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matthew
26th October 2020

Coronavirus: Postal Services Information and Updates

Information about the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) to postal services in Northern Ireland, including the latest information about Post Office branches, Royal Mail, DPD, Yodel, Hermes, DHL and UPS.

The information on this page was last updated on 26 October 2020.

Post Office branches

The vast majority of Post Offices in Northern Ireland remain open for business. 

Post Office Limited will follow government guidelines to ensure customers and staff are safe.  Any decisions to close individual branches will be taken on a case by case basis.

Temporary Closures

Those currently closed in Northern Ireland are Caledon Drumaroad and Coa.

Post Offices that are closed will have a notice displayed telling you where nearby branches are located.

Reduced opening hours

Post Office Crown branches are no longer operating on reduced hours. This means the following branches are over normal hours:

  • Bangor (143 Main Street)
  • Antrim (27-28 Castle Centre)
  • Derry/Londonderry (3 Custom House Street)
  • Newtownards (8 Frances Street)
  • Belfast City (12-16 Bridge Street)

The franchised postmasters of the remaining branches may choose to reduce opening hours in response to local circumstances.

The Post Office is using floor markers so consumers can queue at a 2-metre distance from each other. It has also purchased protective screens for branches with open counters.

The Post Office is also making the first hour of every day available to elderly or vulnerable customers and those working in NHS or care services.

You can check where your nearest post office is located and opening hours here.

Post Office Card Account

The Post Office continues to provide Post Office Card Account (POCA) services.

If you are concerned about going into your post office you can nominate someone to use your card. You will need to complete a form. More information is available here.

Be aware of potential scams. Never share your post office card and pin number with anyone. Please see section on avoiding scams for details on how to report suspicious behaviour.

The Department for Communities has put additional support in place to assist Post Office card account and HM Government Payment Exception Service customers who are unable to access their benefit or pension payments during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

A single point of contact has been established within the Department’s ‘Make the Call’ team to receive referrals from the NI COVID19 Helpline or Post Office Ltd for immediate action.

The Department will offer a range of options including,

  • Switching customers to a bank account to allow the purchase of items over the phone or on line,
  • Setting up a permanent agent or appointee to collect their money on their behalf, or
  • Issuing a voucher payment via SMS/email to a trusted friend to collect their money for them.

The Make the Call team can be contacted by emailing makethecall@dfcni.gov.uk or phoning 0800 232 1271.

The COVID-19 Community Helpline can be contacted by 0808 802 0020.

Post Office Travel Money Card

Any foreign currency held on Post Office Travel Money Cards can be transferred back to Pound Sterling without incurring a fee to use during the coronavirus pandemic. Further details are available here. However, if you withdraw money from an ATM a £1.50 fee is charged. To avoid this you can get the money from the Post Office counter free of charge.

Social distancing and deliveries

To ensure the health and safety of yourself and delivery drivers, parcel operators should knock on you door, leave the parcel on the doorstep and then stand back to maintain social distance. If a signature is needed, the delivery driver should ask for your name and then record this on the handheld device.

Couriers and Parcel Delivery (eg Royal Mail and Hermes)

Information about any changes to delivery services by DHL, DPD, Hermes, Royal Mail, UPS and Yodel.

Amazon

Amazon is updating its logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing and other processes to ensure consumers can shop at Amazon.co.uk and have orders delivered to the door.

Amazon is providing contactless delivery. Some deliveries may be taking longer than usual and some of items might not always be available.

Consumers will have longer to return items.

Click here for the latest information from Amazon.

CollectPlus

CollectPlus is still operating. It has social distancing protocols in its CollectPlus Points to help to protect consumers and staff.

Some CollectPlus Points are temporarily closed or may not be operating as normal. You can check where your nearest CollectPlus is located and opening hours here.

CollectPlus' customer service telephone lines will be closed for the foreseeable future. Visit the link below for information o contacting CollectPlus.

Click here for the latest information from Collect Plus.

DHL

DHL’s operations continue. To protect its staff and consumers DHL has implemented the following steps:

  • Doorstep parcel deliveries. DHL’s Accepted at Delivery Point service is now its standard offering. DHL will knock or ring the bell and will then step away to a safe distance. The driver will ask for their name, record ‘Accepted at Delivery Point’ and then take a photo of the premises.
  • Unable to come to the door to accept delivery. If a consumer is unable to come to the door, a card will be left advising of alternative delivery options. A friend or family member can collect the parcel from either the local DHL Parcel UK depot or ServicePoint. They will need the card, and ID for themselves and the person they are collecting on behalf of.
  • DHL has extended their delivery window until 8pm and the drivers are out delivering every weekend.

The latest information from DHL is available here.

DPD

DPD’s operations continue. To protect its staff and consumers DPD has implemented the following steps:

  • DPD will no longer ask customers to sign its handheld units. Instead DPD will take a photo of the parcel at the point of delivery. For those self-isolating or unable to open their door to receive parcels, consumers can select their delivery preferences on the DPD app or leave a note on the front door DPD where to leave the parcel.
  • Please note that there may be increased surcharge rates due to the reduction of airline travel. For more information see here.

