Legal issues in the courier industry

Legal issues in the courier industryIf you run a courier service business venture, you will need to keep these legal issues 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 issues are particularly relevant to businesses within the industry such as lost or damaged parcels. We will now display some of the key areas you need to be aware of, though others may also apply.

What licences does a courier service need?

If your courier 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 and operators licence requirements are issued by 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.

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.

Comparing quotes is a great way to potentially reduce the cost of insurance for courier drivers and business owners. As insurance costs rise we can help you get quotes from multiple fleet insurance companies near you, so that you can find an insurer that suits your budget.

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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.

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.


Courier business owners need to be aware of legal issues that they may come across while running their company. These issues include holding the correct insurance both employers and public liability insurance, as well as goods in transit to prevent any future legal issues against the courier firm in the future.

Read more: Courier industry sector trends

Business Finance specialist at Invoice funding | + posts

Seasoned professional with a strong passion for the world of business finance. With over twenty years of dedicated experience in the field, my journey into the world of business finance began with a relentless curiosity for understanding the intricate workings of financial systems.

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