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A courier delivers messages, packages, and mail. Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail services by features such as speed, security, tracking, signature, specialization and individualization of express services, and swift delivery times, which are optional for most everyday mail services. As a premium service, couriers are usually more expensive than usual mail services, and their use is typically restricted to packages where one or more of these features are considered important enough to warrant the cost. Courier services operate on all scales, from within specific towns or cities, to regional, national and global services. Large courier companies include DHL, FedEx, EMS International, TNT, UPS, and Aramex. These offer services worldwide, typically via a hub and spoke model.

Couriers before the industrial era

Courier or postman, Japan, hand-coloured albumen print by Felice Beato, between 1863 and 1877

Military courier In ancient history runners and homing pigeons and riders on horseback were used to deliver timely messages. Before there were mechanized courier services foot messengers physically ran miles to their destinations. To this day there are marathons directly related to actual historical messenger routes. In the middle Ages, royal courts maintained their own messengers who were paid little more than common labourers.

Types of couriers
In cities, there are often bicycle couriers or motorcycle couriers but for consignments requiring delivery over greater distance networks, this may often include lorries, railways and aircraft. Many companies who operate under a Just-In-Time or "JIT" inventory method often utilise on-board couriers. On-board couriers are individuals who can travel at a moment's notice anywhere in the world, usually via commercial airlines. While this type of service is the second costliestgeneral aviation charters are far more expensivecompanies analyze the cost of service to engage an on-board courier versus the "cost" the company will realise should the product not arrive by a specified time (i.e. an assembly line stopping, untimely court filing, lost sales from product or components missing a delivery deadline, organ transplants).

Casual courier
A "casual courier" is an everyday traveler that informally delivers packages for shippers. The term describes an alternative delivery practice of sending items from one place to another via independent traveler. Casual couriers usually have existing travel plans before agreeing to deliver a package for a sender. Casual couriers may receive a fee directly from the shipper for delivering a package to its destination. The casual courier's fee is typically significantly lower than traditional overnight delivery services. Delivering packages for others is a common practice around the world, especially among close-knit ethnic communities. In the Philippines, for example, the Tagalog word "Pakidala" means "can you take a package for me?" Delivery costs can be substantially reduced by using a casual courier and for the courier, carrying a package may help to subsidize the cost of a trip.

Casual couriers vs. air couriers

A casual courier is very different from an air courier. Typically, air couriers work for traditional courier companies as employees and may receive discounted airline tickets. Air couriers are very limited when it comes to dates of travel, destination, trip duration and baggage. In contrast, casual couriers are completely independent travelers. They purchase their own transportation to the destination of their choosing and are not limited by their casual deliveries. Furthermore, if a casual courier is not invited to deliver a package, then they travel anyway, as previously planned. Unlike air courier delivery, casual couriers are not restricted to only air travelthey deliver packages around the corner or around the globe, by air, sea, or land.

"Fed Express" redirects here. For the tennis player with this nickname, see Roger Federer. FedEx Corporation, originally known as FDX Corporation, is an American global courier delivery services company headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. The name "FedEx" is a syllabic abbreviation of the name of the company's original air division, Federal Express, which was used from 1973 until 2000.

