What Are The Different Types of Courier Services?

May 7, 2021

Courier Services

With so many different types of courier services and options, you might wonder which best fits your needs. Click here to discover the answer to that question.

Wondering what types of courier services there are? To start with, there are standard parcel delivery services. Then, there are other, specialized couriers who deliver certain types of items that most other couriers won’t.

Courier Knocking On Door Of House To Deliver Package

Some can, for example, transport perishable items. Others are equipped to safely transport hazardous materials.

And besides differing in what they ship, couriers also have different methods of shipping. These differences affect the speed and security of the delivery.

There’s actually quite a long list of courier services, which we’ve provided below.

Types of Courier Services: How They Ship

First, let’s explore the different ways that couriers ship your items. This includes how fast, how far, and how secure these transport methods are. Also, note that most couriers provide some but not all of these services.

  1. Standard Shipping Couriers

Standard delivery services are just what they sound like. Their primary purpose is to ship normal packages in basically the same ways that the postal service does.

24 Hour Delivery Service

They’ll surely offer a variety of delivery options, including some of the others on this list. Generally, though, most standard delivery services will transport packages by truck in 2 or 3 days.

  1. Next-Day/Overnight Couriers

If you can’t wait 2-3 days for delivery, next-day delivery services are a better option. Often, couriers are able to achieve this faster delivery time by ignoring regular business hours and taking an overnight trip to get the package delivered.

  1. Same-Day Couriers

Same-day delivery services deliver packages within about 6 hours. But there are typically a few restrictions to this service.

Mainly, it must be possible for the courier to make that trip in that amount of time. In most cases, this means the item to be delivered must originate from the same local area as the ordered destination.

For example, there are a lot of local couriers who transport goods and other items between local businesses. Couriers who deliver your lunch from a nearby restaurant count as same-day deliveries. Some businesses can achieve same-day delivery by shipping ordered items from a local warehouse via a courier.

The other restriction is business hours. Most same-day delivery services require the order to be in before noon. This ensures that the courier can make the trip by the promised deadline.

  1. Rush/On-Demand Courier Services

On-demand/rush deliveries are even faster than same-day deliveries because they are less restricted. For example, the service might agree to deliver within 4 hours or less no matter what time of day the order was placed.

Same Day Couriers

Usually, this means the courier starts transporting the item the moment the order is placed. They mightn’t wait for certain business hours.

Also, other services might wait to deliver until they have enough orders to fill a truck. But rush orders are usually fulfilled individually so they can be delivered as soon as possible.

A common example of this is a bike messenger service. We might soon see drone delivery become a popular method of on-demand deliveries, too.

  1. Scheduled/Routed Delivery

A lot of couriers offer routed or scheduled delivery services for convenience and reliability. You can think of this as a paper route that many publications use to distribute their newspapers.

Only it doesn’t have to be newspapers that are being delivered. It could be anything.

This is a good option if you have a massive amount of subscribers that you need to deliver to on a regular basis. Instead of fulfilling these orders one-at-a-time, add them to an existing courier route.

Alternatively, you can think of this service like a bus you can catch. But instead of transporting people from stop-to-stop, it’s transporting orders.

  1. On-Board Couriers

After 9/11, airport security became more strict and on-board couriers less popular. However, it is still possible to find a courier service who will make deliveries this way.

An on-board courier books a flight, usually on a commercial airliner, to hand-deliver orders to any location. This method ensures that the order never leaves the courier’s sight.

You may notice, this method is similar to rush delivery but over longer distances. It won’t necessarily get the order delivered in 4 hours. But it is one of the fastest and most secure ways to transport long-distance orders.

  1. International Couriers

International couriers are always the best choice when shipping any item internationally. This is due to governmental jurisdiction restrictions.

You see, our postal service can only deliver items to the customs department of another country. After that, the destination country’s postal service handles the delivery.

But private couriers have no jurisdiction. They handle the entire delivery from start to finish, as long as they operate in both countries. This is a far more secure and reliable way to ship internationally.

Types of Courier Services: What They Ship

Now, let’s talk about what types of things couriers can ship. Basically, they can deliver anything that’s not considered illegal in the destination location. However, aside from normal parcel delivery, these deliveries are considered a special service.

  1. Parcel Delivery

Delivering parcels and packages is the standard service that most couriers provide. However, some specialized couriers only perform their special services and won’t make normal deliveries. Being so common, this service is the most competitive and, therefore, the cheapest you can find.

  1. Freight Delivery

Delivery of large or abnormally-shaped orders is considered a special service. This includes large freight orders, like those being sent from a distribution center to a store.

same day Courier service

Sending large amounts of these massive orders is also very common. So, the rates for these services are competitive, too. However, for individual orders that are larger than those you normally order, you might consider this service expensive.

  1. Luggage Delivery

Airport baggage handlers are infamous for not being careful. We’ve all heard how often people complain about the airport damaging their luggage in transport.

The bizarre thing is, there’s a better way to transport luggage that most travelers completely overlook. Namely, you can hire a luggage delivery courier who will take extra-special care of your baggage and its contents.

This also ensures that your luggage won’t be delayed for several days, as sometimes happens at airports. Couriers are much more reliable at sticking to deadlines.

Furthermore, this service isn’t exclusive to air travelers. Perhaps you just have more bags than will fit in your car. Rather than renting a van, you can hire a luggage transport courier.

  1. Perishables

Refrigerated trucks allow you to transport items that need to remain at a certain temperature. The most common examples of this are floral and food deliveries.

But this service is helpful for medical delivery needs as well. For instance, certain medicines and bodily fluids must remain at a certain temperature and sometimes must be transported/delivered.

And, besides cold deliveries, couriers can deliver hot food as well. They do this by keeping the orders insulated and delivering them fast.

  1. Hazardous Materials

There are some couriers who are specifically licensed to handle the delivery of certain hazardous materials, like volatile chemicals. This doesn’t only entail transporting toxic waste to a place where it can be safely disposed of. Another common example is the transport of liquid nitrogen, which is used by many businesses for a lot of different reasons.

However, there are other, less dangerous materials that are simply too hazardous to transport by normal means. These are the items listed as restricted/prohibited at your local post office. But what the post office won’t deliver, many couriers will.

  1. Medical Equipment and Supplies

Medical equipment and supplies might also be deemed hazardous to transport. Those who specialize in medical deliveries will have the equipment to do so safely and quickly. They might even include staff with some amount of medical training.

  1. Mission-Critical Equipment and Parts

Mission-critical equipment is not something that all delivery services are qualified to handle. Choose a specialized courier to get it there on-time and unmolested.

  1. Legal Documents

Legal documents are too sensitive to risk losing them in the mail. It’s better to find a trustworthy courier who will deliver them by hand.

Additional Services Provided By Couriers

Lastly, here are a few extra services a courier might provide. Don’t assume a courier will provide these. Always check first.

  1. Distribution, Warehousing, and Fulfillment

Many couriers offer varying levels of logistical services. Some can provide you with, basically, warehouse space for rent. They might also manage this warehouse for you and handle the distribution of these goods to your clients.

  1. Insurance

Most couriers offer some amount of reimbursement for damaged/lost items or anything else that might go wrong with the delivery. The specific items that are covered and the amount of reimbursement vary greatly between couriers.

Which Types of Courier Services Do You Need?

Do you need same-day delivery services, medical courier services, warehousing, or distribution? We at GO₂ Delivery & Logistics do all this and more. Call the number at the top or click this link to get a quote for the courier services you need.


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