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09th August 2022


Information about sending and receiving mail through the postal system.

Mail Checklist

Follow our checklist to send parcels and letters to save time and money, ensure items arrive on time and that you are entitled to redress if things go wrong.

Always check if you can send the contents of your mail item through the postal network or if any restrictions or prohibitions apply

When sending valuable items to the UK or international destinations, you are responsible for checking whether the contents of your mail item are restricted or permitted to be transported through the mail network. If in any doubt, check with the postal company you are using or if using Royal Mail check at any Post Office branch or Royal Mail website. Many everyday items, such as aerosols, nail varnish and perfumes are considered dangerous goods under transport legislation.

Top Tip: You must complete & attach any customs declarations when sending items outside of the UK and EU.

Check the recipient’s address and make sure it is clearly labelled 

Include the house number or name, street name and postcode on a separate line. You can use Royal Mail’s address finder at

Consider the size and type of envelope you need

When sending greeting cards or correspondence using dark coloured or red envelopes, use a white label to display the address.

Top Tip: Avoid using very small or square envelopes to send cards and letters

Ensure items are adequately wrapped 

This is particularly important for sending parcels with fragile contents. Choose a strong but lightweight box or container. Do not forget about extra padding like bubble wrap. Always check and follow the postal company’s rules on its packaging requirements. 

Top Tip: Poor packaging voids postal insurance and compensation claims - so make sure your parcel is well wrapped

 Check the size and weight of your item 

The amount you pay depends on the size and weight of the item you are posting. If using an online service, be sure to measure and weigh your parcel accurately to avoid surcharges and to make sure you get an accurate price

Always include a return address 

Put this on the back of the parcel or envelope. Also, put the return address inside the parcel. f for whatever reason the item cannot be delivered, it will be returned to you.

Choose your parcel speed and cover you need 

Choosing the right postal product can not only save you money, but it can ensure your item arrives on time and if any problems occur you can receive compensation. 


  • Does the postal company accept the items you sent? 
  • Is your letter time-sensitive?
  • Do you require additional compensation coverage to protect you if the item gets lost or damaged? 
  • Does the postal company offer compensation cover for the item you are sending?
  • Is it important to have your item tracked?
  • Do you require proof of delivery?

Top Tip: If sending cash or vouchers, check if the service you select will provide compensation in the event of loss or delay.

Top Tip: Shop around for a cheaper tariff, perhaps using comparison sites. Consider posting non-urgent items by an economy service, such as second class. Safely reduce the size of your mail items by reducing the packaging or folding your item. Be careful if the item is fragile, not to compromise its protective packaging.

Pay the correct postage

Choose which method you would like to pay for your postage – If using Royal Mail, this can be at the post office counter or online. Alongside the type of postal product, you choose the cost of sending items will depend on its size and weight. If you do not pay the correct postage the intended recipient will be asked to pay a handling fee before the item can be collected or delivered.

Proof of posting

Ask at the counter for proof of posting when posting your items at your local post office or parcel drop-off point. This is your proof that you sent the item and are required to receive compensation if your item is lost, damaged, or delayed. Without this, the postal operator may not pay compensation. Ensure your proof of posting is date stamped and contains the destination of your postal item

Consider where to take your mail for posting

If using Royal Mail, customers can take their item to any post office branch in Northern Ireland or post at a post box if the items fit. When using a Post Box, it is important to note the time of the last collection, which should be displayed, as this will inform you if you have missed today’s collection. Some alternative parcel operators offer collection at your premises or drop-off at convenience stores. For business consumers or large volume users, the postal operator may offer a collection service.

Postal Issues

Common postal issues can relate to lost, delayed or damaged mail.

Check out our postal tool to find out about your postal rights, and whether you are entitled to compensation. Click here.

Scam Mail

Scammers may write to you out of the blue using clever techniques to persuade you to send them money or ask for personal and/or banking details. To find out more about the different types of scam mail and how to report click here

Consumer Guides

Here are some useful guides that will help you with sending letters and parcels, making a postal complaint and finding out more about the Post Office.

Royal Mail Quality of Service

Royal Mail, the universal service provider for postal services, is required to publish a range of quality of service performance results including those for First Class stamped and metered mail in each UK postcode area (PCAs). Northern Ireland is covered by the BT Postcode area. Quality of Service results for postal services in the BT postcode areas can be found