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12th July 2018

Parcel Delivery Rights

Did you know that two in five Northern Ireland shoppers have experienced delivery surcharges when buying goods online? The most common issues are non-delivery to Northern Ireland, charging more to do so or withdrawal of the free-delivery option.

A new website provides advice on your rights and a portal to report problems you've had getting parcels delivered to Northern Ireland. 

Tips on protecting your parcel deliveries

  • Check delivery terms - Always check delivery options and costs before starting your order. Delivery restrictions or surcharges must be specified at the beginning of the online shopping process before checkout e.g. if the seller does not deliver to Northern Ireland. Always check delivery policies and terms and conditions before committing to a purchase to avoid disappointment.

  • Don't get caught with returns - You may have to cover the cost of returning items so always check terms and conditions of the website before purchasing. If returning your online order and the seller has requested that you pay for postage, it is important to consider the type of delivery service and cover you require. Don't forget - responsibility for the item lies with you until the item is delivered to the seller.

  • Shop around - consider using a price comparison website for parcel deliveries. If using Royal Mail, ask the Post Office to issue you with proof of posting. This is like a receipt, which shows the date, time and destination address. Without this, Royal Mail may not pay compensation if your item is lost, damaged or delayed.

  • Timebound - If you need the item by a certain date, perhaps as a birthday gift, factor in enough time as there may not be a next-day or express delivery option to Northern Ireland. Goods ordered online must be delivered within the time frame specified or agreed with the seller. If no time frame is agreed, the seller has to deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest not more than 30 days from the day after the contract is made or item is purchased. 

  • Think ahead - Will you be there when your parcel is being delivered?  If not, you should perhaps consider an alternative address e.g. workplace, friend, relative or lockerbanks. Collection options, such as click and collect are becoming increasingly popular with NI shoppers, so consider if this is a viable alternative for you. 

      Is it a safeplace - parcel operators have many different policies when it comes to

  • Some leave with a neighbour;
  • Others will leave an advice card; -    
  • Some leave in a location around your premises.  

If you are concerned about the safety of your mail and where it might be left, leave instructions when placing your order outlining where you would like this to be left. Alternatively, if you prefer the delivery was not placed in certain places (for example, wheelie bins) clearly place a 'No Parcels' sticker. 

  •  Proof of posting - When using the designated courier or pre-paid postage label organised by the seller, it is still important to retain a proof of posting to ensure you can prove that the item has been returned. If any delivery problems occur after you have returned the item the seller is responsible for sorting this out with their appointed delivery provider. Always include your address on the back of the parcel in case of problems with the return delivery.

My parcel hasn't arrived

What the law says?

What can I do?

  • The seller is responsible for goods up until they are delivered. This means, that in the event of non-delivery you must contact the seller rather than the delivery company.
  • Goods ordered online must be delivered within the time frame agreed with the seller. If no time frame is agreed, the seller has to deliver ‘without undue delay’ and at the very latest no more than 30 days from the date of purchase.
  • If you paid for delivery and requested the item be delivered by a certain date or time (eg by Christmas or next-day delivery) and the delivery arrives late, this is a breach of contract. You have the right to cancel your order and get a full refund.
  • You are entitled to cancel your order up to 14 days after the delivery of goods and receive a full refund however some exceptions do apply. The refund can includes the full cost of the item plus standard postage, regardless of the delivery option chosen.
  • For further information on your online shopping rights click here
  • Before you order look at the seller’s terms and conditions in relation to delivery. Do they state they can leave the item in an alternative location i.e on the doorstep, with a neighbour etc?
  • If not you can argue that the item has not been delivered and the seller has not fulfilled their terms.
  • Check with your neighbours and around your property in case the item has already been delivered.
  • Goods should be delivered within 30 days unless an alternative time period has been agreed. If this has not occurred: - Contact the seller. - Remind them of their obligations to get the items delivered to you. - Insist that they take action to resolve.

My parcel/ item has arrived damaged

What the law says?

What can I do?

  • The seller is responsible for goods until they are delivered to you or a nominated person.
  • This means, that in the event of damage you must contact the seller rather than the delivery company.
  • The conditions of the goods are the seller’s responsibility until the consumer receives the goods.
  • If you are at home at time of delivery, you will normally be asked to sign for item. This confirms that the item is in a good condition. However, if the item is damaged, signing this cannot waive your legal rights. When signing, you could record that the goods have not yet been inspected.
  • Check goods quickly after receiving. Raise any issues promptly;
  • If the item is damaged, retain evidence of the damage i.e take photographs of the parcel or box that it was delivered in.
  • Lodge a complaint with seller as soon as possible.

For further information on your online shopping rights click here.

How to complain?

Your contract is with the seller and not the delivery company. Therefore you should contact the seller to make a complaint.

  • Let the seller know the problem i.e. parcel not arrived, damaged etc;
  • Confirm any discussions in writing to seller;
  • Act quickly so that the seller cannot claim the damage was caused by you.
  • The seller must prove that the blame was not theirs within 6 months of you receiving the goods.;
  • If goods are damaged you can request them to be repaired or replaced. Any damage to the item it is the responsibility of the seller.

For further information on how to make a postal complaint see our leaflet.

For further information on how to make a complaint against a trader or ask about your consumer rights, contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 or visit For advice on your rights regarding parcel delivery restrictions and surcharges, and to report problems with particular retailers, visit