How to Become an Independent Courier Contractor (in-Depth Guide)

Wondering how to become an independent courier contractor?

There’s no better time to consider this occupation that’s in demand, with signs that the need will only increase.

The United States Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that the employment of delivery truck drivers is “projected to grow 12 per cent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.”

And the well-documented driver shortage in the United Kingdom is not unique.

The European Union is also dealing with a driver shortage that began before the global pandemic. Politico reports that in 2019, 24 per cent of trucker positions were unfilled in the UK, while 22 per cent were unfilled in Poland, 21 percent in the Czech Republic, and 20 per cent in Spain.

While these positions are not just for couriers, there is definitely a need for drivers and couriers, wherever you live.

If you like the idea of working for yourself, then being an independent courier contractor is an ideal choice.

But where do you start? How to become an independent courier contractor?

I’ve compiled some of the best research and advice from current couriers for a complete look at how to become an independent courier contractor.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What an independent courier contractor is
  • What you’ll need to start
  • What types of independent courier contractor jobs there are
  • Independent courier contractor salary
  • How to become an independent courier for FedEx, Amazon, and UPS
  • Costly mistakes to avoid

Let’s dive in and find out what being an independent courier contractor is all about.

How to become an independent courier contractor

What is an independent courier contractor?

Here’s the difference between an on-demand delivery driver and an independent courier contractor.

Delivery drivers

An delivery driver usually works as a company employee, driving a company vehicle instead of a personal vehicle.

Expenses like fuel and maintenance are covered by the company.

Employees are typically paid by the hour, or get a salary, and may also get employment benefits.

They also don’t have to worry about finding customers. They show up at the warehouse and pick up their load every day.

Independent courier contractor

Bu contrast, an independent contractor courier is not a company employee.

Instead, this type of courier uses their own vehicle, even a car.

The independent courier contracts with a company or companies, and is paid either per delivery or per mile. In some instances, the pay could be at a daily rate.

They have to find their own customers, which could be a large company that contracts with drivers like FedEx, or local businesses like florists or law firms.

There are options to sub-contract or find their own end-user customers.

An independent courier contractor is responsible for the cost of their vehicle, the expenses associated with maintaining it, the cost of fuel and other necessary items like a smartphone, as well as vehicle insurance.

Top 5 independent contractor courier requirements

If you’re thinking seriously about becoming an independent courier contractor, there are some important requirements for the job:

1. A reliable vehicle

A van or truck is often recommended for couriers and delivery drivers, but it is possible to work as an independent contractor courier with your own car.

Just be sure the vehicle is reliable, and keep up the maintenance schedule so it remains reliable.

2. Appropriate licences and insurance

You need a valid driver’s license, and your vehicle needs appropriate license plates.

You also need to get the insurance that covers you and your vehicle for courier work.

Regular insurance may not cover being a courier, and you could end up being liable for damages to the goods, or find yourself uninsured in the event of an accident.

3. A smartphone

You need to be able to communicate with customers, so a cell phone is essential.

But by opting for a smartphone, you can load apps that can make your work easier, like a navigation app or one that finds the nearest and cheapest fuel prices.

4. GPS

If you don’t already use a smartphone with a GPS app such as Google Maps, or Waze, then you should get a GPS to help you navigate. Opt for hands-free to stay safe.

5. Other essential items

If you’re delivering large goods, then moving equipment like a dolly may be necessary.

You may need straps to tie down packages. It’s also a good idea to carry a first aid kit, wear a safety vest, and make sure you have comfortable clothing and shoes.

Types of independent courier contractor jobs

There’s no shortage of types of independent courier contractor jobs, and the need for different drivers continues to grow.

IBISWorld reports that “demand for services provided by the Couriers and Local Delivery Services industry, such as courier services and restaurant and grocery delivery, has vastly increased.”

There are a number of factors that have caused this rise, including the global pandemic and the increase in e-commerce sales, online shopping, and businesses including free delivery as a selling point.

In any case, industry employment is expected to continue to rise.

There are also demands for fast delivery, as some retailers promise same-day or next-day delivery to entice customers.

And, there’s a need in many centres for speciality services, such as the delivery of urgent and confidential documentation, critical parts or prototypes for manufacturing, or goods that need to be handled in a special way, like hazardous materials, or fragile goods.

There are options to work for larger companies as part of a network of delivery services. Or to be a local messenger that provides delivery services within a smaller area, like a city’s downtown core.

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