FedEx Corporation is a Delaware corporation, incorporated October 2, 1997. FDX Corporation was founded in January 1998 with the acquisition of Caliber System Inc. by Federal Express. With the purchase of Caliber, FedEx started offering other services besides express shipping. Caliber subsidiaries included RPS, a small-package ground service; Roberts Express, an expedited shipping provider; Viking Freight, a regional, less than truckload freight carrier serving the Western United States; Caribbean Transportation Services, a provider of airfreight forwarding between the United States and the Caribbean; and Caliber Logistics and Caliber Technology, providers of logistics and technology solutions. FDX Corporation was founded to oversee all of the operations of those companies and its original air division, Federal Express. In the 1980s, FedEx planned, but later abandoned, a joint service with British Airways to have BA fly a Concorde to Shannon, Ireland with FedEx packages onboard and then FedEx would have flown the packages subsonically to their delivery points in Europe. Ron Ponder, a vice president at the time, was in charge of this proposed venture. In January 2000, FDX Corporation changed its name to FedEx Corporation and re-branded all of its subsidiaries. Federal Express became FedEx Express, RPS became FedEx Ground, Roberts Express became FedEx Custom Critical, and Caliber Logistics and Caliber Technology were combined to make up FedEx Global Logistics. A new subsidiary called FedEx Corporate Services was formed to centralize the sales, marketing, and customer service for all of the subsidiaries. In February 2000, FedEx acquired Tower Group International, an international logistics company. FedEx also acquired WorldTariff, a customs duty and tax information company, TowerGroup and WorldTariff were re-branded to form FedEx Trade Networks. FedEx Corp. acquired privately held Kinko's Inc. in February 2004 and rebranded it FedEx Kinko's. The acquisition was made to expand FedEx retail access to the general public. After the acquisition, all FedEx Kinko's locations exclusively offered only FedEx shipping.[4] In June 2008, FedEx announced that they would be dropping the Kinko's name from their ship centers, with FedEx Kinko's changing to FedEx Office. In September 2004, FedEx acquired Parcel Direct, a parcel consolidator, and re-branded it FedEx SmartPost. In December 2007, the Internal Revenue Service of the United States 'tentatively decided' that FedEx Ground Division might be facing a tax liability of $319 million for 2002, due to

misclassification of its operatives as independent contractors. Reversing a 1994 decision which allowed FedEx

FedEx Express (Orange "Ex"): The original overnight courier services, providing next day air service within the United States and time-definite international service. FedEx Express operates one of the largest civil aircraft fleets in the world and the largest fleet of wide bodied civil aircraft; it also carries more freight than any other airline.[14] o Caribbean Transport Services: Until 2008, a part of FedEx Freight. Provides airfreight forwarding services between the US mainland, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean islands. FedEx Ground (Green "Ex"): Guaranteed day-definite delivery within Canada and the United States at a cost savings as compared to time-definite FedEx Express. Uses a large fleet of trucks which are owned by the independent owner/operators and drivers are independent contractors who control individual delivery routes and territories. Formerly Roadway Package System (RPS).[15] o FedEx Home Delivery: A division of FedEx Ground, specializing in residential delivery Tuesday through Saturday and offers delivery options to provide more flexibility for residential recipients. The logo includes a drawing of a dog carrying a package . FedEx Home Delivery only operates in the United States. To make up the difference, FedEx Ground in Canada performs the business deliveries and residential deliveries.[16] FedEx SmartPost (Grey "Ex"): Consolidates parcels from merchants such as ecommerce and catalog companies and uses the United States Postal Service for the final delivery. Formerly the independent company Parcel Direct until FedEx acquired them for $120M in 2004.[17] FedEx Freight (Red "Ex"): Less than truckload (LTL) and other freight services. The second largest LTL carrier in the United States, with $4.5 billion in revenue for 2008.[18] o FedEx Freight, Inc: Formerly American Freightways, Viking Freight, and Watkins Motor Lines. o FedEx Freight Canada: Formerly Watkins Canada Express. o FedEx Custom Critical: Delivers urgent, valuable, or hazardous items using trucks and chartered aircraft. Freight not accepted for transport includes perishable food, alcohol, livestock, household goods, hazardous waste and money.[19] Drivers are independent contractors who own their vehicles. Service in Mexico uses interline carriers. Formerly Roberts Cartage or Roberts Express. FedEx Trade Networks (Yellow "Ex"): Provides services relating to customs, insurance, and transportation advice. Formerly C.J. Tower & Sons, then Tower Group International. FedEx Supply Chain Services (Grey "Ex"): Provides logistics services including Critical Inventory Logistics, Transportation Management Services, Fulfillment Services, etc. Formerly Roadway Logistics System, then Caliber Logistics. FedEx Corporate Services (Grey "Ex"): Provides global marketing, planning and information technology (IT) services for the other FedEx operating companies. FedEx TechConnect: Offering a customer service toll-free telephone line for customer questions. It is operated by an automated operator then will prompt the user to a live agent for uses of tracking, claims, scheduling pick-ups (Express, Ground, Same Day, Custom Critical, Freight Express, and Freight LTL), compliments and

complaints, locations (both staffed counter locations and drop-boxes), ordering supplies, setting up FedEx accounts, billing etc. Formerly FCIS or FedEx Customer Information Services.


