How can I set up my own logistics company

Setting up a transport company: 5 steps to your own freight forwarding company

Our roads can no longer be imagined without them - the numerous parcel service providers, forwarding agents and transport and logistics companies. No wonder - because online trading is booming. So why not your own Establish a transport company and cut off part of the cake?

However, the transport and logistics industry is highly competitive. You will find it difficult to assert yourself against the big players. However, there are also niches that you can successfully occupy. In addition to the consumer segment, there are numerous other areas in which you can offer your services. The prerequisite is a thorough analysis of the market and careful planning of your start-up: starting with the idea through implementation to daily business.

Economical meaning

Transport and logistics companies form one of the most important branches of industry in Germany. In addition to forwarding agents and deliverers, these companies include other companies in the fields of storage, handling and packaging. According to the Bundesvereinigung Logistik (BVL), in 2020 there were around 268 billion euros in sales earned. This means that performance has declined by six percent due to the effects of the corona pandemic, but growth of four percent is expected again for 2021. In a European comparison, Germany leads the way in terms of turnover in the logistics market. In total, the industry has around 60,000 companies with over three million employees. In Germany, in addition to large corporations such as Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Bahn, Dachser and Kuehne + Nagel, mainly medium-sized companies are active in the transport and logistics sector.

1. Set up a transport company: What services do you offer?

If you want to set up your own transport company, you are first faced with the question of which goods you want to transport, in which area you want to be active, whether you want to specialize in a certain service or offer your customers other services relating to transport and logistics. The possibilities are diverse - from courier services to parcel delivery to special transports. Are conceivable

  • national or international transport
  • Truck transport
  • Air freight
  • Ocean freight
  • Rail transport
  • General cargo transport
  • Bulk shipments
  • Container transport
  • Refrigerated transport
  • Furniture and moving company
  • Exhibition and event logistics
  • Transport of dangerous goods
  • Heavy and special transports
  • Express transport

A fundamental decision on which your next steps depend. It is decisive for which permits, vehicles, storage capacities or specialists you need to set up your own transport company.

How do you want to reach your target group?

Just as crucial is the question of which target group you want to address and how you want yours Customer acquisition and your Marketing strategy builds up. Your approach depends on whether you are addressing end users or companies, for example as a subcontractor. Regardless of the target group, make sure you have a balanced marketing mix. Use classic offline measures: depending on the area in which you want to work, regionally or nationally. But also use the possibilities of the Online marketing and social media: On the one hand, this allows you to do marketing at a comparatively low cost, and on the other hand, you can effectively reach your target group without major wastage through targeted SEO measures.

In addition, your vehicles are of course the perfect advertising space.

Your own fleet

Depending on which business model you choose, you need different ones vehicles. Starting with bicycles at a bicycle courier service or a cargo bike for smaller transports, it continues with vans of all sizes, different types of trucks and special vehicles for refrigerated, heavy or dangerous goods transport. Here you have to pay high costs in the purchase, which you can keep low by buying used vehicles decide. To reduce the risk of downtime and hassle, it is advisable to look for reputable dealers who can provide you with a proper, tax-deductible invoice, warranty, and service.

In addition, make yourself familiar in advance whether you have a special one for certain vehicles Driver's license or you need training and whether there are any special features to consider when registering, insurance and liability.

Own staff for your transport company

The larger your fleet, the less you can run your business without employees. In addition to drivers, you may need employees for your warehouse, accounting, customer service and fleet management.

Establishing a forwarding agency: the right location

Again, the type of your business model is crucial. If you are planning a small courier service, a central location is an advantage. If you are planning to set up a transport company with your own fleet of vans and trucks, you need a larger site, preferably in an industrial area that has storage space in addition to the floor space. In this case, make sure that a suitable workshop or van rental company is nearby. In this way, you can carry out jobs with rental vehicles in the event that your own vehicles fail.

2. Admission to the occupation of road transport operator

In principle, anyone in Germany can set up their own transport company. In general, it is a commercial activity, specifically a foundation in the road haulage industry. That means, you have to register a business in any case. In addition, you need a permit or a community license to operate commercial road haulage as an entrepreneur with vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of over 3.5 tons including trailers. A traffic manager must also be appointed.

  • The permission entitles you to national road haulage (local, long-distance and moving traffic)
  • The Community license entitles you to cross-border road haulage with states of the European Union (EU) and the states of the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • For traffic with the states of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT for short; French Conference Européenne des Ministres des Transports, CEMT for short) you need the CEMT approval. You can obtain this from the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG).

You will receive the application from the responsible traffic authority of the city or district administration. The prerequisite for obtaining a permit or a community license is that your company is based in one of the member states. You also have to have your personal reliability provide evidence by means of a certificate of good conduct, excerpts from the central traffic register and the central trade register. If you have already been self-employed, you will also need proof from the tax office, your health insurance company and the responsible trade association. In addition, you have to prove that you have sufficient financial resources available to finance your business and that you have the required professional qualifications owns. The general requirement to obtain a permit is laid down in the Road Haulage Act (GüKG). The necessary requirements for the issuing of the permit are regulated in the professional access ordinance for road haulage.

