Want to become a self-employed courier? Get started with our 8-point guide


One of the best things about starting a courier service is the freedom of being your own boss and setting your own hours.

Read on for our simple eight-point guide on how to set up your own courier business, from vehicle costs and qualifications to accounts and registering with HMRC.

1. Get a vehicle

First things first, the most important piece of equipment a courier needs is a reliable van – or bike – depending on what type of courier you’d like to be.

This means making sure your vehicle is fully serviced and has a valid MOT. If not, you could risk letting down customers and doing yourself out of repeat business.

You may consider using your car to begin with, but it’s worth thinking about getting a van because you’ll be able to carry more packages, which is likely to mean earning more money.

Make sure to think carefully about how much to spend on a vehicle upfront, and how much your ongoing costs are likely to be.

2. Work out your costs

It’s all well and good ploughing ahead with starting a courier business, but if you don’t take all your costs into consideration, there’s a chance you’ll undersell your services, putting your business at risk.

Expenses to consider include:

  • buying a van
  • van maintenance
  • fuel
  • advertising your courier business
  • mobile phone

3. Check potential income

According to the National Careers Service, couriers earn between £14,500 and £40,000 a year.

Glassdoor.co.uk lists a range of different courier jobs with different organisations, and hourly rates of pay appear to range from £5 per hour to £11 pound per hour.

4. Think about whether you want to get any courier qualifications

Aside from a clean driving licence, you don’t need any formal qualifications to become a self-employed courier. However, dedication to staying safe on the road is essential – including pulling over if you need to make a phone call or send a message.

You may also consider joining a professional body like the NCDA (National Courier and Despatch Association). This can be a way to boost your reputation as a reliable service provider.

Some people get into the courier business by doing an apprenticeship to learn the trade before becoming a self-employed courier. You may also want to think about signing up to a City & Guilds in Driving Goods Vehicles course.

5. Learn to think on your feet

You’ll need to be able to think on your feet in case you get into difficult traffic situations or encounter road closures. While having a good sat nav will help you navigate your way to most destinations, it’s a good idea to train yourself not to rely on it completely.

The greater sense of direction and ability you have to react to challenging road conditions, the more likely you’ll be to arrive consistently on time and keep your customers happy.

6. Register your courier business with HMRC and pay your tax

If you’re setting up a business, registering with HMRC is one of the first things you should do. This is so you can pay the right amount of tax on what you earn and avoid being penalised for not paying what you owe.

You can read our article to help you decide whether you want to set yourself up as a sole trader or a limited company. The rate of tax you pay will be different depending on which status you choose.

7. Keep on top of your accounts

With this in mind, it’s really important to stay on top of your finances and your general business administration. Being organised will help you meet your customers’ expectations by being on time and accurate with your deliveries.

Good organisation will also help you keep your financial records up to date, so when it’s time to submit your tax return, everything is in one place. You may want to get an accountant or use accounting software to help you.

8. Consider your courier insurance needs

As with any other type of business, thinking about business insurance is a must. Public liability insurance can cover you for damage or injury claims made against your business. If anyone else works for you in your business, remember that employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement.

You may also want to consider legal expenses insurance because even if a claim against you is unfounded, you may still face steep legal costs.

Vehicle insurance will also be an essential cover for your self-employed courier business.

Starting your own self-employed courier business? Let us know how you get on in the comments below.

Looking for courier insurance?

With Simply Business you can build a single courier insurance policy combining the covers that are right for your business. From public liability to employers’ liability to legal expenses – whatever covers you need, it’s simple to run a quick quote online.

Lauren Hellicar

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