Bicycle messenger boys, Salt Lake City, 1912 Almost immediately after the development of the pedal-driven velocipede in the 1860s, people began to use the bicycle for delivery purposes. David V. Herlihy's 2004 book on the early history of the bicycle contains several references to bicycle messengers working during the late 19th century, including a description of couriers employed by the Paris stock exchange in the 1870s.[1] During the bicycle boom of the 1890s in the United States, Western Union employed a number of bicycle telegraph boys in New York City, San Francisco, and other large population centers. One of the earliest recorded post-war American bicycle courier companies was founded by Carl Sparks, in San Francisco, in 1945. According to the San Francisco Bicycle Messenger Association, "Sparkie's went on to become Aero, which was bought out in 1998 [and] later absorbed into CitySprint."[2] By the late 1970s, there were well-established companies offering bicycle messenger services in many major cities in the U.S. In Europe, the bicycle had fallen out of favour as a means of delivery in the third quarter of the 20th century. It was not until 1983 that bicycle messengers made their reappearance in Europe. London's "On Yer Bike" and "Pedal-Pushers" were pioneers of pedal over petrol, and the rest of the city's courier companies followed suit. By the late 1980s, cycle couriers were a common sight in central London and a British manufacturer named a range of mountainbikes for them, the Muddy Fox 'Courier'.[3] Entrepreneurs in continental Europe, some inspired by seeing couriers in the U.S. or in London, began to offer bicycle courier services in the late 1980s, and by 1993 there were sufficiently large numbers of bicycle couriers in Northern Europe and North America that over 400 attended the inaugural Cycle Messenger Championships in Berlin, Germany.[4] Bicycle messengers have not become common in southern Europe, the heartland of world competitive cycling. There are very few bicycle couriers in Portugal, France, Spain, or Italy. Outside Europe and North America, there are now large bicycle messenger services in Japan, and also in New Zealand and Australia. More recently, several companies started offering bike messenger services in Central and South America, specifically in Mxico City, Mxico; San Jos, Costa Rica; Bogot, Colombia;

Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile

Demand for courier services

Messengers carry a huge variety of items, from things that could not be sent by digital means (corporate gifts, original artwork, clothes for photo-shoots, original signed documents) to mundane items that could easily be emailed, albeit without the air of importance attached to an express courier delivery. Messengers deliver digital content on optical media or hard disks because, despite high speed broadband connections, companies find it easier to send a disc than to work out how to transmit larger amounts of data than an email account can handle.[5][6] Legal documents, various financial instruments and sensitive information are routinely sent by courier, reflecting a distrust of digital cryptography. Commentators have claimed that technological innovation will significantly reduce the demand for same-day parcel delivery,[8][9] predicting that the fax machine, and then the internet, would render the messenger business obsolete. There is still a demand for fast courier services[10] but there is certainly some truth in the predictions. Reliable data specifically relating to bicycle messenger occupational statistics is hard to find: the U.S. Department of Labor statistics does not track bicycle messengers specifically, and does not include "independent contractors" in statistics referenced for this industry occupation,[11] but reports indicate the business is shrinking. The gradual acceptance of electronic filing by U.S. courts has had a negative effect on the market. In San Francisco, bike messengers report a smaller work force coupled with decreased earnings.[12] In New York alone, the number of messengers has been estimated to have dropped by a thousand over the last decade.[13]

