Both ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft are expected to launch in Vancouver by the end of the year. However, the requirements and processes are a bit more complicated than in other cities where ride-hailing exists. Here’s a guide on how to become an Uber Vancouver or Lyft Vancouver driver.
What’s on this page
- Ride-hailing Start Date
- What Do You Need to Drive for Uber or Lyft in Vancouver?
- How to Get a Class 4 Driver’s License
- What are the Vehicle Requirements?
- How to get a Commercial Vehicle Inspection
- Background Check
- Vancouver Congestion Surcharge
- Startup Costs to Become a Ride-Sharing Driver
- WARNING about New Driver Signup Promotions
- Do I Pay Taxes on my Earnings as a Driver?
- Is It Worth It to Become an Uber Vancouver or Lyft Vancouver Driver?
- Helpful Links
Ride-hailing Start Date
What do you need to start driving for Uber in Vancouver?
Here are the basics to becoming a ride-hailing driver: be 21+ years old, Class 4 or better driver’s licence, have an Uber account, have a cellphone with data service, and have a vehicle that meets the requirements.
What license do I need?
BC has different types of licences with the most common being Class 5. You can drive for Uber or Lyft with Class 1, 2, or 4 (restricted or unrestricted) licenses. Class 5 is not accepted.
Class 1, 2 and 4 are all commercial licences but with different restrictions. Class 1 enables you to drive semi-trailer trucks and more; Class 2 allows you to drive buses and more.
People who hold Class 4 are typically taxi drivers, community shuttle drivers, and ambulance drivers. BC requires all ride-hailing drivers to have a minimum of Class 4.
What most people would need to drive for Uber is a Class 4 (restricted). See more below.
Class 4 driver’s licence
There are two different Class 4 driver licenses: restricted and unrestricted.
The unrestricted is limited to vehicles with 10 passenger capacity (driver included) like taxis and limousines, whereas the unrestricted C4DL can drive vehicles like buses with 25 passenger capacity.
The Class 4 (restricted) is what most people would need to drive for Uber or Lyft.
The main reasons provided by the government for the Class 4 requirement was that they want to ensure greater safety for passengers as some additional driver’s training is needed.
Furthermore, the government wants to equalize the playing field between the taxi industry and ride-hailing. Because of that all ride-hailing drivers will be treated the same way as taxi drivers under the law.
How to get a Class 4 Driver’s License
To get your Class 4 licence, you’ll need to get a learner’s licence (by passing a knowledge test) before taking your road test for a full-privilege licence. ICBC listed all the requirements here.
Commercial Learner’s License
To get your learner’s licence you’ll need to pass a knowledge test and meet medical standards. The test has 35 questions and you’ll need to score a minimum of 28 correct responses to pass.
To prepare for the test, you will need to review the Driving Commercial Vehicles guide. This manual covers all commercial licenses in BC which means not all sections are applicable for Class 4.
No appointment is needed to take knowledge tests. The cost for taking these tests is $15.
You are not allowed to attempt the knowledge test multiple times on the same day. If you don’t pass, the waiting period to retake a Class 4 knowledge test is 7 days.
The test is not available at every Driver’s Licensing office, so please call ahead to confirm.
After passing the knowledge test, you will receive a learner’s license. At this point, you are allowed to operate as a vehicle in the Class 4 capacity only if you have a full Class 4 Driver’s license holder as a supervisor next to you. You are still not ready to drive for any ride-hailing companies yet.
Full-privilege commercial license
To obtain the full Class 4 driver’s license, you must have a Class 4 pre-trip vehicle inspection and pass the road test. The road test is like every other road test where you are asked to demonstrate all or subset of the knowledge required.
You should bring the vehicle that is most familiar to you to ensure the best chance of passing. The fee for the road test is $40. Call to book your commercial road test.
If you don’t pass, the waiting period to retake the pre-trip inspection and road test is 14 days.
What is new to many of us are the additional safety checks we must perform as a commercial driver. Therefore, you should take every opportunity to practice these new skills, build a routine to a point where you no longer have to think about them. This will ensure your success during the road test.
Driver’s Medical Examination
To improve safety for passengers, ICBC also requires a medical examination for the initial application of a commercial license, as well as on every renewal at 5 years.
The medical exam can be completed at your own doctor or a walk-in clinic. The cost of the medical exam is variable so call around if you want to save some money.
For example, my doctor charges $200 for the exam. You also need to pay ICBC $28 to process the medical exam results.
ICBC will issue you the full license when all of the above are satisfied. The fee for a license that lasts 5 years is $75.
For many of us who is looking to drive for ride-hailing, we are simply driving the vehicle we drive on a daily bases. So there is nothing new in terms of road rules, familiarity with the vehicle, and actual driving.
Professional Driving School
There are driving schools to help train you for Class 4. The training is optional.
As an example, Fraser Valley Driving School is offering training packages for Class 4 (restricted) between $235 – $329.
What are the Vehicle requirements?
Your vehicle must meet the requirements to drive with Uber in Vancouver:
- 4-door vehicle with at least 5 seats
- Vehicle year must be 9 years or newer
- Good condition with no cosmetic damage
- No commercial branding
- Not salvaged or rebuilt vehicles
- Pass a vehicle inspection
- Be registered in BC
- Have insurance that lists your name
Uber X: The most popular options for riders.
Uber XL: Seat more passengers, earn higher fares. Most SUVs qualify to drive with Uber XL.
How to get a commercial vehicle inspection?
Your vehicle must pass a commercial vehicle inspection at a certified vehicle inspection facility and receive a Commercial Vehicle Inspection Report.
Uber partners get a discounted rate of $80 + tax for vehicle inspections at Canadian Tire, their preferred inspection provider.
