Citizen Shipper

Citizen Shipper

Everything you need to know about making money with Citizen Shipper

Written by Emma Kansiz

Published 2022-07-05 / 4 min read

Want to earn extra money on your daily route? Driving a few hours on a weekend and keen to make some cash shipping other people’s belongings or pets? Want to make a positive impact and make other’s lives easier while adding to your own bottom line? Citizen Shipper is a quiet giant of the sharing economy and might be an avenue for you to explore.

What is Citizen Shipper?

Founded by Richard Obousy, a physics graduate student in 2008, Citizen Shipper is a peer to peer shipping/transportation marketplace that operates in all 50 states. The goal of the platform is to connect shipping customers with people who are already driving to the desired drop-off location. Drivers can bid on the different shipping opportunities and the shipper can choose from the bids to select a courier for their item. Their key features and services have developed over time, and now they lead the charge in pet transportation. As of 2022, there have been over 3 million bids placed on the platform, and there is no sign of the business slowing down.

CitizenShipper has 12 categories of items that they deliver, including pets, vehicles, motorcycles, furniture, artwork, and recreational equipment. Pets are their most popular category, making this a profitable alternative to pet sitting! But if that’s not your thing, there were over 175,000 total posts in 2021 so you will definitely find something that resonates with you.

How does Citizen Shipper's earning structure work?

First and foremost, Citizen Shipper is a subscription based service. It is totally affordable though, at $29.99 per month. They currently offer a three month free trial and a 30 day money back guarantee. So there is a low level of financial risk involved in signing up and testing the service out. Another exciting feature is that you can pause or cancel your subscription at any time without penalty, which is fab if you need to move or prioritize other forms of employment. 

One of the best elements of Citizen Shipper is that you can choose your own custom quote for any job you bid on. You can factor in fuel costs, distance, and maintenance costs into your quote so you won’t be left breaking even using the platform. You can earn pretty exciting lump sums of cash through the service. Pet transport is often in the $400-$700 range for a 1000 mile trip. And if you were taking that trip anyway for work or leisure, well, you can see how that is a pretty great opportunity to offset your costs. Many posts explicitly state how much the poster is willing to pay, which helps you weed out lower paying opportunities. While it is not mandatory, many pet owners will pay a small tip in cash in addition to the quoted price agreed upon. 

Citizen Shipper does not handle any payments. They are all organized between you and the poster of the job you have bid on. You must discuss beforehand whether you want to be paid in advance, in installments, or on delivery. You can negotiate with them and decide whether you want to accept cash or conduct the payment via PayPal or direct deposit. Citizen Shipper recommends an electronic transfer or something that can be traced in case of a dispute or discrepancy. 

Although Citizen Shipper claims on their website that many drivers earn between $8000-10,000 per month, we feel that that is in the higher income bracket, and only takes into account full-time drivers. Keep in mind that all profits will have to reflect rising fuel costs, car maintenance, and any lodging required during your drive. So be realistic with yourself when browsing through posts. For instance, if you are driving solely to transport something for a client, you need to be aware of the associated expenses. A $500 post might look enticing but perhaps less so if the route will require $200 worth of fuel and a $75 night at a motel. Be organized and keep a written record of your income and expenditures so you can budget effectively.

What is the time commitment for Citizen Shipper?

One of the key benefits of Citizen Shipper is that you can make your own schedule, and only bid on roles that suit you and your life. One of the benefits is that you can earn money doing what you would have done for free - driving! It can also be incorporated into your leisure lifestyle: want to take an interstate road trip? Why not pick up someone’s pet or furniture and earn a couple of hundred dollars (or more) en route? 

How to get started with Citizen Shipper?

The sign up process is pretty straightforward. Click on the Become a Driver link on their website’s homepage. Enter your contact information, driver’s license and registration details. Choose which kinds of categories and shipment types you are interested in shipping.

Before being accepted onto the platform, Citizen Shipper runs a criminal background check on you and confirms that you have a clean driving record with no DUI’s. Your address and contact information are also verified before acceptance to ensure the safety of everyone using the platform.  

On your profile you can include a photo and write a compelling description that discusses your qualifications, experience, and special assets. You don’t need to have any specific experience transporting items but think of any unique qualities or personality quirks that will make you seem more approachable to potential clients. If you do have certifications, list them here to be as competitive as possible. 

Once you have been accepted into the portal, you will get notified when there are posts available for you to bid on in your region. Through the portal you can directly message the lister with your proposal, inquiries, and to discuss the price and logistics. You are then free to bid on the job with your own custom price and any special notes, such as delivery date.

Once accepted you and the customer will use the messaging service on the platform to coordinate the details of your trip. At this point, you are welcome to reach out to them off the platform via Skype or voice call and arrange everything on your own terms.

