International couriers accompany cargo on flights, expediting the parcel's delivery, and receive discounted airfares as a reward. While some companies still offer these opportunities, a full-time job as a courier has become rare because of the expansion of international parcel services and the increased security regulations after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
To become an international courier, you typically must be at least 18 years old, in possession of a valid passport, be of good health, and have a flexible schedule. Couriers use their allotted personal luggage space on a flight to transport time-sensitive materials, so it is generally permitted to only bring a small carry-on suitcase. The flights available for couriers are much fewer now that commercial freight options have expanded, but for those still looking for cheaper airfares as a courier, flexibility is key. The available flights, which will usually be listed on websites specializing in courier services, will be to specific airports at a specific time. Living near a major airport is an advantage.
Applying for the Job
Because opportunities in personal courier services have shrunk, few websites offer substantial listings. However, applicants can usually find some options for individual assignments on discount flight websites. It is important to check the company's reputation. Most should not require a fee to sign up.
Licensing and Certification
For an international courier position, no special licensing or certification is needed.
Career Growth/Additional Opportunities
The future of this industry is limited. For those who have a special interest in courier work, the U.S. Foreign Service does offer positions as a diplomatic courier in its Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Diplomatic couriers accompany classified material across international borders and are usually assigned to one of eight regional diplomatic courier offices.