When people think of Uber, they tend to think of it as a way to get affordable, convenient transportation within the same city. The farthest most people will take Uber is from an outlying city or distant airport into the city center.
However, what if you want to go farther than that? Can you take an Uber between cities? Is there a limit to how far Uber will take you? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about long-distance Uber rides, including special cases like taking an Uber across state and international borders.
What’s the Maximum Distance You Can Take an Uber?
Does Uber set a limit on how far your ride can go? Technically, no. There is no limit to the distance you can take an Uber. However, there is a time limit. According to Uber’s site, “While Uber doesn’t limit the distance you can travel on a trip, trips may automatically end after 4 hours.”
That being said, you can always start a new ride if you still haven’t reached your destination after four hours. And because Uber pairs drivers with riders based largely on proximity, the odds are good that your same Uber driver will be able to receive and accept the request (if they choose to do so).
So what’s the longest Uber ride on record? There are many contenders, but the current record holder seems to be a ride taken by YouTuber MrBeast. He took an Uber from North Carolina to California, a distance totaling 2,256 miles. Granted, this was just to set a world record and create lots of buzz. In practice, it would make far more financial sense to fly or even rent a car; the cost of this Uber ride was $5,500. You can hear the full story below:
How Much Do Long-Distance Rides Cost?
Speaking of financials, what is a long-distance Uber ride going to cost you? Even if you’re not doing something crazy like taking an Uber across the country, longer Uber rides can still be expensive. Distance isn’t the only factor that Uber uses to calculate fares, but it is a significant one. Even trips of a couple hours between cities can run into the hundreds of dollars.
Of course, as with all Uber rides, you can get an estimate of the fare before you take the ride. Just note that the actual fare can vary, especially if you take a route that requires tolls. It’s also a good idea to plot the route in Google Maps beforehand, as this will give you an estimate of if the trip will take longer than four hours.
In general, taking Uber long distances is not an economical option. If you know that you need to make a long trip, then it’s best to look at the cost of renting a car, taking a bus, or even flying. These options will often be cheaper.
That being said, Uber can be a good option if you’re in a hurry and have no other transportation available. If getting there ASAP is the most important thing, you can generally count on getting an Uber when no other company will be available to give you transportation.
Can You Take an Uber Between Cities?
Yes, there’s nothing to prevent you from doing this. In particular, people who live in larger metro areas will often take Ubers between cities in the course of their daily business. Uber does not restrict drivers to operating in only one city.
The only case where things can get a bit trickier is in cities like NYC, which licenses Uber drivers through the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Therefore, a driver licensed to operate in the state of New York (but not in NYC itself) cannot accept rides within the five boroughs of NYC without having a TLC license on file with Uber.
Can You Take an Uber Across State Lines?
Yes, you can. Uber places no restrictions on crossing state lines for either drivers or passengers. However, do note that as a driver you won’t be able to pick up new passengers in a state that you’re not currently registered to drive in. Therefore, you should carefully consider if it’s worth it to take a driver to a place where you won’t have an option of getting any fares on the trip back to your home market.
Note that in certain cases, Uber does not have this restriction. For instance, drivers in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia metro area can generally get permission to operate in all three markets. Trips between them are so common that it would be inconvenient for riders and drivers if Uber didn’t allow it. The same is true for drivers operating in the area of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and western Maryland (excluding NYC, as discussed above).
To learn about the specific rules for your market with regard to crossing state lines, we recommend that you contact Uber directly.
Can You Take an Uber Into a Different Country?
In general, no, you can’t take an Uber into a different country. Uber does not allow drivers to cross international borders. This is because the specific licensing requirements for drivers vary from country to country. Uber also has no way to guarantee that both drivers and passengers have the necessary passports to cross the border.
For instance, let’s say you want to take an Uber from San Diego, Calif. to Tijuana, Mexico. Looking at the map, this seems pretty straightforward: just have an Uber driver transport you as they normally would. However, you’ll likely run into issues crossing the border. Even if the driver is willing to do it, it’s likely not a good idea.
Uber discovered this when they tested UberPASSPORT, the now discontinued service that allowed riders with valid passports to cross into Mexico without getting out of their Uber. The main issue was that while UberPASSPORT made it easy to get into Mexico, riders had no convenient way to get back. They still had to take an Uber to the border, cross on foot, and then request another ride once back in the U.S.