Working conditions
The conditions of employment of bicycle messengers vary from country to country, city to city and even company to company. Contracts governing the relationship between individual courier and company are subject as much to customary practice, as local ordinance. In some places messengers are independent contractors paid on commission and do not receive benefits such as health insurance. In other places they will be regular employees of the courier company enjoying all the benefits thereof. The employment status of the bicycle messengers of one of the UK's biggest same-day courier services, CitySprint, was challenged by the GMB trade union in December 2007. The challenge arose after the firm terminated the contract of one of its riders. The GMB sought to establish that more than 1,500 CitySprint operatives currently classified as self-employed sub-contractors should be re-classified as employees. Recent US legislation has sought to force companies to reclassify workers that they declare as independent contractors, as employees, with all the benefits thereof. Companies claim costs will rise as a direct result.[16] The job is poorly paid relative to the risk and effort required. In 2002, a Harvard Medical School study of injury rates amongst Boston bicycle messengers determined that the rate of injury requiring time off work amongst the sample group was more than 13 times the U.S. average, and more than three times higher than the next highest group, workers in the meatpacking industry. Bike messengers have been killed while working in the United States. Eight

bicycle messengers are known to have been killed while working in London between 1989 and 2003. Because payment is made at piece rates, it is hard to get reliable figures for messenger income. A study published in 2006 stated that the average daily wage of London bicycle messengers was 65 a day, and that of bicycle messenger in Cardiff was 45. The UK legal minimum wage at that time was 5.52 an hour.

The most essential piece of equipment for a bicycle messenger is a bicycle. The majority of messengers use a bag to carry deliveries and personal effects. Bags with a single strap that wraps diagonally across the chest (popularly known as messenger bag) are popular because they can be swung around the messenger's body to allow access without removing the bag. Clasps which can be adjusted with one hand (ideal for riding), clips, pockets and webbing loops on the strap for holding a cell phone or two-way radio and other equipment also feature on purpose-built messenger bags. Bags generally have large capacities (up to 50 liters or 3,000 cubic inches). Baskets and racks mounted on the bike are also used, and at least one messenger service (in New York City) equips its riders with specialized three-wheel cycles (sometimes known as cargo-trikes), with a large trunk in the rear. Many bicycle messengers also wear helmets and mount lights and fenders to their bicycles. Because bicycle thefts are prevalent in many cities, a lock to secure the bike during deliveries is essential. Simple chain and padlocks are often used, with the locked chain worn around the waist like a belt while riding. U-locks are also popular. Messengers typically carry basic tools, weather-proof clothing and a street map.

Messengers communicate and are dispatched to assignments via hand-held communication devices including two-way radios, cell phones, and personal digital assistants. Many of the larger messenger services equip their riders with GPS tracking devices,[28] for ease of location.

Messenger culture and influence

Messengers have been used in fiction media as symbols of urban living, and have been the subject of novels, memoirs,[30] feature films,[31] television series,[32] comic-books,[33] and sociological studies.[34] Mexican artist Jos Guadalupe Posada created a popular icon of a marijuana-smoking bicycle courier everyman in his 19th-century engravings. The 1986 film Quicksilver featuring a bicycle messenger, is an early expression of the mythology of the messenger as daredevil stunt rider.[35] Star Kevin Bacon rides a racing bike, a fixed gear bike and a trick bike with 1:1 gear ratio and zero-rake forks, to perform the stunts in the film. The 20002002 television series Dark Angel had the main character Max Guevara, played by Jessica Alba, as a bicycle messenger at a courier service named Jam

Pony. The show took place in a post-apocalyptic Seattle where motorized transportation was costly and therefore couriers were more prevalent and bicycle messengers were seen as a prominent position. The 2012 film Premium Rush, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is also set in the world of bike messengers. News media have made portrayals of messengers ranging from innocuous urban libertines to reckless, cliquish nihilists. The latter portrayal is often sparked by local incidents involving bike messengers in collisions with other road-users or run-ins with authority figures.[36] These incidents also occasionally lead to proposals for, and dispute over, new ordinances and regulations on messengers and messengering.[37][38]

