Couriers (often called delivery drivers) play a key role in the supply chain, providing goods and services to customers in a timely and efficient manner. There are many different types of them in Britain; from driving a van locally, to handling a long-distance lorry, each with their own unique skills and responsibilities.

there are different qualifications, and skills, needed to succeed in the job.

So: whether you're looking for a career in delivery driving or just want to learn more about the different types of jobs that are available, this comprehensive guide will give you all the information you need.

What is a Courier?

A Courier is someone who transports goods from one place to another, within a specified timeframe. They may be responsible for delivering goods locally within a certain radius; or long distance across the country. Many delivery drivers are employed by couriers and logistics companies, driving a variety of different vehicles from cars or vans to trucks. They usually work as part of a team, transporting goods from a warehouse or distribution centre to a retail outlet, customer, or other location.

Delivery drivers may also work for local businesses like restaurants or florists, making regular deliveries within a certain area. Most delivery drivers work shifts that may be long, unsociable, or irregular, so flexibility is often important. A good driving record is essential, because vehicles are often heavy and may be required to travel at high speed.

Couriers may also be required to unload their vehicles, making sure goods are safely delivered. They may be required to work outdoors in all weathers, often at unsociable hours; and they may have to lift heavy items, so good physical strength and stamina are essential.

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Types Of Courier Work

  • Local Van Drivers often work for a local business, taking food and groceries from a distribution centre to shops, restaurants, and hotels. They may also transport items that are too large, or heavy, for customers to carry; for example white goods (such as washing machines and refrigerators) or building materials, with the van's bed or trolley being used for loading and unloading.

    They are either employees earning a salary, or self employed, with work being offered at times of high demand.

    The job usually requires good manual dexterity, as items are often delivered with a trolley or hand truck. They should be able to work flexible hours, including weekends, and may be required to unload their vehicle at times.
  • Long Distance HGV Drivers transport goods over large distances, delivering goods to customers around the country. They may be employed by a variety of companies, such as supermarkets, food producers, or haulage companies. They may be fully employed, or contracted by the day, week, or month, and be paid a salary plus mileage. They often work a standard shift pattern with the majority of deliveries made in the early hours of the morning or late at night to avoid traffic.

    They are required to hold a valid HGV licence. Manual dexterity is required, as goods are usually loaded onto a lorry using a trolley or lift. They may also be required to unload their vehicle at times.
  • Multi-Drop Drivers transport goods from a single location to multiple destinations in a specified timeframe. Goods may be anything from a parcel to a chilled food item, such as milk or meat.

    They are often contracted by a company that supplies a variety of different businesses with goods, such as a milkman or bread delivery person. They are usually paid a salary, with a bonus structure linked to a performance target. They may be expected to work shifts that may be long, unsociable, or irregular, and they often drive a van, although they may be required to drive other vehicles, such as an HGV.
  • Food delivery couriers are usually self employed driving their own vehicles, and they collect hot meals from various outlets to deliver direct to the consumer; although some are directly employed by the outlets themselves, and are expected to carry out other duties as well as deliveries.

Qualifications and Skills Needed for Couriers

Delivery drivers are usually required to have a full driving licence with no major driving convictions, although certain types of drivers may be required to be experienced in, and have a licence for, heavier vehicles. For certain types of drivers, such as HGV drivers, a health check may be required. Good body strength is often required for drivers who have to load or unload their vehicle and good communication skills are required for drivers who have to make deliveries to businesses or customers.

Working Conditions for Delivery Drivers

Delivery drivers may often work unsociable hours, including weekends, evenings, and early mornings. They may be required to work outdoors in all weathers and often lift heavy items. This may be particularly true for multi-drop drivers, who may have to unload and load their vehicle several times during the shift.

Long distance HGV drivers may have to be away from home for long periods of time, whilst local van drivers may be based locally and be required to work a variety of different hours.

Many drivers work a combination of part-time and full-time hours, either employed directly by the company or through a franchised deliverer.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Courier

The advantages of being a Courier are that you are often your own boss, you can set your own hours, and you can travel to different places. You get to meet different people from all walks of life, and you get paid to travel.

However you could be responsible for your own vehicle, and you have to be careful of your fuel consumption. You could work long hours, weekends, and sometimes have to work in difficult weather conditions. You have to be careful of other drivers on the road, and you have to meet tight deadlines.


Delivery drivers are a critical part of the supply chain, delivering goods to both businesses and consumers across the country. The Courier role is a varied one, with many different types of drivers transporting goods in a variety of vehicles, from vans to lorries.

To succeed in this role, drivers must be safety conscious, possess good driving skills, and be able to work long hours, often at unsociable hours. Earnings can be very high though, and many people in the industry enjoy the travel and flexibility that the job brings.

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