ICBC has recently defined the fee structure for insuring ride-hailing vehicles. Instead of charging each driver, ICBC will collect from ride-hailing companies on a per-km basis.
ICBC will sell a blanket insurance certificate to the ride-hailing company like Uber and Lyft, not individual drivers, which provides the Basic insurance during ride-hailing use.
This blanket Basic coverage is mandatory for ride-hailing companies and provides coverage for Accident Benefits and up to $1,000,000 third party liability.
You and your passengers will be covered by the ride-hailing company’s Basic insurance when you have accepted a trip via the app, when you are en route to pickup or transporting.
You will need to declare to ICBC on your next insurance renewal that you are participating in ride-hailing.
See here for more information from ICBC.
When you apply for Uber, they will do a background check for you likely with a third-party.
For Lyft, you need to get visit the Vancouver Police Department, your local RCMP detachment, or police agency. Bring two forms of govt. ID, one with a photo. Be sure your request includes a vulnerable sector check. The fee is $75.
Vancouver Congestion Surcharge
In anticipation of increased traffic from ride-hailing, the City of Vancouver has approved a congestion surcharge called “Congestion and Curbside Management Permit, CCMP.”
The CCMP applies only to ride-hailing companies, not taxis. The charge is $0.30 per pick and drop off in the designated area, zero-emission vehicles get a discounted rate of $0.15 per pick and drop off .
The area affected mainly covers Downtown, Broadway corridor between Clark Dr. and Burrard street. See the map below for details.
On top of the per use fees, City of Vancouver is also charging $100 annual licensing fee for each vehicle. No other cities in the GVRD as yet announed any annual licensing fee as of October 2019.
Startup Costs to Become a Ride-Sharing Driver
Below is a table that looks at the example costs of becoming a ride-sharing driver. The variable costs include the Driver’s Medical Examination as that depends on how much you charge, whether you need to submit a criminal records check (Uber does it for you, Lyft needs you to do it yourself), and whether you need Class 4 professional driving school.
|Class 4 Driver's Licence Knowledge Test||$15|
|Class 4 Driver's License Road Test||$40|
|Class 4 Full License||$75|
|Driver's Medical Examination (depends on your doctor)||$200|
|Driver's Medical Examination Processing Fee||$28|
|Commercial Vehicle Inspection||$80|
|Vancouver Congestion Surcharge||$100|
|Background Records Check (Lyft only)||$75|
|Class 4 Driving School (depends on which driving school)||$200 - $350|
|TOTAL||$538 - $963|
At the low end of costs, say you drive for Uber and don’t need driving school, then it would be around $500. At the higher end of costs, if you drive for Lyft and needed that background check plus driving school, then it would be over $900.
Depreciation: As you increase the mileage on your car, you are also depreciating its value (ie, lower resale value).
Car scheduled maintenance: Car maintenance schedule is usually based on either time or mileage. People who drive very little usually will reach the time before the mileage cap. For these participants, driving for Uber actually help you make the most out of your maintenance cost. However, if you normally rack up tons of mileage, then you can expect more frequent visits to the shop and added maintenance costs. Extra tire wear should be added for to your costs as well.
Car care: Uber requires you to keep up a clean appearance of your car, whether you care about it or not. That means extra car washes and detailing.
Infractions on the road: Whether a ride-hailing driver or not, the driver is responsible for traffic infractions.
WARNING about New Driver Signup Earnings Guarantee Promotions
Uber and Lyft currently have promotional offers for new drivers but you need to read all the terms and conditions to understand!
Promotions vary as there are some are publicized via social media or on the company’s website. You might also receive direct offers via e-mail if you are already signed up with the company.
Guaranteed Earnings versus Bonus
The kind of incentives being offered by ride-hailing companies include guaranteed earnings and bonuses.
For Uber Vancouver, I saw a promotion on the website which guarantees new drivers $800 as long as you have 100 unique rider trips within 180 days.
What does guarantee exactly mean? Well, say you made $700 only on those 100 trips within 180 days, then Uber will give you $100 bonus top you up to $800.
If you made $850, for example, on those 100 trips in 180 days, you get no bonus because you earned more than the $800 guaranteed.
Other private offers are available directly via emails from Uber. The offer I received, for example, promises $500 bonus on top of my earnings for the first 30 trips before Jan 31, 2020. This offer is basically designed to cover initial costs involved in qualifying as an Uber driver.
For Lyft, it says you get “a $500 bonus” if you apply with code by Jan. 9, 2020, complete your first ride within 180 days of your application date, and complete 70 rides within 30 days of your first ride. The terms and conditions are a bit unclear but I can see it being similar to Uber’s bonus offer mentioned above.
Do I pay taxes on my earnings as a driver?
Uber drivers are considered contractors rather than employees (in most cases) which means you need to declare your earnings and pay taxes.
Is it worth it to become an Uber Vancouver or Lyft Vancouver Driver?
If you already have a commercial driver’s license Class 1, 2, or 4)…
Then the cost and effort needed to get a Class 4 is longer in the equation. Your startup investment is a lot less compared to those who don’t have a Class 4. Whether you drive a lot or little, you can recover your money/time investment more easily.
If you have a Class 5 or 7 driver’s licence and want to dabble as a driver for a side-gig…
It would be harder to recoup your initial investment when you only drive occasionally. Fewer trips may also mean you may not qualify for any of the promotional offers.
If you have a Class 5 or 7 driver’s licence and want to drive full-time or close to it…
By taking on more trips, you could recover some of your initial investment through promotional offers (again your mileage will vary) more quickly than those take on driving more as a side-gig.
You will also likely learn the system and figure out the best times time where you can make money more efficiently and thus recover your investment quicker.