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12th July, 2020

business, sole traders

Moving to and working in the UK? An Uber driver FAQ

Are you thinking about a freelance job that’s flexible to do when you move to a new country or that gives you extra income and fits around your existing commitments? We recognise that many people, particularly those moving to the UK from abroad, consider becoming a driver for services like Uber and Bolt as a way to start earning in the UK.  So here we tell you about what’s involved and what to expect.

We have focused on Uber as it is the most widely used service. In this article, we will provide information regarding the ride-hailing company and we aim to help you find out if becoming an Uber driver is worthwhile for you, and how to make the most of your hard-earned money if you choose to support family abroad.

What is an Uber driver?

Uber Technologies Inc, trading as Uber, is an enormously successful mobility service provider (MSP), also known as a transportation network company. Uber was founded in 2009 in California, USA. Today, Uber operates in 900 cities around the world, providing transport for approximately 110 million worldwide users in 2019*.

A note on terminology: an Uber driver is referred to as a partner, and an Uber passenger is a rider.

The service is structured around the Uber app. Riders sign up to the Uber system and, when they need a ride, switch on the app and input their current location and destination. All Uber partners in the area who are active – meaning that their apps are switched on – will see the request, and the first to accept the job will take it on. The rider will be given certain information about the driver: name; make, model and registration of the car; and estimated time of collection.

Working as a partner for Uber is a great way to generate extra income alongside other work. When you’re available for pick-ups, you just switch on the Uber app. When you’re not available, you switch off the app and you won’t receive any requests for rides.

However, being an Uber partner doesn’t have to be part time – many Uber partners make a living from driving full time. Be aware, though, that UK legislation imposes limits on drivers’ hours.

In the UK, Uber operates in the following cities and regions: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Sussex, Bristol, Cambridge and East Anglia, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Home counties, Leicester, London, Manchester, Merseyside, North East, Nottingham, Sheffield, South Coast, South West, West Yorkshire, and Stoke.

Who can be an Uber Driver?

If you’re thinking about working in the UK as an Uber driving partner, there are certain criteria you will have to meet. To apply, you’ll need:

● A valid UK driver’s licence. (EU driver’s licence needs to be converted to UK driver’s licence before onboarding)

● To be at least 21 years of age

● Private Hire Insurance allowing you to transport passengers for hire and reward

● Bank Statement for the bank account that will be used to receive payments from Uber, needs to be under your name or a business which you are an owner of

● Driver profile photo

How do I become an Uber driver?

The first step to becoming an Uber driver is to sign up. You begin this process by filling in an online form. You will then be invited to attend, in person, an induction session – or Uber Ignition meeting.

As soon as possible, download the free Uber app to your smartphone or tablet. You must also apply for a private hire licence or, if you will be driving in London, a PCO licence.

How do I get a private hire licence?

Private hire licences are granted by local councils. You’ll need to apply to the local council in the area where you’ll be operating as an Uber driving partner. Some councils will require you to have a medical examination.

If you don’t have your own vehicle – or one that’s suitable for Uber driving – this doesn’t mean that you can’t drive for Uber. Uber’s sister company, Partner Point, operates the Uber Vehicle Solutions Programme which offers leases and rentals on cars, as well a range of finance options. Talk to an advisor when you attend the Uber Ignition meeting or have a look at the Partner Point marketplace.

How do I get a PCO licence?

Obtaining a licence to work as a driver in London is a bit more difficult. A private hire licence, which is valid for three years, is granted by the Public Carriage Office (PCO), a part of Transport for London (TfL). An application for a PCO licence includes a medical examination and an English language test – you can find out more information on the process and requirements on the tfl.gov.uk website.

A significant element of the PCO application is the topographical skills assessment, which tests your map-reading and route-planning abilities. The test is conducted under examination conditions at one of eight approved topographical assessment centres in London.

You must also have an enhanced DBS background check.

What is a DBS check?

One of the requirements in the application process for a private hire licence is that you have a DBS check.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is a non-departmental government body that exists for the purpose of safeguarding. Many types of work require a DBS check, and private hire is one of them. Uber explains how to apply for an enhanced DBS background check that’s specifically tailored to private hire drivers.

Is my car suitable for Uber driving in the UK?

These are the basic Uber vehicle requirements in the UK:

● Model year no earlier than 2006 or, in London, 2008

● Good condition with no commercial branding or cosmetic damage

● Four-door and licensed to carry a minimum of four passengers in addition to the driver

● Approved for private hire by the relevant council

● Covered by private hire insurance.

Uber offers a multi-layered service to riders. The standard and most popular class of travel is UberX. If you are providing a higher level of service – luxury vehicle, more than four riders, disabled access, etc. – your vehicle will be required to meet appropriate requirements.

What is an Uber Ignition meeting?

Uber Ignition is an induction session that you will attend in person. At this meeting, you will become familiar with the Uber app and be given Uber training. By the time you attend your Uber Ignition meeting, you will already have submitted some of the required information to Uber. If there is anything outstanding, you can take it with you to the induction meeting.

