Legal issues in the courier industry

Legal issues in the courier industryToday we are going to walk you through the legal issues surrounding the courier industry. If you run a courier service business venture, you will need to keep these factors in your considerations.

For instance, all vehicles being used must be taxed, insured, and have a valid MOT certificate, though the potential issues don’t end there. Also be aware that all drivers working for your business must have the appropriate license for the vehicle they’re using.

When speaking about courier services, there are a wide range of legislation that can apply. Some f this is particularly relevant to businesses within the industry.  We will now display some of the key areas you need to be aware of, though others may also apply.

Courier insurance

Many insurance firms offer devoted courier insurance to cover you against all eventualities. It is in no way cheap, but this is down to the risk of exposure the driver will experience. Couriers make numerous stops, working against the clock, regularly on streets they are not yet familiar with, all of which builds up the risk factor. Thus, they need protection against these potential hazards.

Goods in transit insurance can assist with shielding your precious cargo from damage or burglary, while van breakdown cover will guarantee that your vehicle, the very backbone of your business venture, is covered. If you utilise a fleet, consider looking for a multi-vehicle policy.

Public liability insurance may likewise be shrewd in case there are any accidents or incidents while on a customer’s property. Although this is unlikely, it is always smart to be covered.

What licences does a courier service need?

If your company works with goods vehicles with a gross plated weight of more than 3.5 tonnes (or unladen weight more than 1,525 kg for unplated vehicles) then you will require a goods vehicle operator license in England, Scotland, and Wales. You will require a standard permit, which grants you to convey your own and others’ goods. You should have an operator license for each Traffic Area in which you have a base.

Licenses are given by the Traffic Commissioner for that area. There are eight Traffic Areas covering England, Wales, and Scotland. In Northern Ireland you might require a goods vehicle operator’s licence from the Transport Regulation Unit (TRU) of the Department of the Environment (DOENI).

More data about goods vehicle operator authorising is accessible on the site – and from the DOENI in Northern Ireland.

It is an offence to drive, or to allow someone else to drive, a vehicle without a legitimate driving licence which covers that classification of vehicle. To get a licence, drivers should take and pass a driving test for the suitable class of vehicle. To drive a vehicle that surpasses 7.5 tons gross weight a driver should hold a LGV (large goods vehicle) licence. Drivers of dangerous goods vehicles are likewise expected to hold a training certificate acquired by going to a supported course and finishing a composed assessment.

Drivers of large goods vehicles have to hold a certificate of professional competence (CPC).

Note that any individual who transports live animals for their business – for instance a specialist dog courier – requires a transporter authorisation from DEFRA and, where fitting, a certificate of vehicle approval. You can apply for animal transporter authorisation on the government website.

There could be no other authorising necessities relating explicitly to messengers, past the requirement for all vehicles to have a valid vehicle excise duty license (road tax). Note that the law requires each of your engine vehicles to be protected constantly except if they are announced to be off the road (SORN).

Goods vehicle legislation 

An operator’s licence will be required if you are using goods vehicles that weigh over 3.5 tonnes, so you and any drivers on your team must be appropriately licensed. Certain restrictions are in place that govern continuous driving hours and mandatory daily and weekly rest periods. If you employ other drivers, you will need to make periodic checks to ensure you are following the rules; refer to the tachograph records.

All new vehicles that require a tachograph cannot be fitted with the old type and must rather be fitted with a digital tachograph.

Goods vehicles must be tested each year so that you can be sure they are safe to use and remain mechanically sound. Furthermore, most goods vehicles require a Department of Transport plate which shows maximum permissible weights for the vehicle cargo.

If you want to discover more about every aspect of goods vehicle operator and driver regulation, you should visit the Government website.


All your business’ vehicles must remain properly insured at all times. The only way they wouldn’t have to be is if they have been declared off road and you aren’t using them.

As well as vehicle insurance you will require suitable protection cover for goods in transit. EU legislation requires motor fleet operators to submit details of all vehicles worked and protected to the Motor Insurance Database. Visit the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) site for further data.

Goods and services

Many legislations apply to every kind of business venture imaginable in order to protect the interests of the consumer/customer. For instance, you cannot mislead people with the description of goods and services. You are the one responsible for ensuring the service you provide aligns with what your business has promised and is of a satisfactory quality.

If you want to discover more about the different aspects of consumer protection and fair trading in the UK, you should visit the government website accordingly.

Health and safety

You will need to be sure you are complying with the workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation 

If you are going to employ members of staff, you will need to comply with employment legislation.

Key areas of legislation include the following:

  • Recruitment and employment contracts
  • Pay and pensions
  • Working time: hours, leave, flexible working
  • Employment policies
  • Sickness and sick pay
  • Maternity, paternity, and adoption
  • Discrimination
  • Managing home workers, remote workers, lone workers
  • Discipline and grievance
  • Dismissals and redundancies
  • Employment tribunals

Insurance for a start-up courier service 

Lastly, we will shortly touch on the insurance for a courier service business.

As you start up a business in this industry, you will require some insurance cover. To ensure you get the cover you need, you should contact an insurer and explain exactly how your business is going to operate. They will then be able to make recommendations based on the things you have told them.

Aside from motor fleet insurance and breakdown cover for your vehicles, you may also require the following:

  • employer’s liability
  • public liability
  • premises and premises contents
  • goods in transit (being collected or delivered)
  • cash
  • business interruption

You should also note that the Despatch Association offers advice on insurance to its members. If this is something you are interested in, feel free to sign up today.

Business Finance for courier businesses 

Invoice Funding are UK leaders in Business Finance for the Courier Industry. We have sourced funding for over 200 courier companies since we started trading back in 2010.

Should your transport business would like to know more about invoice funding for couriers, the process is quick, easy, and simple. Simply complete the online enquiry on our website. Once it has been received an invoice funding for courier’s specialist will be in contact.

Fund Your Business

Speed up your cash-flow today. Forget issues caused by slow-paying customers