Citizen Shipper requirements

Required Resources

You must have a car in most cases, ideally one that is in good condition. It must have room to ship items and transport goods, and/or pets. Many of the postings need long-distance drivers so having a reliable car with lower mileage will serve you as a contractor on the site. Some posts will want you to deliver their car or motorcycle to a new location, in which case you must have all the associated proof of registration and insurance. 

You must have a smartphone. We recommend a plan with lots of data as you will be using your phone constantly on the road to communicate with your clients.

Required Skills

You must be over 21 with a clean driving record and no criminal background to apply. 

Keep in mind that Citizen Shipper uses ratings and reviews to promote high quality service so it is imperative that you are communicative, honest, and accommodating with all of your customers. Cultivating a helpful, solutions-oriented mindset will serve you well and will boost your likelihood of winning new bids. Reviews are vital to your success so being authentic and not over-promising are absolutely non-negotiable. People are trusting you with their pets and/or valuables and the human factor comes first -you absolutely need to be amicable and reliable whenever you are ‘on the clock’ transporting goods for your customers. 

Required Documents

You must provide proof of vehicle registration and car insurance. You will also have to consent to a background check, but Citizen Shipper pays for it which is a great incentive for you to complete the signup process. The background check will also include a credit check so keep that in mind before applying. 

If you want to transport pets you should obtain a USDA certification. The Class T certificate covers pet transporters and is free of charge. You may also want to consider getting additional insurance coverage for pet transport through your car insurance. A pet care certification through Pet Sitters International or NAAPS is a solid idea if you plan to make pet transport a long term career option. Ticking these boxes will help you win more jobs and establish trust with potential clients.

Other important details

Citizen Shipper prides itself on being a helpful and transparent service. They offer pretty comprehensive driver onboarding training and offer online resources for drivers to improve their profile and boost their income earning potential. They have business development tutorials and workshops available once you are a paying subscriber.  

Citizen Shipper also offers $1000 in pet protection insurance and provides access to a 24/7 online veterinary service for its drivers. They do recommend researching whether your car insurance policy covers pets or has any add-ons that cover pet transport.  

For American drivers who want to drive full time, there are added regulatory hurdles to overcome. If you have a vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 pounds you will need to get a Department of Transport Safety Registration. This requirement does not apply to small cars or pick-up trucks. 

As with most platforms of this kind, you are classified as self-employed. Citizen Shipper does not handle any financial logistics. You are on your own when it comes to filing your taxes and tracking your income and expenditures. We recommend hiring an accountant who has experience working with self-employed workers. You might be getting paid in cash and you’ll want a bookkeeping system whereby you can track your gross and net income. We recommend taking a portion of your earnings and putting them towards maintenance related costs or lodging and food while on the road.

Our review

Citizen Shipper is an innovative platform with solid customer service and support for both its clients and its drivers. Because it is subscription based it endeavors to hold on to its paying clients by treating them well and resolving problems effectively. This earns it a high trustworthiness score in our eyes.

Citizen Shipper is a great concept because it works to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint and it also enables the transport of items that would have been extortionate to ship with traditional moving services. It allows drivers to make pretty significant earnings off of drives that they were doing anyways. Additionally, as a self-employed or part time driver you can bid on posts that are being delivered to a destination you want to visit. Dog being delivered to Santa Fe? Why not bid on the role and take a nice weekend sightseeing trip?

We like that drivers can create their own quote, taking into account mileage and the nature of the delivery. One caveat is that it can be a race to the bottom and the lowest priced quote often wins the gig. That being said, many pet owners focus more on your profile, experience, and personal attributes than your quoted price. So if you can market yourself and communicate well you can definitely command a higher price than your competitors. But do be aware that bidding a reasonable price will get you more traction on the site until you’ve accumulated some reviews and ratings.   

If you want to make this more of a full-time gig, be aware that long distance truck driving can be lonely and take a toll on your health if you don’t manage your sleep, diet, and leisure schedule on the road. But if you love adventure, sightseeing, and the open road then this might feel less like work and more like fun. The pandemic has created a serious shortage of workers in the field and if you are looking to branch out and try a new career this might be the challenge for you. 

For those who want to make this an occasional side hustle that can fit seamlessly into their personal life, this is a very compelling opportunity. You can choose between short or long distance trips and you can factor deliveries into your plans and adventures. We like that Citizen Shipper allows you to work whenever it is convenient for you and that you can bid on jobs weeks and months ahead of time, allowing you to schedule them into your life. This is a legitimate and highly recommended side gig for those with full time or part time jobs or for those who want to make this their primary income source. We love that Citizen Shipper doesn’t take a cut out of your earnings, and we believe the subscription price is reasonable and justified by the service provided on the platform.