Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Freight Business in the United Kingdom

Starting a Freight Business in the United Kingdom Modern society has its fair share of transformation due to the transportation of goods across the World, thanks to the freight network. This means if you’re planning on starting a freight business in the United Kingdom, then you’ll join the vast network. The freight network is broad so that companies that are not big enough to own vehicles can rely on third parties. The coordination is spread across the different modes of transportation (rail, sea & air) to ensure a smooth transition. In Britain alone, freight forwarding is ready to contribute approximately 21.7 billion pounds to the economy in the current year.

Here’s a guide on starting a freight business in the United Kingdom.


Industry Practice

Freight business is one of the lucrative and competitive ventures in the UK. With market leaders such as DHL Supply Chain, this is a business that one must think through before starting. However, it doesn’t mean that if you’re a beginner, you should get jittery. To succeed in this business, you must have the desire, persistence, and organizational skills. Your main target customers should have a high-level shipping experience.

Now starting a freight business in the United Kingdom can be easier for you if you understand more about the business.

Type of Freight Business

We have two main types of freight and trucking businesses that one can venture into as an entrepreneur.

  • Freight Forwarding
    This is the type of business where you take freight from clients looking to transport shipment and hold it in their own warehouse. Then, as a business owner, you organize how the cargo will reach its destination by searching for the appropriate carriers. In certain circumstances, you might as well deliver the freight using a trucker.
  • Freight Brokerage
    For this type of business, you act as the middleman in the hauling and shipping process through specialist knowledge to connect clients with their freights. In return, you get a commission from the deal between the client and the carrier. Besides, you can decide to carry all the shipping that clients may require, but it shall be expensive. This is because you’ll need to purchase or rent a fleet of vehicles and employ your own drivers for transportation.

Now, as an aspiring corporate service provider in the UK, you must remember that finding carriers for both will often require more research for available options to choose from. Getting suitable carriers may be a daunting task, but it becomes easy when you’ve established yourself in the industry.


Business Registration Process

When it comes to starting a freight business in the United Kingdom, one thing that comes into mind is the cost implications. But, besides the costs, choosing a niche within this saturated business may give you some food for thought.

Let’s look at what it takes to start and have a freight business in the UK as a beginner.

Choosing a Niche

To have the proper footing towards this business, ensure you establish which freight business niche that’ll suit you. Choosing a niche will help you stand against the competition and learn more about the selected sector. For instance, a manufacturing company specializing in car spare parts will feel more comfortable engaging a freight business specializing in the same. Then, as your business grows, you can continuously diversify in other niches.

Developing a Detailed Business Plan

A business plan will act as the foundation of your business. Your business plan should include your financial forecast, operations, marketing strategy, executive summary, and the vision of your business idea. This document will potentially help you acquire capital from financiers if need be and build that trust. Ensure that you outline the entire layout categorically to make it more presentable.

Startup Costs

There’s no doubt that the freight forwarding business is an expensive option. If you want to save on cost, you can opt to hire an office by operating your shipment logistics from home. However, this will mean you’ll have several high costs, including:

  • A minimum of one vehicle—ideally a truck to collect shipments from clients.
  • A driver, if you decide to collect shipment by yourself
  • A warehouse to handle the freight
  • Packing materials.

Again, it would be great if you invest in vehicle tracking software to keep on top of where your shipments are at all times.

The freight brokerage is reasonably affordable compared with freight forwarding. As a beginner, you can start with just your email address and a reliable mobile phone. Next, ensure you invest in a website where you’ll include all the details of the services you’re offering.

Freight Management Software

This is essential software for you to be able to monitor your freight on transit. Some of the benefits of freight management software include the following:

  • Contacts and inventory management
  • Boost control or visibility of supply chains
  • Added accurate lead times and delivery time predictions
  • Further detailed insight into your financial matters.


Insurance and Regulations

When starting a freight business in the United Kingdom, you do not require any formal qualifications to get started. However, having prior experience in the freight industry is an added advantage. So again, it’s a noble idea to seek training from organizations such as The British International Freight Association or other institutions.

Having the right insurance, such as public liability insurance or professional indemnity insurance, and product liability insurance is essential. Again, it would help if you strived to get a specialist freight insurance policy that consists of cargo insurance, logistics liability coverage, and surety bonds.

Registering Your Freight Business

The Company Act in the UK governs the United Kingdom company incorporation. This means every legal entity must be registered with the Companies House to operate within the UK. Therefore, you must first start with company registration in the UK to operate. You must also ascertain whether you require registering for VAT. Consequently, you’ll always want to research the duties and measures affecting importing and exporting freight. Additionally, getting an understanding of the standards for transporting freight and the international trade documentation is essential.

You must also ensure that your warehouse or storage facility meets the health hazards safety legislation.

Securing Clients

Starting a freight business in the United Kingdom may sound lucrative, but you have the task of getting clients as a beginner. One of the critical aspects is being motivated and having a strategy for finding potential customers. You can try several options of finding clients, including the following:

  • Browsing Google for local product businesses and manufacturers.
  • Referring back to your existing customers about other people within this industry.
  • Catching up on website leads. You can always see if you can capture leads from your website by asking visitors to leave their contact details.
  • Using apps such as Uber Freight, uShip, and Convoy
  • Making use of the freight exchange.


Licenses, Permits, and Regulations

The freight business in the UK is under rules and regulations that one must adhere to before operating. Therefore, when starting a freight business in the United Kingdom, you need to understand these regulations.

Operator License

This is a legal authority that your business requires to operate a food vehicle in the UK. The Traffic Commissioner is the authority responsible for issuing this license. If you’re using vehicles above 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight when carrying goods, you need an operator’s license.

We have different types of operator’s licenses.

  • A restricted license allows the carriage of goods, but only on own account, within the UK and abroad.
  • Standard license: it permits the carriage of goods for hire or reward in the UK


When operating within this industry, your business will be affected by these two legal categories. Domestic law governs all the companies and employers and the international trade law and local regulations. Each business within this industry must take insurance against staff accidents and injuries and display a copy of the certificate of insurance.

Airfreight Industry Regulations

A company can import and export goods to and from the UK without a license. However, specific goods are restricted, and therefore, you must be conversant with the industry regulations. For example, if you intend to airlift dangerous goods by air, you must ensure that the goods are well labeled and certified. In addition, they must comply with the International Air Transport Association Dangerous Goods Regulations. Sensitive products such as drugs, armaments, products emanating from endangered animal species, and high-tech computer products need a license. Again, it would help if you took cognizance of the Export Control Joint Unit with the freight industry. If you’d want to get more assistance concerning the freight business, you can contact 3E Accounting.

Starting a Freight Business in the United Kingdom