The influence of bicycle messengers can be seen in urban fashion, most notably the popularity of single-strap messenger bags, which are a common accessory among people who do not ride a bicycle regularly. The rise in popularity of fixed-gear bicycles in the mid-2000s, complete with affectations such as spoke cards (gathered from "alleycats" typically), is attributed to bicycle messengers.[39]

Since 1993, Cycle Messenger Championships have taken place at national, continental and world levels.[40] These events are held as much for fun and messenger networking as for competition. Bicycle messengers also take part in formal cycle competitions at all levels, and in all disciplines. Nelson Vails, silver medalist on the velodrome in the 1984 Olympics, worked as a bicycle messenger in New York City in the early 1980s. Ivonne Kraft, who competed in the 2004 Olympic cross country mountain bike race, is a multiple former Cycle Messenger World Champion, and worked as a bicycle messenger in Germany for a number of years.

Diplomatic courier
A diplomatic courier is an official who transports diplomatic bags as sanctioned under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Couriers are granted diplomatic immunity and are thereby protected by the receiving state from arrest and detention when performing their work. Couriers may be assigned on an ad hoc basis, but in those cases they are released from immunity once their bags have been delivered. All couriers are provided documentation that reports their status as couriers and the number of packages currently being transported in the diplomatic bag. Diplomatic bags may be transported under the authority of commercial airline captains, but they are not diplomatic couriers. Diplomatic Courier is also the name of a 1952 espionage film starring Tyrone Power and Patricia Neal,[1] as well as the foreign affairs magazine, The Diplomatic Courier.

United Kingdom
Diplomatic bags of the United Kingdom are carried by the Queen's Messengers, who work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and by Postal and Courier Operators of the Royal Logistic Corps.

United States
The United States Department of State lists "Foreign Service Diplomatic Courier" as one of its careers with a starting salary at Foreign Service grade FP-6.[2] Couriers are trained for roughly twelve to fourteen weeks in Washington, D.C., and during their careers may be assigned to one of several U.S. diplomatic courier offices around the world, including Dakar, Senegal;, Sydney, Australia; Bangkok, Thailand; Frankfurt, Germany; Manama, Bahrain; Pretoria, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; Washington, D.C.; So Paulo, Brazil and Miami, Florida.

DHL Express
"DHL" redirects here. For other Deutsche Post divisions and business units using the DHL brand, see Deutsche Post. For the honorary degree, see Doctor of Humane Letters. DHL Express is a division of the German logistics company Deutsche Post providing international express mail services. Deutsche Post is the world's largest logistics company operating around the world.[2] DHL is a world market leader in sea and air mail.[3][4] Originally founded in 1969 to deliver documents between San Francisco and Honolulu, the company expanded its service throughout the world by the late 1970s. The company was primarily interested in offshore and inter-continental deliveries, but the success of FedEx prompted their own intra-U.S. expansion starting in 1983. DHL aggressively expanded to countries that could not be served by any other delivery service, including the Soviet Union, Eastern Bloc, Iraq, Iran, China, Vietnam and North Korea. In 1998, Deutsche Post began to acquire shares in DHL. It finally reached majority ownership in 2001, and completed the purchase in 2002. Deutsche Post then effectively absorbed DHL into its Express division, while expanding the use of the DHL brand to other Deutsche Post divisions, business units and subsidiaries. Today, DHL Express shares its well-known DHL brand with other Deutsche Post business units, such as DHL Global Forwarding and DHL Supply Chain. The DHL Express Service has ceased domestic operations in the United States of America, as of February 2009.[5]