Here’s a checklist:

● National Insurance number

● Details of the bank account that your money will be paid into – the account must be in your name or the name of a business that you own

● Driver profile photograph – the image must be well lit, in focus, centred and forward facing

● Driving licence

● MOT – it must have been issued in the last six months

● Private hire licence or PCO licence

● Private hire insurance certificate

● Log book or new keeper slip

DVLA Electronic Counterpart Check Code

How much does an Uber driver get paid?

As an Uber partner, you’re paid weekly, directly into your bank account.

Riders pay for the service by electronic transfer to Uber. Uber’s fee is 25% of that payment, and you receive 75% of the rider’s fare.

The price of Uber travel varies according to the level of service (UberX/UberXL/UberPool, etc.), geographical area, time of day and density of business. As a ball-park figure, though, you can expect to earn between £500 and £600 per week for full-time driving – working out at around £15 per hour.

And for drivers who want to send money abroad (like to their home countries), PagoFX allows them to do so securely through their UK debit cards while avoiding expensive fees. PagoFX by Santander is the low-cost way to send money abroad with confidence. It’s an easy-to-use app with transparent low-costs, bank-level security and great customer support – all backed by the inherent trust that comes from a global bank like Santander.

Income Tax

As an Uber partner, you are self-employed. Your earnings from Uber are gross income and it is your responsibility to ensure that any Income Tax that you owe is paid to HMRC. If you have not been self-employed before, register as a sole trader with HMRC as soon as possible.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

If your total annual turnover – the income from all sources and not just Uber – reaches the VAT registration threshold, you are required by law to collect VAT. The current threshold, as of August 2018, stands at £85,000. It is advisable to consult a tax advisor regarding VAT registration. Uber also provides VAT information and advice.

Uber Partner Protection

Uber is in partnership with multinational insurance firm, AXA. When you become an Uber driving partner, you are automatically protected by AXA for events that occur while you are carrying out Uber work – referred to as On-Trip. The cover, which will cost you nothing, includes compensation for hospitalisation, injury, permanent disability and death.

If you are an Active Partner – i.e. if you’ve completed a minimum of 150 trips during the eight weeks immediately before the claim – you will be eligible for Off-Trip cover, which provides insurance protection for some life events that occur when you’re not working, but which are detrimental to your ability to work.

Uber app

An Uber partner relies on two main tools of the trade: a vehicle and a smartphone or tablet. The Uber app is the thread that holds the system together. This free app is what makes the Uber world go around!

The Uber app gives you notification of potential pick-ups and is the means by which you accept, and commit to, a pick-up.

After dropping off a rider, Uber partners are required to give that rider a rating on a five-point scale, and vice versa.

Functions of the app also include: navigation, route planning, notifications, emergency assistance and complaints. In the Help section, you’ll find useful tools such as the AXA online claim form.

Is driving for Uber worthwhile?

Some people don’t like the idea of earning only three quarters of riders’ fares. For those who don’t need Uber’s technical infrastructure and constant assistance in connecting with customers, it would probably be best to find an alternative, such as becoming a taxi driver.

One of the best bits about being an Uber driving partner is that you really are working on flexitime – in the true sense of the word. Part-time Uber driving can fit in effortlessly around other work commitments. When you’re ready to drive, just switch on the app. When you’re away, no-one will grumble when you’re not working and riders will be available to you when you are.

Having begun driving part time with Uber, you may feel that your enjoyment of the job warrants a shift in working priorities. For a sociable, independent person, private hire driving is a superb choice of career, especially if you enjoy driving.

What about the financial side of working for Uber?

Full-time commitment to Uber driving in the UK can bring in a very decent living. On the basis that you earn, on average, £500 per week (35-40 hours’ work per week), in 50 weeks of the year, your gross annual income will be £25,000.

Lots of Uber drivers get started because it’s a convenient way to transition to working life in the UK, as well as offering all of the flexible benefits outlined above. Though if you plan to send money home while working with Uber, you’ll want to keep as much of it as you can – by not spending large percentages of it on foreign transaction fees or losing some to bad exchange rates.

PagoFX by Santander give you a secure way to make payments abroad, with low costs and real-time exchange rates (the same ones you’ll see on Google, Reuters or Bloomberg). Backed by Santander, one of Europe’s largest banks, you can feel confident that your money is being taken care of securely. It only takes a few minutes to sign up for an account and you can send payments directly from your smartphone or from your web browser. Sign up at PagoFX.com today or download the app via the App Store or Google Play.

(Figures correct as of 1 June 2020)
All factual information about Uber and the Uber application process and requirements is sourced from Uber.com unless otherwise stated. You must refer to Uber.com for the most up to date information on becoming an Uber driver.
*Source: Wikipedia.com

Disclaimer:
This article is provided as general information purposes only, and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topic. We recommend that you take professional and specialised advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the content of this publication, as this article is not intended to constitute expert advice. We do not guarantee, explicitly or implicitly, that the content of this article is accurate, complete or up-to-date. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from PagoFX or its affiliates.