Business Opportunities for Freelance Same Day Courier Owner Drivers

Sorry about the misleading title – there are NO ‘courier business opportunities’ on this page, just a few words of warning for anyone thinking about becoming a ‘freelance same day courier’ or a ‘courier owner driver’.

As the recession, or ‘downturn’ to put an optimistic slant on it, starts to bite, particularly in the building trade, we’re starting to see more and more new entrants to the same day courier industry. It seems an inevitable feature of every economic slowdown that the industry is swamped with out of work tradesman and redundant factory-workers, keen to put their unused van (or their redundancy payment) to use starting a new business for themselves.

It’s an easy enough business to get into, just a van and a mobile phone required. Nowadays it’s apparently not even necessary to have a collection of maps, or even any map-reading skills; just spend £75 on a satnav and you’re ready for work. That’s the theory at least.

There will no doubt be no shortage of local and national same day courier companies Read More…

Posted under Courier and Freight Exchanges, Courier Basics, Courier Business, Courier Scams

Posted by Alec at 4:02 pm, October 5, 2008

Speed limits for vans – are the DfT even more confused than the rest of us?

For many years there’s been confusion among some van drivers over the speed limits that apply to their vans. This has led to many prosecutions of drivers of medium and large vans for exceeding the speed limit.

Many van drivers just assume that the speed limits for their vans are the same as for a private car. In many cases, particularly for smaller vans, they may be right, but for anything bigger than a small van they’re wrong.

The maximum speed limits for all goods vehicles of 3500kg and less, unless lower limits are indicated by signs, is 70mph for motorways, 60mph for dual-carriageways and 50mph for single-carriageway roads. The only exemption is for ‘car-derived vans’ with a maximum loaded weight (GVW) of 2000kg or less, to which the speed limits for cars apply (70, 70, 60).

For many years it seems that the police have interpreted ‘car-derived van’ as meaning any small van with a GVW of 2,000kg or less. This would include many of the vans typically driven by same day couriers, vans like the Escort, Courier, Berlingo/Partner, some Doblos, Combo, Nemo/Bipper/Fiorino, Kangoo, as well as some of the more obvious ‘car shaped’ vans like the Astravan, Fiesta, Corsa and Punto.

In December 2007 the Department for Transport (DfT) issued a document Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Speeding, Vans

Posted by Alec at 7:48 pm, October 4, 2008

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Example VAT Invoice Template for UK Couriers

Following on from my recent post What Details Need to Appear on a VAT Invoice for Courier Services in the UK?  I thought it might be useful to supply an editable invoice template to illustrate exactly what’s needed and to maybe provide a starting point for to enable same day couriers to design their own invoices which meet all the legal and business requirements.

Download the template here (MS Excel template file) or view it as a Read More…

Posted under Accounting Systems, Courier Basics, Courier Business, VAT

Posted by Alec at 11:42 am, August 7, 2008

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What Details Need to Appear on a VAT Invoice for Courier Services in the UK?

There are strict, but thankfully very simple, rules for what needs to appear on a VAT invoice in the UK.

To satisfy HMRC you need to include on your invoice:

The date of issue of the invoice.
A sequential number that uniquely identifies the invoice.

Your business’s name, address and VAT registration number.
The name and address of your customer.
Your customer’s VAT registration number (only if they’re VAT registered in another EU country and you’re invoicing without VAT).
The date of supply of services (the date you did the work).
A description of the services supplied (from a VAT point of view ‘Courier work’ would be OK – your customer may want more detail).
The VAT rate applied (normally 17.5%).
Total amount of VAT payable.
The total amount payable for the whole invoice excluding VAT.
The total amount of VAT charged at each VAT rate (normally just one entry for the 17.5% rate).
The unit price of the services supplied and the number of units charged for – if this is normal practice for your industry (as far as I’m aware it isn’t normal practice in the courier industry) or required by your customer. In practice you can ignore this unless you charge your customer by an agreed price per mile or hour worked AND they’ve asked you to include the figure on your invoice. For example ‘200 miles @ 70p/plm’.

