How to become a Courier - Ultimate Guide

February 16, 2022

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the Covid pandemic caused internet shopping demand to surge by more than 50% in 2020.

This has of course led to an increased demand for parcel delivery services and, coupled with Brexit, it’s now ‘an employees’ market’ when it comes to choosing courier work.

Some of you reading this guide may, understandably, be quite keen to become a self-employed driving courier where you can have more flexibility over your hours, potentially better pay and a choice of jobs you take on.

So here’s what you need to know about how to become a courier in 2022 including how to start your own business as a self-employed delivery driver.

What is a Courier?

What isn’t classed as a Courier?

How much do Couriers earn per parcel?

How to start a Courier business UK

What other insurance do I need to be a courier?

Delivery driver requirements UK

Who’s the Best Courier Company to work for UK?

What is a Courier?

A courier is a person who collects packages from a large distribution depot in a large town or city, and then delivers their allocated parcels, newspapers or letters to a multitude of addresses within a certain timeframe, and typically within a certain postcode locality or region.

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Range of parcels and packages in back of courier delivery van

What isn’t classed as a Courier?

  • Nationwide delivery services of extra-large and/or heavy parcels. Nationwide delivery jobs typically fall under the umbrella of ‘haulage’ although there are nationwide or multi-regional driver courier jobs for smaller, lighter loads.
  • Hot food takeaway delivery driver jobs for firms like Just Eat, Uber Eats or Deliveroo do not fall under the umbrella of ‘courier’ work.
  • Grocery delivery drivers jobs for supermarkets such as Ocado, Sainsburys or Tesco home delivery.

Note: If you do decide to take on a takeaway delivery job using your own vehicle, you will need to take out specialist food delivery insurance.

How much do Couriers earn per parcel?

  • The average hourly pay for a delivery driver is approximately £11 per hour.
  • Amazon Flex delivery drivers can earn in the region of £13-£15 per hour.
  • Self-employed drivers can earn anything up to £40,000 a year, once they’re fully established.
  • Employed delivery drivers very often struggle to earn the minimum wage and can earn as little as £5 per hour up to £11 per hour or more.

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How to start a Courier business UK

  • Choose a business name: Not vitally important or necessary and you can just use your own name and personal bank account to start off. But, if you want to keep your business earnings and expenses separate and also build your own professional brand, then you should choose a name at the outset.
  • Register as self-employed and Class 2 National Insurance: Whilst not urgent as you have until 5th October in your business’s second tax year to register, it makes sense to do this sooner rather than later as you have to set up a Government Gateway ID before being able to use HMRC’s online services.
  • Income and expenditure accounts: Set up an Excel or free Google spreadsheet to enter all business-related income and expenses (outgoings) and make sure you keep all receipts. If you can afford to, consider using digital accounting software such as Sage, Xero or Quickbooks where you can photograph and upload receipts directly to apps on your smartphone. Make sure you use a provider whose app also records your mileage. Or again, depending on your budget, use a professional accountant to submit your Tax Return - especially if you’re planning to take out a mortgage at some point in the future.
  • Establish your business online: If you want to establish yourself as an independent freelance delivery driver in your local area and perhaps even carry out work for local businesses directly, you should create a Google My Business listing and then add your name, address and telephone number (accurately) to at least 10 free or more online business directories such as Yell.com and Yelp.com. Setting up a Facebook page or website and linking it to your Google and other online business listings will further help strengthen your online presence. Also, ask happy customers (who use your services direct) for Google reviews.
  • Buy a suitable vehicle: This isn’t essential if you’ve got quite a roomy, reliable car with low mpg, but having a more spacious van helps to keep your parcels secure and organised. Make sure you use a car or van that is as economical as possible on petrol or diesel.
  • Arrange delivery driver car or van insurance: Self-employed delivery drivers typically need to arrange their own car or van insurance, also known as “hire and reward insurance”. Click the links to find out more about this type of insurance and get a cheap courier insurance quote with Bobatoo.
  • Find freelance courier work: Search for local self-employed delivery driver jobs on Google, Indeed, Reed and Total Jobs. Also, check local job sites and local job pages on social media like Facebook. Optionally, if you can afford to, perhaps consider paying for access to a live courier job platform like the courier exchange UK.

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Note: If your delivery work is in a city, you should check how congestion charges may affect your earnings - you can read more about the latest congestion charges in our blog about 3 new driving laws.

What other insurance do I need to be a courier?

There is no legal requirement for you to have any other type of insurance other than courier or hire and reward insurance.

However, for ‘belt and braces’ cover, you may also want to consider additional insurance cover such as:

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Delivery driver requirements UK

Not all of the following are definitive requirements for becoming a delivery person. However, to increase your chances of getting employed or freelance parcel delivery work you should ideally have:

  • a clean licence (or less than 6 points)
  • driving experience of one year or more (some firms prefer drivers aged 25+)
  • courier insurance (if self-employed)
  • a suitable, reliable and secure vehicle with low mpg
  • good organisation and customer service skills
  • the ability to lift up to 30kg
  • a business only mobile phone
  • a reliable sat nav

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Who’s the Best Courier Company to work for in the UK?

Instead of being a self-employed delivery driver, you may instead want to consider taking on an employed transporter position for less hassle, paperwork and guaranteed work or to perhaps gain more experience before starting out as a freelance delivery driver.

If you want to try and find a local delivery driver job, we suggest you first try Google searching “delivery driver jobs near me” and also check local job adverts on Facebook and local newspapers.

To help you find the best carrier company to work for, we’ve highlighted in green, in the table below, the best UK courier firms to work for according to employee and customer satisfaction ratings. We’ve also included salaries from the job listings website Indeed.

It’s obvious there is some correlation between job satisfaction and customer satisfaction as all of the courier companies we have highlighted have a minimum rating of 3.5 stars, and all of these companies are also in the ‘top 10 list’ of the best parcel firm services in the UK, according to votes by MoneySavingExpert website users.

Company
Indeed job review score
Delivery driver salary (approx.)*
MSE user best parcel firm ranking
Amazon 3.5 £115 per day 3rd
APC 3.6 £24,749 per year No data
APC Overnight 2.9 £23,710 per year 10th
City Sprint 2.7 £19.93 per hour 17th
CollectPlus 4 No data 6th
DHL 3.7 £11.03 per hour 5th
DHL Parcel UK No data No data 11th
DPD 2.8 £24,152 per year 2nd
DPD Local 2.9 £24,395 per year 1st
DX 1.7 £24,437 per year 15th
FedEx 3.8 £458 per week 7th
Hermes 2.4 £11.27 per hour 14th
Parcelforce 3.9 £11.40 per hour 9th
Royal Mail 3.8 £23,574 per year 4th
TNT (FedEx) No data No data 13th
UK Mail 3.2 £21,206 per year 12th
UPS 3.7 £13.29 per hour 8th
Yodel 2.8 £9.63 per hour 16th

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* Approximate salary data was obtained from Indeed.com “delivery driver” jobs and cannot be relied on as a definite salary for that company. If you’d like to see how any of these figures compare per hour, day, week, month or year, you can use a free online salary calculator.