How To Start a Courier Business

a man delivering a package out of a van


This article outlines the steps to take when starting a courier business and some points to consider.

Steps to Starting a Courier Business

  1. Researching a Courier Business – See An Inside Look Into the Business You Want To Start.
  2. Choosing a Location for Your Courier Business For more, see Choosing The Best Location for Your Business.
  3. Choose a Name for Your Courier Business. See How to Choose a Business Name.
  4. Legalizing Your Business – See  How to Register your Business.
  5. Create Your Corporate ID – See A Complete Introduction to Corporate Identity Packages.
  6. Estimating Your Start-up Cost – See Estimating Start-up Costs: Are you Missing Anything?
  7. Writing a Courier Business Plan – See How to Write a Business Plan.
  8. Set up a Business Bank Account – See, How to Open a Business Bank Account.
  9. Get the Funding for Your Courier Business – See Getting a Small Business Loan.
  10. Software Setup – Check out Google’s Latest Search Results for Software Packages Related to a Courier Business.
  11. Get Your Courier Business Insured – See the latest Google Search Results for Courier Business Insurance.
  12. Courier Business Office Setup – See, Here are Considerations for The Setup of Your Office.
  13. Choosing Suppliers for Your Courier Business – See, How to Choose a Supplier You Can Depend on
  14. Create an External Support Team – See, Building a Team of Professional Advisors for Your Business
  15. Hiring Employees – See How and When to Hire a New Employee.

Points to Consider Before Starting Your Courier Business

A courier business can be a low-investment start-up. You may transport important documents, flowers, small packages, or even biological samples.

The biggest issue that separates a privately owned company from the larger delivery companies like UPS and FedEx is same-day service, and deliveries within an hour or two, as well as odd-hour deliveries.

While these larger companies may guarantee next-day service, small couriers tend to operate within a less-than-24-hour time frame.

Courier Business Considerations:

There are a few things to consider when starting out.

  • First, think about the location. Small towns and rural areas may not need a courier service at all.
  • Second, think about the type of service you would like to start. Some couriers only pick up and deliver certain items such as medical packages and court documents.
  • One key to success in this industry is on-time deliveries and careful handling of packages.
  • Personalized service is something you can offer. Getting a few clients who need you to make deliveries consistently will keep you busy and give your business a steady revenue stream.
  • Another critical factor is commercial insurance. The cost depends on the type of vehicle you have, the insurance rates in your area, the area you’ll be making deliveries, and the amount of driving. Don’t make the mistake of using your personal vehicle with personal insurance. If you have an accident, and it’s discovered you are using your personal vehicle for commercial use, your insurance may be void, and that could be a hit that will put you out of business.
  • In addition to insuring your vehicle, you’ll want to have cargo insurance. What if you’re delivering a 40,000 dollar item, and it gets stolen or damaged? You are liable. Take the time to speak with a qualified insurance broker to get the coverage you need so you can sleep at night!
  • Think about the size of the vehicle you will need. Larger vehicles can carry more cargo but require more fuel and are harder to park if your deliveries are in the city.
See also
How to Start a Concession Stand

Courier Skill Set:

    • Good driving skills.
    • A good sense of direction and navigation.
    • The ability to lift heavy packages.
    • Loading and organizing packages that can be delivered according to the route.
    • The ability to schedule deliveries and pickups.
    • Good communication skills.
    • Operate and park a vehicle in high-traffic areas.
    • Use GPS.
    • Time management.

Hours of Operation:

General Hours of Operation:

While most deliveries fall within the normal hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., other delivery jobs may require delivery at any hour of the night or earlier in the morning.

Before and After Hours:

Plan for about an hour’s worth of paperwork, vehicle inspection, and clean-up before or after each day.

Employee Considerations:


See our Page On Licenses and Permits

Approximate Minimum Courier Startup Cost:

The average start-up cost can be very small if you already have a reliable vehicle and GPS; however, it can cost several thousand dollars for a new vehicle, GPS, and dispatch equipment. In addition to the cost of the vehicle, you’ll need to focus on getting the right insurance.