To satisfy Companies House and Trading Standards:

If your business trades under a name other that its actual Read More…

Posted under Accounting Systems, Courier Basics, Courier Business, Courier Financial Issues, Late Payment, VAT

Posted by Alec at 7:32 pm, August 5, 2008

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Statutory Interest and Late Payment Charges

www.payontime.co.uk

www.payontime.co.uk/doctor/doctor_main.html

The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998 gives you the right to claim interest and compensation for late payments.

This is a statutory right – your customer doesn’t have to agree to it, you don’t have to inform them in advance that you intend to charge them if they pay late and you are not permitted to agree in advance to waive late payment fees unless a suitable alternative form of late payment penalty is agreed.

For invoices up to £999.99 you can charge £40 PER LATE INVOICE. For invoices of between £1,000.00 and £9,999.99 you can charge £70 PER INVOICE. You can also charge interest on a daily basis, currently at a rate of 13% per annum.

You don’t charge VAT on the late payment or the interest and you don’t charge the late payment fee on a recurring basis.

You don’t HAVE to charge the late payment fee but unless you’ve specifically agreed to waive the fee the late payer still owes it to you EVEN AFTER THEY’VE PAID THE ORIGINAL DEBT. The Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Courier Business, Courier Financial Issues, Late Payment, Legal Issues

Posted by Alec at 5:19 pm, August 2, 2008

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Mileage Allowance Scheme for Self Employed Couriers

A typical self-employed same day courier will put a lot of effort into keeping their vehicle running costs as low as possible; the difference between their running costs and their turnover is their profit after all. It’s quite common to leave financial matters, particularly tax-related matters, to an accountant or bookkeeper and I’m always astonished how many ‘accountants’ fail to advise their same day courier clients to consider using the Mileage Allowance Scheme rather than claiming their actual vehicle running costs against tax.

Many accountants seem completely unaware that this option is available to their clients, despite it being prominently featured in the HMRC Help Sheet HS222: How to calculate your taxable profits.

Self-employed people with a turnover under the VAT registration threshold Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Courier Financial Issues, Mileage Allowance Scheme

Posted by Alec at 8:42 am, July 30, 2008

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VOSA using ANPR technology to target overloaded vehicles

This really is old news now but it’s surprising how many commercial vehicle drivers, particularly same day couriers and other drivers of vans below 3500kg GVW, aren’t aware of this system and how much it affects their chances of being caught if they take a risk and overload their vehicle.

The system, known as VIPER, involves weight sensors actually embedded within the road surface (known as WIMS – Weigh-In Motion System) which measure the weight of each axle going over them to within 5% accuracy. The vehicle details are checked using ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and the VOSA operative in front of his computer immediately takes the decision whether to request that the vehicle’s stopped and brought in for accurate weighing at the VOSA weighbridge.

During the trials of the system from June 2004 to December 2005 VOSA reported a 700% improvement in the accuracy of their vehicle stops for suspected overloading. Out of Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Legal Issues, Vans, Weight Limits for Vans

Posted by Alec at 2:09 pm, July 26, 2008

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How many hours am I allowed to drive my van for?

For most same day couriers within the UK the only legal restrictions on driving and working time will be the domestic drivers’ hours rules and some aspects of the Working Time Directive.

The GB Domestic Drivers’ Hours Rules apply to all drivers of goods vehicles, however small, driven in Great Britain (Northern Ireland has its own rules) in connection with a business, where EU drivers’ hours rules (tacho regulations) don’t apply.

The rules are quite straightforward. In any day (defined as 24 hours from the start of duty) you’re allowed to drive for a maximum of 10 hours. Driving is defined as being at the controls of a vehicle for the purposes of controlling its movement, whether Read More…

Posted under Courier Basics, Drivers' Hours, Employment

Posted by Alec at 4:19 pm, July 24, 2008

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