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Encyclopedia > Courier

A courier is a person or company employed to deliver messages, packages and mail. Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail services by features such as speed, security, tracking, signature, specialization and individualization of services, and committed delivery times, which are optional for most everyday mail services. As a premium service, couriers are usually more expensive than usual mail services, and their use is typically restricted to packages where one or more of these features are considered important enough to warrant the cost. Look up courier in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Image File history File links Gnome-globe. ... For other uses, see Person (disambiguation). ... The term company may refer to a separate legal entity, as in English law, or may simply refer to a business, as is the common use in the United States. ... Message in its most general meaning is an object of communication. ... In GIS or Tax talk a parcel is: a contiguous area of land described in a single description by a deed or other instrument or as one of a number of lots on a plat or plan, separately owned and capable of being separately conveyed. ... For other uses, see Mail (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Mail (disambiguation). ...

Different courier services operate on all scales, from within specific towns or cities, to regional, national and global services. The world's largest courier companies are DHL, FedEx and UPS, the last two being based in the United States and the former now owned by Deutsche Post, a German company, and offer services worldwide, typically via a hub and spoke model. A DHL Boeing 757. ... Federal Express redirects here. ... United Parcel Service, Inc. ... Deutsche Post Tower in Bonn Deutsche Post AG (ISIN: DE0005552004, LSE: DPO) is a German post, logistics and courier headquartered in Bonn, previously the German state-owned mail monopolist. ... The Spoke-hub distribution paradigm derives its name from a bicycle wheel, which consists of a number of spokes jutting outward from a central hub. ...


Couriers prior to the industrial era

In ancient times runners and homing pigeons were used to deliver timely messages. When the horse became domesticated its use was rapidly adopted by couriers. Before there were mechanized courier services foot messengers physically ran miles to their destinations. To this day there are marathons directly related to actual historical messenger routes. This article is about the NASA space mission. ... Pigeons with messages attached. ... Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse (Equus caballus, sometimes seen as a subspecies of the Wild Horse, Equus ferus caballus) is a large odd-toed ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ... Modern-day marathon runners For other senses of this word, see Marathon (disambiguation). ... This article is about the NASA space mission. ...

Development of the modern courier industry

As railways expanded they became the primary mode of transportation for people and parcels alike, then as the automobile and later airplanes became common and cost effective; they became the preferred methods of delivery. Barcodes are being extensively used in the courier industry.It enables track & trace which is a value added service facilitated by leading courier comapnies. “Car” and “Cars” redirect here. ... Fixed-wing aircraft is a term used to refer to what are more commonly known as aeroplanes in Commonwealth English (excluding Canada) or airplanes in North American English. ... Wikipedia encoded in Code 128 Wikipedia encoded in Code 93 Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia encoded in the DataMatrix 2D barcode For the taxonomic method, see DNA barcoding. ...

Types of courier

In cities, there are often bicycle couriers or motorcycle couriers but most couriers today use trucks and aircraft. Owner Drivers operate alone or in small groups, covering both regular routes and often undertake 'overflow' work from larger courier companies and major integrators. Look up city, City in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Bicycle messenger in Atlanta doing a track stand. ... A motorcycle courier is a courier operating via a motorcycle or motor scooter. ... For other uses, see Truck (disambiguation). ... Flying machine redirects here. ...

Many companies who operate under a Just-In-Time or "JIT" inventory method often utilize on-board couriers. On-Board Couriers are individuals who can travel at a moments notice anywhere in the world, usually via commercial airlines. In the United States, Legal Air Worldwide is among one of the whole courier companies that provide this service to the largest courier companies.[1] While this type of service is the second costliest - general aviation charters are far more expensive - companies analyze the cost of service to engage an on-board courier versus the "cost" the company will realize should the product not arrive by a specified time (i.e. an assembly line stopping, untimely court filing, lost sales from product or components missing a delivery deadline, organ transplants). Just In Time (JIT) is an inventory strategy implemented to improve the return on investment of a business by reducing in-process inventory and its associated costs. ... General aviation (abbr. ...

Representative Couriers

Over time, demand for a new type of representative courier has emerged. With the increase in fuel prices and productivity goals monitored closely by companies, this new type of all-in-one courier has developed to "take care of business". Workers in companies have more work and less time to be out of the office. Operating largely using independent contractors that have gone through a screening process and background checks have found a niche in the courier industry. Research, intransit pet care, complex paperwork filing, and a host of other services are now offered in this new category of courier service.

Courier industry by country


The genus of the UK sameday courier market stems from the London Taxi companies but soon expanded into dedicated motorcycle despatch riders with the taxi companies setting up separate arms to their companies to cover the courier work. During the late 1970s small provincial and regional companies were popping up throuout the country. Today the same-day courier market in the UK is predominantly carried out by small/medium local independent companies. They usually have "Owner Drivers" who do the actual deliveries.

Small courier companies and owner drivers occasionally cover ‘overflow’ work from the Major Integrators (FedEx, UPS, etc.) however the POD (proof of delivery) requirements often make them unable to cover work. There is potential for this situation to change with the development of innovative new webapps that will allow small courier companies to meet the POD requirements with little outlay. The impact of these changes is unknown as of yet, however it has the potential to reverse the declining trend of recent years for small companies as more work will become available to them.


