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Motorcycle Despatch Rider Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Motorcycle Despatch Rider. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Motorcycle Despatch Rider
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Motorcycle Despatch Rider Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Despatch riders, sometimes known as couriers, transport items quickly by motorcycle. Items can include packages, letters, legal documents or messages.

Typically, a depot controller will be in radio contact with the despatch rider/courier giving details of where and when to collect the package, and the destination address. Despatch riders sign for the package on collection, and get an appropriate person to sign for it upon delivery.

Most of the trips will be short journeys in a built-up area of a major city. Occasionally there may be longer journeys. Riders rarely return to base. They will normally be in contact with the depot controller by two-way radio, pager, mobile phone or roadside telephone.

Despatch riders/couriers are responsible for keeping their motorcycle roadworthy.

Hours and Environment:

Despatch riders normally work a 40-50 hour week. Hours are normally between 9am to 6pm, but early starts and late finishes may be required. Some courier firms provide a 24-hour service, which would involve working at night.

On average, a London despatch rider does 10-20 separate collection/delivery jobs a day, covering about 100 miles.

Despatch riders/couriers work in all weathers. They also have to cope with exhaust fumes and noise from other vehicles. Safety clothing such as a helmet, leathers, gloves and boots are always worn.

Skills and Interests:

As a motorcycle despatch rider, you should:

  • enjoy motorcycling and be a skilled rider
  • be physically fit
  • be reliable and punctual
  • be able to work on your own
  • have good literacy and numeracy skills for delivery and expenses records
  • have the ability to read and follow maps and guides, plan and learn routes
  • have a mature attitude
  • be friendly and presentable.

A basic knowledge of motorcycle maintenance is useful.


No academic qualifications are required to become a despatch rider.

New entrants must be at least 17. However, employers may prefer those over 21, due to high insurance rates for younger dispatch riders.

A full motorcycle licence, courier insurance, road tax and MOT certificate (if appropriate) are essential to work as a despatch rider. However, it may be possible to enter training with a provisional driving licence.

You should be in good health and have good eyesight.

Normally you need to have your own motorcycle (at least 200 cc) with a carrier or top box.

Appropriate safety clothing and a helmet are normally needed. Your employer may provide a bib or fluorescent jacket. Some employers provide bags and motorcycle top box units.


You can work towards an NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Transporting Goods by Road.

For information on the NVQ/SVQ, contact Skills for Logistics.


There are around 20,000 motorcycle despatch riders working throughout the UK. Most opportunities are in major cities.

Despatch riders/couriers can be employed, earning a fixed salary, or work on a self-employed basis as a freelance rider.

Some despatch riders become controllers or start their own courier firms.

Annual Income:

The annual income section is intended as a guideline only.

In large cities earnings can be around £10,000 to £15,600. In London, earnings can start at around £18,200 with experienced riders earning up to £26,000.

Many companies offer bonuses or guarantees for full attendance and/or covering a certain amount of work.

Further information:

Skills for Logistics*
14 Warren Yard
Warren Farm Office Village
Stratford Road
Milton Keynes
MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360

Despatch Association
The Limes
2 Stow Road
King's Lynn
PE34 3BT
Tel: 01553 813479

National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some are continuing to operate in their respective fields. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills is licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

Other Useful Motorcycle Despatch Rider Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Motorcycle Despatch Rider job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Motorcycle Despatch Rider Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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