Larry Hillblom was studying law at University of California, Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law and had little money. He started running courier duty between San Francisco and Los Angeles, picking up packages for the last flight of the day, and returning on the first flight the next morning, up to five times a week. When he graduated, Hillblom decided to go into the courier business himself. He found a niche that no other company was filling, offering to fly bills of lading from San Francisco to Honolulu. By flying the documents ahead of the freight they could be processed prior to vessel arrival and save valuable time after arrival. Hillblom put up a portion of his student loans to start the company, bringing in his two friends Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn as partners, with their combined initials as the company name. All three shared a Plymouth Duster that they drove around San Francisco to pick up the documents in suitcases, then rushed to the airport to book flights using another relatively new invention, the corporate credit card. As the business took off, they started hiring new couriers to join the company. Their first hires were Max and Blanche Kroll, whose apartment in Hawaii often became a makeshift flophouse for their couriers. The company started expanding their service through the early 1970s, first to the Philippines, then Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. For lower-volume routes the company would hire couriers on a one-off basis, trading airline tickets for the delivery. This simple expedient would repeatedly save the company many legal hassles in the future, when wouldbe investigators would take them up on the open offer and make a delivery while taking their family on vacation. The first was when the FBI was tipped off about the groups of briefcasecarrying young men making repeated trips to Hawaii, and when they investigated and found nothing amiss, several agents became regular couriers for the company.[citation needed]

Domestic expansion
In the 1970s DHL was one of the only truly international delivery companies, and the only one offering overnight service. The only major competitor in the overnight market was Federal Express (FedEx), which didn't open its first international service until 1981, expanding to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Nevertheless, the domestic market was extremely profitable, and DHL was the third largest courier behind FedEx and the UPS. DHL turned their attention to the overnight market in the U.S., following the success of FedEx, and opened a major distribution hub in Cincinnati in 1983. However, DHL was never able to overcome FedEx's head start, capturing only 6% of the domestic market. In comparison, at the same time they were by far the largest international carrier, with 40% of that market. By the late 1980s the domestic operations were losing money, while the foreign operations continued to account for 2/3 of the company's income. A European hub opened in Brussels in 1985.[citation needed] DHL may also have been reluctant to invest in the U.S. market during the 1990s due to numerous lawsuits involving the company in the U.S. courts, instituted by South Pacific Islanders claiming paternity of children by Larry Hillblom, who

had died in an air crash over the Pacific Ocean, his body never recovered. These lawsuits persisted throughout the 90s and were only settled when DNA was, under pressure of the courts, obtained from the relatives of Mr. Hillblom.

DHL Express's global headquarters are part of the Deutsche Post headquarters in Bonn. Headquarters for the Americas are located in Plantation, Florida, USA, while its Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets headquarters are located in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The European hub is in Leipzig. Most of DHL Express' business is incorporated as DHL International GmbH. Major competitors include FedEx, UPS, TOLL, TNT and national post carriers such as United States Postal Service and Royal Mail. However, DHL has a minor partnership with the USPS, which allows DHL to deliver small packages to the recipient through the USPS network. It is also the sole provider for transferring USPS mail in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. DHL offers worldwide services, including deliveries to countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Burma. As it is German-owned, DHL is not affected by U.S. embargoes or sanctions and will ship to Cuba,[20] North Korea.[21] However there are strict codes for delivering to North Korea, as the country has shaky relations with the West.[21] As DHL is not a US company, it is not allowed to make domestic flights between U.S. airports. DHL contracts these services to other providers.[17]

Environmental record
Measures have been taken to physically control the amount of polluting by use of the alternative fuel examples. DHL changed vehicles in certain delivery fleets in accordance to their use of newer fuel ideas. The fuel was switched to compressed natural gas which they hope to accomplish with 50% of their vans.[22] On 16 September 2005 DHL won a High Court injunction establishing an exclusion zone around each of its 288 buildings in the UK as well as the homes of its 18,000 UK employees. The firm has been the subject of a campaign of intimidation because of their business with Huntingdon Life Sciences. The judge banned protesters from coming within 50 yards (46 m) of any DHL premises or the homes of their employees as well as any organized demonstration within 100 yards (91 m) unless the police had been given four hours' notice. The injunction also protects anyone doing business with DHL from intimidation.[23]