The courier industry has long held an important place in United States commerce and been involved in pivotal moments in the nation's history such as westward migration and the gold rush. Wells Fargo was founded in 1852 and rapidly became the preeminent package delivery company. The company specialized in shipping gold, packages and newspapers throughout the West, making a Wells Fargo office in every camp and settlement a necessity for commerce and connections to home. Shortly afterward, the Pony Express was established to move packages more quickly than the traditional method, which followed the stagecoach routes. The success of efficient deliveries on the Pony Express route has been credited with keeping California in the Union during the American Civil War.[citation needed] It also illustrated the demand for timely deliveries across the nation, a concept that continued to evolve with the railroads, automobiles and interstate highways and which has emerged into today’s courier industry. For other meanings, see Gold rush (disambiguation) A California Gold Rush handbill A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers into the area of a dramatic discovery of commercial quantities of gold. ... An older Wells Fargo branch, located in Berkeley, California Wells Fargos corporate headquarters and main branch Wells Fargo & Co. ... Frank E. Webner, pony express rider c. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Largest metro area Greater Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... This is the top-level page of WikiProject trains Rail tracks Rail transport refers to the land transport of passengers and goods along railways or railroads. ...

Other aspects

US Job market

The number of jobs for couriers is projected to decrease over the next 5 to 10 years.[citation needed] The number of packages being delivered is increasing, but technology is creating efficiencies for the delivery companies that are reducing the number of employees required to deliver each package.[citation needed]

Sameday couriers

Sameday or expedited courier services deliver in less than 24 hours and is an integral part of any modern economy. There are roughly seven thousand courier companies in the United States that make up this multi-billion dollar sector. The business model for the courier industry is particularly dependent on independent contractors - In fact, the MCAA estimates that 50-65% of U.S. courier companies use IC's to make deliveries in addition to their own dedicated employee resources. The nature of the industry, with its on-demand, often unscheduled delivery model, requires a varying number of courier drivers on any given day and time of day to complete a set service. Experts in this method of network delivery maintain hundreds of standby couriers in a "ready to move" status. However this business model is under threat from IRS Reclassification where IC's are being recategorized as W-2 employees. This reclassification typically results in fines being imposed on the offending courier company. IRS Reclassification occurs where persons claimed as (or claiming to be) independent contractors are recategorized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or by state tax authorities, as W-2 employees. ...

Many expedited courier companies are regional, small businesses, which can also provide additional services such as logistics management, archive warehousing, messenger centers, outsourced mailroom services and coordinated airfreight forwarding delivery services.

In the UK, most of the couriers or despatch riders were motorcyclists when the sameday delivery business started to show up in London. These tended to evolved from taxi companies but soon regional courier companies were popping up throughout the country. Starting in the mid 1980s, bicycle couriers , who were more economical for shorter distance deliveries[1], began to supplant motorcycle couriers in the larger cities. Rising costs, including insurance premiums and petrol, made motorcycle couriers less competitive.[citation needed] Except for the metropolitan areas most of the sameday couriers throughout the country now use small vans to do deliveries. Bicycle messenger in Atlanta doing a track stand. ...


These couriers specialize in delivering important or sensitive packages that need to be received in the local area; and/or because of time and temperature concerns, such as organs for transplant or key equipment or parts that are necessary for day to day operations. While most companies use courier services certain industries depend on couriers on a daily basis. Biomedical labs need samples for testing and evaluation, manufacturing industry require parts to keep their plants operating smoothly, financial institutions transfer multiple documents every day between branches and processing centers, law firms must deliver confidential signatured documents on very strict deadlines for court filings and pharmaceutical distributors use couriers to transport medications to hospitals and nursing homes. This article is about the biological unit. ... “Transplant” redirects here. ... A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. ... Pharmacology (in Greek: pharmacon is drug, and logos is science) is the study of how chemical substances interfere with living systems. ... Rest home for seniors in Český Těšín, Czech Republic SNF redirects here. ...

Even two-day delivery services use courier firms. Items that are mis-sorted, forgotten or just not picked up on a larger couriers route. When a mistake has been discovered, courier firms fill in the gap and ensure packages are delivered on time.


Courier firms provide an invaluable service because the "big five" (DHL, UPS, FedEx , Aramex and TNT N.V.) in the delivery business simply do not provide same-day delivery services uniquely designed to meet specific individual customer needs. Expedited delivery firms also prevent the big five from having a complete monopoly on deliveries that must be completed in a short period of time. This competition, both among couriers and with the big five, has greatly increased the quality and professionalism of the industry, while also ensuring reasonable rates for customers. These 7,000 plus small businesses also help to keep the pricing competitive and the big five honest. Additionally, the courier industry consists almost entirely of small, locally owned and operated businesses, ensuring that revenue is retained within the community served, rather than siphoned off by a multi-national corporation. A DHL Boeing 757. ... United Parcel Service, Inc. ... Federal Express redirects here. ... Aramex is an international shipping company based in Amman, Jordan. ... Royal TPG Post wall box TNT N.V. (Euronext: TNT, NYSE: TP) is a provider of global express delivery, logistics, and mail services. ...

See also

Bicycle messenger in Atlanta doing a track stand. ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... In most postal systems Express mail refers to an accelerated delivery service for which the customer pays a surcharge and receives faster delivery. ... For other uses, see Mail (disambiguation). ... A motorcycle courier is a courier operating via a motorcycle or motor scooter. ... A mule is someone who, knowingly or unknowingly smuggles something onto an airplane or across a national border. ... Package delivery is the shipping of packages and parcels (and in some instances high value mail) as single shipments. ... // Post riders or postriders describes a horse and rider postal delivery system that existed at various times and various places throughout history. ... Telegraph and Telegram redirect here. ...


  1. ^ Fincham, Ben (2004-01). Bicycle Couriers in the 'New' Economy. Cardiff University. “page 5 The modern bike courier became established in the UK in the mid 1980s”

External links

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