Instacart Waitlist (What Is It + How to Get off It)

In the 2020’s everybody knows somebody who is a member of the gig economy, whether it’s delivery, ride sharing, or even providing virtual assistant services.

Instacart is one of the most popular companies to work for, with millions of users across the country. But if you applied and didn’t get accepted right away, you might have been put on a waitlist. So, what is the Instacart waitlist? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!

What Is the Instacart Waitlist In [currentyear]?

In areas of shopper oversaturation or low order volume, Instacart may implement a waitlist for new applicants in [currentyear]. The waitlist is designed to be a temporary part of the application process. As need and opportunity arises, applicants may be taken off the waitlist and into the official pool of prospective shopper/drivers.

How does the Instacart waitlist work? How do you move up the waitlist – or even circumvent the waitlist entirely? If you’d like to find out, keep reading below!

How Does the Instacart Waitlist Work?

When you apply to work for Instacart, the company collects information about you, such as your zip code.

This information is used to identify your shopping area, so that Instacart can see how well-populated it is in terms of both shoppers and orders.

If there are more shoppers than orders, that’s not great for Instacart’s bottom line.

However, because turnover in the gig economy can be fast and frenzied, it makes sense to hold onto interested parties, rather than just reject the application outright for lack of positions.

Enter the Instacart waitlist, where qualified applicants hang out while waiting for a shopper spot to open up.

However, in order to get on the waitlist, you must already have verified that you are qualified for an Instacart position and passed the background check.

How Do You Move up the Instacart Waitlist?

Moving up the Instacart waitlist can take hours to months, depending on your location and market.

You’re moved up when the orders increase to the point where another shopper is needed or when current shoppers depart and leave a position open.

According to a notification sent by Instacart to a prospective shopper, the waitlist is populated on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As well, when it’s your time to be plucked off the waitlist, it’s best to respond fast so that your opportunity doesn’t pass and they move onto the next applicant.

How Long Is the Instacart Waitlist?

How Long Is the Instacart Waitlist?

The Instacart waitlist has been shown to last hours in some cases, but in extreme cases on the other end, people have languished on it for months.

(You can find a compilation of waitlist timeline comments in this article).

It appears that even in larger cities like LA where there are presumably hundreds of thousands of possible orders, the number of shoppers can still exceed the need.

How Do You Get off the Instacart Waitlist?

There are a few hacks for getting off the Instacart waitlist faster.

While your initial response to the zip code question might be your true ZIP, it doesn’t have to be.

For example, if you live an hour outside a major city, but access to the city is easy, you can change your ZIP and see if there is more opportunity.

This way, you can plan to head into the city and spend your day there, delivering orders.

In fact, if you live close to a state line, you can shop through Instacart from places in that state.

Because one city can contain multiple ZIPs, play around with changing them to see what pops.

A less crafty and more straight-forward method for getting off the waitlist is to contact Instacart directly to ask about your waitlist status.

While not foolproof, it definitely shows the company that you’re ready to start working and really want the job.

What Can You Do While You’re on the Instacart Waitlist?

If your entire surrounding area is saturated with Instacart shoppers, and you don’t see yourself moving off the waitlist any time soon, don’t despair.

The gig economy is alive and thriving, and there are plenty of other opportunities out there.

For example, consider trying one of the food delivery services, like DoorDash, GrubHub, or UberEats.

(If you live in a larger city like NYC, you also have Postmates, and ChowNow.)

For that matter, you could also get into ride sharing with Uber or Lyft.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether or not Instacart takes EBT, if Instacart is legit, and Instacart refund.


The Instacart waitlist is a virtual “waiting room” for eligible applicants to the grocery delivery service. Due to shopper saturation in some areas, the Instacart waitlist can last as little as a few hours or as much as a few months – or even more.

Applicants in a hurry to make some money can try using a different zip code as their location, reaching out to Instacart directly about their status or even waiting it out while working a different gig.

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Cara Suppa

Cara Suppa has been freelance writing for over a decade and holds a BA in English and an MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. Outside of work, she is an avid cook, gardener, and discount shopper.

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