Unless the company you do courier work for operates ”self-billing” (ie they produce your invoice for you and send it to you with your money) you’ll need a simple way of invoicing for the work you do.
You can start with a simple invoice book from a stationer, or just use MS Word or Excel (Google for invoice templates to use), or use a simple online invoicing system as provided by websites like www.mtvan.com. [Note: Tony’s Guide is mtvan’s sister website, so we’re bound to reccommend it!].
When choosing an invoicing system, the simpler the better. What you want is something simple, cheap and effective.
Invoice promptly, as this means you’ll get your money more quickly, and don’t be afraid to call to remind that payment is due. Payment terms should be shown on the invoice. They should be the same terms you agreed when taking on the work.
You should find yourself a local accountant, and take advice at the outset. This advice should cover all financial, tax, and legal aspects of your plan to become an owner-driver courier.
Ask your accountant about becoming VAT registered. Most owner-drivers choose not to, as it’s a lot of hassle, and to start with you won’t have to. If you decide to later, you can get some of the VAT back that you have already paid out.
Your accountant may recommend that you set up in business as a sole trader, but there may be sound tax reasons for setting up a company. Setting up a company also means that you protect yourself from some financial risks. Definitely something to get professional advice about.
Your accountant will also advise you about the basic record keeping you’ll need to do. You should also seek his/her professional advice on the basics of invoicing and of “self billing”, as it’s an arrangement favoured by established courier companies.
You should also ask for advice about the rules governing your “self employed” status.
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