Therefore, if you want to take Uber between the U.S. and Canada or between the U.S. and Mexico, your best option is to get your driver to transport you as close to the border as possible, cross the border on foot, and get a new ride on the other side.
Long-Distance Uber Advice for Passengers and Drivers
To close, we want to offer some advice to both passengers and drivers that can make long-distance rides more convenient and pleasant. We’ll start with passengers.
Advice for Passengers
When you ask an Uber driver to make a long trip, you should understand the potential cost to the driver both in time and money. While the high fares for long trips can make it seem like a clear financial win for your driver, you need to understand that your driver is not keeping all of that money.
To start with, Uber takes a commission from that ride in order to cover their operating costs and make them a profit. Beyond that, the driver has to pay for their own insurance, gas, vehicle maintenance, and other associated costs with being an independent contractor.
Your driver also has no guarantee that they’ll be able to receive a fare of equal distance to get them back to the city where they picked you up. Sure, some drivers are nomadic and will just find more work in the city where they dropped you off. But most have a home to get back to in the city where your trip began. Therefore, the return trip will likely be entirely at the driver’s own expense.
Given all of this, it’s courteous to inform your driver that you’re asking them to take you on a long trip. To prevent bias, Uber doesn’t show the final destination to the driver until they’ve picked you up. Therefore, the driver won’t necessarily know that you’ve asked them to drive you to a different city or state.
Once you’ve requested the ride, call the driver and give them a heads up about the length of your trip. And don’t be offended if they decline; they’re under no obligation to transport you long distances if they don’t want to.
Finally, make sure to give the driver a good tip to compensate for the long trip. We know it’s tempting not to do this since you’re already paying a high fare, but it’s the right thing to do to show your appreciation for the long distance your driver has traveled.
Advice for Drivers
On the driver side, you should understand how Uber handles long trips. As part of Uber’s 180 Days of Change initiative, Uber will now notify you if a requested trip is going to take longer than 45 minutes. Specifically, the ride request screen will display text saying “Long Trip (45+ min).” You can see an illustration of this in the image below:
As with any ride, you’re under no obligation to accept long trips. However, do note that not accepting long ride requests will affect your acceptance rate, just as it would with any other ride request that you decline.
Beyond that, don’t be offended if passengers are less talkative (or even asleep) on longer rides, They may have just gotten off a long flight or be dealing with a stressful situation (such as missing a bus or handling a family emergency).
This doesn’t mean you should tolerate rude or abusive passengers, of course — this is never acceptable. But be considerate of the fact that most riders aren’t taking long Uber rides just for fun; they likely have a specific reason for doing so, a reason that may not always be pleasant or fun to discuss.
Also, you should understand the full financial implications of a long trip. It’s tempting to see the great distance and get excited by the high potential fare. But keep in mind that longer trips mean more gas, more wear and tear on your vehicle, and less time you could spend doing shorter trips.
It can also mean ending up in a city where you can’t accept rides (or at least can’t get one of equal distance back to your starting destination). If you want to give longer rides with a guarantee that you’ll at least be able to accept ride requests in a different state, then we recommend driving with Lyft as well. They place no restrictions on the states where their drivers can accept rides.
Overall, the long ride could still be worth your trouble if the fare is high enough. This is especially true if the rider decides to use a high-end service such as UberBLACK. Still, you should make sure to do the math behind the real cost of making the trip before you accept it. You don’t want to lose a bunch of money just because you let the promise of a high fare tempt you.
Finally, make sure that the long trip is one you can make safely. If you’ve already been driving all day and are tired, it could be unsafe to accept a trip that’s going to require you to drive for several more hours. It’s never worth it to endanger yourself, your passenger, or other drivers just to make more money. This is part of the reason that Uber places the four-hour limit on single trips; they don’t want a driver to drive all night just to meet a ride request.
We hope this article has helped both Uber passengers and driver partners understand the rules and costs of long-distance trips. It’s remarkable to live in a time when such trips are possible at all; they would have been unthinkable even a decade ago. As always, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable ride!
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.