25 October 20214 minute read

Ask the Expert: How Much Do You Need to Start as an independent Courier?

Ask the Expert: How Much Do You Need to Start as an independent Courier?

You need to make money as an independent courier from the start, or you could end up out of pocket. It really is that simple. However, when you get it right, courier driving can be extremely rewarding. You get to work for yourself and pick your own hours.

So how do you do it? What type of vehicle should you buy? And how can you save cash?

Most importantly, how much money do you need to get started?

Well, there’s no particular hard and fast way about it, but I’ll give you a rough breakdown.

Here are the essential things you need to know to get started as an independent courier, so you save time and make money.

This is part of a series of regular posts from Pete the Courier Driver with hints and tips for delivery drivers. If you’re new to delivery driving, make sure to also check out How to Make Money as a Courier.

Why independent couriers need second-hand vans

Now, the first thing you’re going to need is a van. I recommend buying a van, and I recommend buying a second-hand van.

Because if you’re new to being an independent courier, you don’t really know what you’re doing.

Suppose you go out and you sign up for the lovely, new, shiny van. In that case, you don’t want to realize a couple of months down the road that you should have bought a larger model, or that you need a curtainside. Then you can’t change it because you’ve locked yourself in.

Start off with a decent, reliable, second-hand van.

Then, if you realize in a couple of months that it’s not the right one, you can sell it and get a different one. You’re not too far out of pocket.

Bear in mind that if you go and buy a brand new van, you might be tempted to get that on a lease. And a lease will hit you every month for the next three to four years.

That’s all going to come off the top or off your bottom line.

What to pay for a vehicle as an independent courier

As for the price of a van, it really is “how long is a piece of string?”

I would say you don’t go mad, but don’t go too cheap.

Depending on the size of the van, I’d say you’re looking at a budget of between £2,000 and £10,000. For £2,000 for a basic, small van runaround, you can even get very tidy ones for around the £1,500 mark.

But for £2,000, you’ll get yourself a nice, tidy, small van. Going up to about £10,000 for a Luton.

You can get more expensive Luton vans. But £10,000 should buy you one.

You’re probably hoping to get a van for around the 100,000–150,000 mile mark, with a decent service history from a dealer.

Then you’re going to need your insurances.

What insurance an independent courier needs

You’re going to need goods in transit insurance, and you’re going to need hire and reward or light haulage insurance.

This, again, will all depend on where you live, where you’re parking your van, how old you are. And you can have quotes, anything from £500 up to £10,000.

But once you’ve got your van and you’ve got your insurances, then you’re going to need just a few essential bits.

Essentials every independent courier needs

If you’ve got a Luton with a tail lift, get yourself a pallet truck. Because that way, you can do pallet truck jobs.

If you’ve just got yourself a small van, then you want to get some little straps. Or if you’ve got a medium-sized van, medium-sized straps.

For a medium-sized van, a little sack barrow comes in handy. And just your general bits and pieces: your spare bulb, with your first-aid kit, your PPE, and then you’re set to go.

Independent courier PPE high-visability jacket and steel toecap boots

So that’s what you’re going to need for your basics. And then after that, depending on how you run, you’re going to need some money in the bank.

How much you need in hand as an independent courier

If you’re going on a subcontractor platform like the Courier Exchange, or Easy Load, and returnloads.net, then you’re going to need about two to three months’ money in the bank.

Suppose you’re going to do anything like Hermes, Amazon, or Argos. In that case, you’re probably going to be looking at about a month in hand.

That’s how long you’re waiting before you get paid.

So as long as you’ve got enough money in the bank to last the month, you’re okay.

If you are going to subcontract with a multi-stop company, get yourself a decent app.

I recommend Circuit. When you bear in mind how much money you’ve just spent on a van, insurance, tax, and straps, you’re going to make your money back tenfold in the same time – and with far less aggravation.

But, how much should that be?

How to work out the money you need as an independent contractor

Get yourself a pen and paper. Find yourself a van, get some quotes on the insurance, get your straps, and your blankets, and all that kind of stuff, and then do an accumulation of your household bills.

Do a line down the middle, and on one side, you’ve got your fixed costs: your van, your insurance, your tax, your straps, your blankets, and your PPE.

Write an accumulation of your household bills on the other side.

Add those two figures together: That’s how much money you need to get running.

Don’t forget to add a little that you may need for a rainy day.

But that’s your bog-standard answer. And if you’ve got that together, you’re good to go.

Starting as an independent courier: Driving it home

Being an independent delivery driver can be fulfiling. It’s a convenient and empowering way to earn money. It also gives you the freedom to work and earn what you want, when you want it.

You do need to know what cash you’ll need in hand, however. It isn’t that difficult to work out, and it makes sure that you avoid any financial pitfalls:

✔️ Get a second-hand van or truck
✔️ Get the right insurance
✔️ Get essentials to take with you and make life easier
✔️ Work out how much money you need in hand
✔️ Get a decent route optimization app

Now that you have seen how much money you need as an independent courier, install Circuit for a free trial now and make delivery easy by saving an hour a day.

About the author

Peter CoathContributor

Pete is a courier driver throughout the U.K. He posts videos about where he has been, what he is delivering, and what he has learnt to help you make money. You can find Pete on YouTube.