  • Reliable vehicle(s)
  • Logbooks
  • Moving dolly (possibly)
  • Uniforms
  • GPS
  • Courier software
  • Dispatch equipment
  • Storage area
  • Skids and shelving for storage
  • Office Equipment

Monthly Expenses to Consider:

Special Requirements:

  • Possibly a CDL (commercial driver’s license)
  • Commercial vehicle insurance
  • Cargo insurance
  • Dangerous goods certification

Pros and Cons:


  • Service is in high demand in many areas
  • In some cases, you can set your own hours and limitations
  • Low start-up cost
  • Low operating costs
  • Very profitable with the right market


  • Odd hour pickups
  • Some jobs may require you to travel away from home
  • Lots of time on the road
  • High vehicle and fuel costs
  • Vehicle maintenance costs
  • Increased risk of accidents
  • You’ll most likely have to deal with traffic jams daily
  • It may be difficult to have steady work unless you can land a few consistent deliveries contracts.

Type of Customers:

According to the Messenger Courier Association of America (MCAA), customers may include biomedical labs and other medical facilities, financial companies like banks, and law firms. Other customers may be manufacturing plants requiring time-sensitive deliveries and other types of establishments in need of quick deliveries.


The MCAA reports over 7,000 small business couriers involved in the multi-billion dollar industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ( reports about 122,000 couriers, and there is no estimated change over the next decade.


Revenue differs depending on location and how you charge. Couriers can charge by mile, hour, or a flat rate.

For example, Clutch Couriers, based in Santa Cruz, CA, charges $10 for basic deliveries inside Santa Cruz, and rates increase the farther the delivery is from the city, up to $40. Clutch Couriers also charges more for rush deliveries and court deliveries.

Courier Business Resources

The following resources can be useful during the start-up phase and once your business has taken off.

See also
How to Start a Car Wash

Courier Business Industry Trends and Statistics

Analyzing industry trends and statistics related to a courier business can provide tips and insights you may have missed. Click Here for the Latest Google Search Results Related to Trends in the Courier Industry.

Courier Industry Terminology

Being well-versed in your industry is an important aspect of being a business owner. Experience will allow you to pick up the terminology or look at glossaries to get a head start. Search Results Related to Terminology in the Courier Industry.

Courier Associations

The benefits of joining an association are numerous. Most provide news and publications to members. Several of them also host networking events to meet others in the industry.

Click Here To View Associations Related to the Courier Industry. You may also want to check out our page for tips and insights about Joining a Trade Association.

Top Courier Businesses

Studying other businesses will allow you to understand what the market offers, as well as pricing ideas and other aspects. As a result, you may develop a unique idea or learn something you’re missing in your business. Search Google for the Top Courier Businesses in Your Area.

Courier Business Marketing Tips

Running a business involves marketing. A business owner can market their own business by trying one technique at a time, testing, and doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Have a Look at the Latest Articles for Marketing a Courier Business.

Courier Tips

There is no harm in checking out the latest courier tips, whether you are experienced in the field or not. Have a Look at the search results for tips related to couriers.

Books Related To a Courier Business

Your understanding of your industry can also be enhanced by reading books. View the Most Recent Google Search Results for Courier Business Books.

Courier Business Training

Your chances of success increase when you are skilled and informed about your business. Take a look at the latest publications about courier business training. Google’s Search Results Related to a Courier Business.

Courier Industry News

Finding stories related to a courier business in the media is easy by using Google News. See Google’s News Search Results Related to the Courier Industry.

Courier Tweets

Twitter is another excellent way to see what people are saying about couriers. See the Most Recent Tweets Related to Couriers.

Courier Business Videos on YouTube

You can find videos on YouTube that will give you tips and insights to expand your knowledge in your industry.

See the Most Recent Videos Related to a Courier Business.

For More Business Ideas, See Our Start-up Ideas Section.