A courier service typically refers to a local service that has a very limited delivery range, or it may refer to a last-minute delivery service for packages that need to get somewhere quickly, often called hot shot deliveries. Hiring a courier service is not like hiring a regular delivery service as you may only need them on occasion. You may also pay more for their service since they have a limited delivery area or need to be available at a moment's notice. Note a few important questions to ask when hiring a courier service so the process goes as smoothly as possible for you.

1. Always ask if they can handle your type of package

Unless you're sending something very generic such as a box of books to a recipient, you want to note if they can handle your type of package. If you're sending medical supplies or anything perishable, you need to ensure they have the right delivery van for this material and won't simply put it on the back of a motorcycle. Some courier services also only handle envelopes and smaller packages such as these and not large boxes. Have the type of package, its size and weight ready when you call so you know they can easily manage it.

2. Note how packages can be tracked

Even a simple bicycle messenger service should give you some type of method for tracking packages online, as they can easily install an app or program on their smartphone or tablet that receives a signature from a recipient and uploads it to their website. Many courier services offer real-time tracking which can also ensure you that your package is en route. Whatever the option, be sure you ask about it so you know you get some type of receipt for your package being delivered.

3. Ask if they have waiting or delayed shipment fees

If your courier should arrive to pick up a package and you don't have it ready yet, or your recipient is not at their destination, you need to note if they have waiting or delayed shipment fees. Many standard shippers will simply pick up the boxes you leave out and then also leave them when the recipient is not available, but a courier service may not be able to do that. They may then charge you for waiting or for any delays, so be sure you know these fees in advance and can plan accordingly.