As Australians turn to e-commerce for their shopping needs more frequently than ever before, fast and reliable couriers play a vital role in this process. 

A consumer’s experience of online shopping will largely be determined by the efficiency and professionalism of the courier delivering their package. Most business owners understand this and look to partner with couriers that will deliver their customers packages unharmed, in a timely manner. 

So, if you’re thinking of starting a courier company, then you could be providing many business owners with a highly valued service. Before you start loading your delivery van with packages though, it’s important to set up your courier company the right way. 

Let’s walk through the legal considerations of starting a courier company. That way, your company can stay protected while you’re busy getting people’s much awaited packages to them. 

What Is A Courier Company? 

A courier company is a delivery service. It’s a service that ensures items and documents get from one place to another. The items a courier company specialises in delivering could vary from size and weight, as well as the type of shipping they offer. Couriers can be limited to specialising in local deliveries or they may offer international shipping options. 

When you’re making plans for your courier company, it’s important to determine whether your courier company will operate locally, nationally or internationally. The best way to get this done is by conducting thorough research on your options and putting everything down in a business plan

A business plan is a great way to keep your goals and ideas in one place, as it can be pretty easy to get off track. Plus, with everything written down you’ll have a better chance of properly identifying your courier company’s strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you more clarity when making decisions for your company – something that comes in especially when you officially begin the process of starting your courier company. 

How Do I Start A Courier Company? 

The ‘official’ step in starting your courier company is getting your company registered. Without registering your company, you cannot legally operate it. 

To register your courier company, you will need to do an application with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The actual application to register your company shouldn’t take very long however, there are some important matters you will need to sort out before you can start filling out the application form. A few of these matters include: 

  • Establishing who your company directors and shareholders will be
  • Determine how your company will be governed
  • Deciding on the type of company you will register 
  • Landing on a business name for your courier company 
  • Learning about your ongoing obligations with ASIC

Once you’ve ticked off these items (and a few more) then you’ll be in a better position to register your courier company. Company registration can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to get the help of a legal expert when doing this.

Remember, companies are legal entities on their own – they can own or sell property, incur debts, earn profits and do many more things that a legal person would be able to do. This is great for your personal liabilities however, it also means that the company needs to be set up perfectly in order for it to work the way you need it to. 

A legal expert will be able to ensure your company is set up the right way. Moreover, they can  help you prepare for the continuous commitments you’ll now have towards ASIC as the owner of a company, such as annual reporting and when to change company details. Expert guidance can go a long way in ensuring you’re well prepared for the legal aspects of running a company, so don’t skip out on getting the right kind of help

We’ve written more about the process of setting up a company, check it out here.   

What Do I Need To Start My Own Courier Company? 

It’s easy to think that once your company is set up, you’re all good to start business operations. While this is technically true, it’s the bare minimum. Starting business operations without implementing proper measures to safeguard your courier business is taking an unnecessary risk. After all, you wouldn’t ride a bike without a helmet, right? 

It’s important to legally protect your business before it starts operating in the market. One of the best ways to do this is by having strong, well drafted legal agreements in place. Legal agreements can protect your liabilities,  preserve what belongs to your company and clearly communicate important matters – that way if something does go wrong, your courier company has a better chance of being in the clear. 

We’ve listed a few legal agreements for you to consider below. 

Service Agreement: Before you start working with clients, it’s important to make sure both parties are on the same page. This opens the doors to a stable and productive business relationship. A service agreement covers matters such as payment, scope of work and termination – it’s the first step in ensuring you properly communicate with your clients prior to doing business with them. 

Employment Agreements: When you decide to hire staff to work in your courier company, as an employer it’s up to you to set the standard. Employment agreements are the first step to facilitating a good professional relationship with any employees you may hire. It’s necessary to be clear on matters such as payment, breaks and company policies before hiring someone to be part of your team. 

Privacy Policy: Make sure you have a privacy policy on your courier company’s website. A privacy policy is a legal requirement if your company is going to be collecting any kind of private information or has an annual turnover of more than $3 million. Even if you don’t meet these requirements, a privacy policy is a great way to be transparent with the public and let everyone know what they can (or cannot) expect to be done with their data. 

The exact legal agreements you will require depend highly on your courier company’s unique needs, so get in touch with a legal expert to have a chat about the right legal documents for your company. 

Are There Any Legal Considerations When Starting A Courier Company? 

The legal side of starting a courier company doesn’t just mean utilising the law to protect your company (although that is extremely important) –  it also means following the law! 

As a courier company, there are a number of legal considerations you’ll need to make sure you’re following. For starters, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is one the main legal regulations you will need to be familiar with. The ACL sets out standards for businesses when it comes to interacting with consumers and looks after matters such as warranties, refunds, standard of services, pricing and deceptive conduct. 

However, the ACL isn’t just there to protect consumers, it’s also there for small businesses. The ACL has strict regulations on matters such as unfair contract terms in standard form contracts, which is likely something your courier company will deal with at a certain point. Therefore, getting familiar with the ACL doesn’t just help you keep your company legally compliant, it can help you better understand your own rights as well. 

Other legal considerations to keep in mind include employment laws and data laws. When you hire employees, it’s important to make sure you’re treating them according to national standards. Furthermore, your courier business is likely to collect information that’s pretty private (such as addresses and phone numbers), so it’s crucial to protect that information – no one wants to work with a company they can’t trust. Talking to legal experts in employment law or data and privacy law can help you gain an understanding on what you need to do to ensure you’ve properly taken care of the data and employment considerations that impact your courier company.

Lastly, don’t forget there may be local laws or industry regulations you’ll need to keep an eye out for. It can be difficult to keep up with all the different rules and regulations, especially while trying to run a company! That’s why, it’s better to have a regulatory compliance expert in your corner – they’ll be able to guide your company in the right direction so it’s legally compliant at all times. 

Next Steps 

A courier company can be an exciting new business venture however, it’s important to factor in all the legal considerations when setting up your company. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Starting a courier company is increasingly valuable as e-commerce grows in Australia, with consumers expecting quick, reliable service
  • Developing a detailed business plan will help outline your service scope—whether local, national, or international—and identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Before operating, it’s essential to register your courier business through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), considering the company structure and legal requirements 
  • Legal protection is crucial; drafting strong service agreements, employment/contractor agreements, and a privacy policy can safeguard your business operations 
  • Familiarise yourself with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) to ensure compliance with consumer rights, avoid unfair practices, and understand your own rights as a business
  • Employment and data privacy laws require careful attention to treat employees fairly and protect sensitive information
  • Engaging legal and regulatory compliance experts can help navigate the complexities of starting and running a courier company, ensuring it operates within the law at all times

If you would like a consultation on starting a courier company, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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