back politely asking them to answer your question specifically, if you have one. Remember that you can’t be rude to a prospective employer, even though the person reading that email is not your boss. Repeat your question till it is answered but don’t badger them with emails. That is just another way of being rude.
It might be two or three emails until someone takes notice and gives you the answer that you are looking for. Be ready for that.
What Background Checks Don’t Reveal
If you are a passenger or an applicant with a bit of a bumpy record, here’s some interesting information. While we expect companies like Uber and Lyft to not hire felons, we all know that they do and that is specific to certain situations. But it is also important to remember that not everything is revealed in background checks. Here’s what they don’t reveal.
Background checks, like the one done by Checkr for Uber, only tell you if someone has been convicted of a crime. This means that if some committed a crime and never got caught, there is no way to tell. Also, If someone got caught but never got convicted for whatever reason, the background checker does not get to know. These checks are not a way to predict someone’s bad behavior. So, there are no guarantees for the future, which is fair.
Now, this is a requirement by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and typically they don’t allow employers to look for records older than seven years. Well, you can do that in some states but not all. Which states get to do that digging is decided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They have guidelines depending on the type of business and specific cases. The ability to look deep into the past is something certain companies like doing to stay out of trouble. But Uber, like many other companies, has a seven-year limit on its searches.
Sometimes, counties and municipalities don’t report every court action to the state. And some states aren’t required to report everything to the federal government. So there is a slip in the system there too. That is why these checks are not done at just one source. People are often physically deployed to check county and municipality courthouse records for a complete and thorough background check. Some of them are still not computerized. However, if you don’t disclose the places that you have lived in in the last seven years, there is only so much Checkr can do. But if they find any bumps, lying makes it look worse.
And when Uber has failed, some state governments have stepped in. For example, in response to multiple complaints of sexual assault in California, the state government brought in a new law effective from January 1, 2017. It states that ridesharing companies don’t have to stick to the seven-year background check limit. A year later, another law came into effect which limited the ability of various companies to do thorough background checks on their applicants. But companies like Uber are exempted from those conditions. So, they can go ahead and take a peek as far back as they want.
If you are a passenger, you want to make sure your driver and vehicle are safe and you will reach your destination on time and have as pleasant an experience as possible. If you are a driver, you just want to get the job and get through every ride as smoothly as possible.
To make sure that everyone gets what they want, every ride-sharing company has a few rules. The ones mentioned above are specific to Uber. The company has been around for a long time and has almost perfected the whole process. Hopefully, it will keep going.