3. Specialist examination for road haulage

With the entry into force of Regulation (EC) No. 1071/2009 of the European Parliament, a new one applies Occupational Access Ordinance. The corresponding Expertise examination is filed in front of the responsible Chamber of Commerce and Industry, for example the IHK Berlin, and consists of a written and an oral part. The exam lasts four hours in total and the questions are made up of the subjects of law, commercial and financial management, technical standards and technical operation, road safety, accident prevention, environmental protection and cross-border road haulage. You can find the necessary specialist and specialist knowledge for road haulage in the relevant specialist literature or you can prepare yourself in private courses in face-to-face form or via e-learning platforms.

Driving license for the transport of dangerous goods

Anyone who transports dangerous goods such as flammable liquids, poisonous, radioactive or caustic substances on German roads also needs the ADR training certificate, also known as a dangerous goods driving license. In Germany, these tests are carried out by the responsible German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK). You and all drivers you use for the transport of dangerous goods must have completed a basic course on dangerous goods transport and passed the final exam.

A good overview of the basic admission requirementsfor road hauliers and the essentials Regulations in the Road Freight Transport Act you can find it at the IHK Schleswig-Holstein, for example.

4. Establish a forwarding agency: legal form, taxes and insurance

In principle, you are free to choose the legal form in which you set up your transport company. As with all start-ups, the legal form should be adapted to your particular situation. In other words, if you are setting up a business on your own, you can of course start a business as a sole proprietor. When founding a GmbH, you limit your entrepreneurial risk to the company's assets and are not liable with your private assets. However, you have to pay dearly for this limitation of liability - in the form of share capital of at least 25,000 euros, which you have to deposit in your business account. Alternatively, you can open your transport company as a UG (entrepreneurial company). In this case you benefit from the same limitations of liability as the GmbH, but you only need one euro of start-up capital. How complex your bookkeeping will be depends on the type of company you choose. While the simple bookkeeping is sufficient for sole proprietorships, you are obliged to double bookkeeping with the GmbH and the UG and are subject to the accounting rules of the Commercial Code and must be entered in the commercial register.

Relevant tax types for transport companies

In addition to the Business registration also takes place before starting your work Registration at the tax office. The income from your transport company is subject to whether you have a Partnership or a corporation the income tax or corporation tax. Added to this is the sales tax that is levied on all services offered by your transport company. While income tax, corporation tax and sales tax are paid directly to the tax office, trade tax is a municipal tax that is levied directly by the city or municipality in which your transport company is based and also paid to them.

Insurance for transport companies

Apart from the usual safeguards against operational risks like the Public liability insurance and the Legal protection insurance You are obliged to take out special liability insurance in accordance with Section 7a of the Goods Transport Act (GüKG) in order to be able to set up a forwarding company. This liability insurance covers statutory liability for damage to goods and damage caused by delay during transport, provided that the place of loading and unloading is in Germany. You or your driver must carry appropriate proof of valid insurance with you for every transport and present it on request.

You are also obliged to register your transport company for statutory accident insurance with the employers' liability insurance association. BG Verkehr is responsible.

Registration with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK)

Transport companies are required to be members of the relevant Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Just like the tax office, you will be automatically informed of your establishment when you register your business.

5. Set up a transport company: costs and financing

Setting up a shipping company is usually quite costly. You have to reckon with numerous expenses for the establishment and ongoing operation. To count here among other things. costs for

  • the vehicle fleet
  • Rent for parking spaces and storage space
  • Permits
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Membership fees
  • staff
  • fuel
  • Repairs

Here again, careful planning comes into play. As part of your business plan, you draw up a financial plan and think about how you want to finance the costs. In addition to traditional financing by banks or investors, there are other options. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) offers, for example, a funding program in the field of freight transport and logistics to strengthen Germany as a logistics location.

Establishing a forwarding agency: the most important points in brief

Setting up your own transport company in Germany and working independently as a freight forwarder is a good idea. It is true that the establishment of a company is associated with a comparatively large amount of effort and high costs. The geographical location makes Germany the perfect location, especially for European-wide transports. There are a few things to consider, but with careful planning, you have a good chance of entering a sustainable industry with your own transport company.

  • Road haulage: You need a business registration before starting your business activity as a transport company
  • If the total weight of a transport vehicle is more than 3.5 tons, you will also need one permission for national road haulage
  • The general license requirement is im Road Freight Transport Act (GüKG) set.
  • For the Business registration requiring a permit you have to prove your personal, professional and financial suitability.
  • The necessary requirements for the granting of the permit are in the Professional access ordinance for road haulage regulated.
  • For cross-border transports within the EU / EEC you need a Community license.
  • A Liability insurance for transport companies with a minimum sum insured of 600,000 euros per claim is mandatory.
  • Membership in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) as well as in the employers' liability insurance association BG Verkehr its a must.

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