The latest information is available from DPD here.

Hermes

Hermes operations continue. To protect its staff and consumers Hermes has implemented the following steps:

  • Asking its customers to choose a safe place for delivery.
  • If a safe place hasn't been chosen but there is somewhere safe to deliver the parcel, Hermes will leave it there. A photo will be taken and this will be included in the delivery notification email.
  • For parcels requiring a signature, Hermes couriers will sign on behalf of the customer to avoid unnecessary contact via hand-held devices. This will only happen when the customer opens the door and gives their name for security reasons. The courier will stay at least two steps away.
  • If there is no safe place available, delivery will be attempt 3 times.

 Click here for the latest information from Hermes.

Parcelforce

Parcelforce has implemented the following steps:

  • It has resumed its service guarantees on some services from and will maintain service levels where they can. However, it will try to deliver any items sent by express9, express10 or express AM services during the morning.
  • Parcelforce will not hand over our hand-held devices to customers to capture electronic signatures.  Instead, its drivers will log the first and last name of the person accepting the item, then put 'XP1' in the signature field, and it will record the geolocation of the delivery.  This will apply to all deliveries that normally require a signature
  • Parcelforce is suspending its international delivery guarantees and items may be delayed. Parcelforce is unable to guarantee that a signature on delivery will be obtained outside of the UK.  

Click here for the latest information from Parcelforce.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail’s operations continue. However, its absence rates are currently double what they normally expect which means some areas may experience a reduction in service levels at their local mail centre or delivery office. 

From 13 June Royal Mail has resumed the delivery of letters on a Saturday. Tracked parcels, Special Delivery items and most parcel will still be delivered on Saturdays. To protect its staff and consumers. Customers should continue to post both letters and parcels as usual on Saturday as Royal Mail will continue Saturday collections from businesses, post offices and post boxes as normal.

Royal Mail has implemented the following steps:

  • All doorstep parcel deliveries. For parcels that won’t fit through your letterbox, Royal Mail will knock your door and step aside to a safe distance while you get your item.
  • Unable to come to the door to accept delivery. If you are unable to come to the door Royal Mail will issue a ‘Something for You’ card, advising of other ways you can arrange to get your item. For example, by getting a friend or family member to collect the parcel from a local Royal Mail Customer Service Point. They will need to bring along the card Royal Mail left you and a form of ID in the name of the person the item is addressed to.
  • Deliveries that require a signature. Royal Mail staff will not hand over the devices to capture customer signatures. Instead Royal Mail staff will log the name of the person accepting the item. This will apply to all deliveries that require a signature.
  • Sending and receiving international parcels. Customers can expect delays to normal Royal Mail postal services, on a country by country basis and updates will be posted as soon as they become available here.
  • Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm. Guaranteed delivery for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1.00pm the next working day will change to by 4.00pm the next working day*. This includes items where a Saturday guarantee has been purchased. (*existing postcode exceptions apply).
  • Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am. For items posted from Monday 28 September 2020 onwards, our guaranteed delivery for Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9.00am the next working day will change to by 11.00am the next working day (existing postcode exceptions apply).
  • Collecting items or arranging redelivery. Royal Mail has extended the length of time it will hold items for you to collect or have the item redelivered. Royal Mail is temporarily retaining items for 30 calendar days from Monday 6 April before items are returned to sender. This will apply to a ‘Something for You’ card, a ‘Surcharge to Pay’ card, a ‘Customs Charge to Pay’ and Local Collect items where the parcel is addressed to the Customer Service Point.
  • Delivery to care homes. Royal Mail is making arrangements to deliver to a central point (e.g. reception) rather than individual addresses within care homes from 19th March. These changes will help to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable in society.
  • Sending items to outside of the UK. There are significant delays to a number of countries. Royal Mail advises not to send items to destinations listed as ‘On suspension’ on its International Incidents Bulletin. Consumers can stay up to date and manage their deliveries the Royal Mail app.
  • Customer Service Points. Royal Mail has changed the opening hours of its Customer Service Points located in local delivery offices. Larger locations will be open between 7am - 11am. All other Customer Service Points will be open between 7am - 9am. All will be closed on Wednesday and Sunday. Your local delivery office opening hours can be found here.
  • Temporary change to service: The retention period before an item is returned to sender has been extended to 30 calendar days. From Tuesday 1 September 2020 the retention period will revert to the standard 18 calendar days (21 calendar days for Customer charges).
  • Customer Service Centres: From 27 June 2020, there will be an increase in the opening hours on Saturdays. Customer Service Points will continue to be open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday along with Saturday. All will be closed on Wednesday and Sunday. Find your local Customer Service Point opening hours here or on the Royal Mail app.
  • Keepsafe service. Royal Mail has introduced a 100 day keepsafe service to help small businesses. More information is available here.
  • Business Redirection and Diversion refund.  Businesses that have taken out a redirection or diversion service after 16 March 2020 and return to their usual premises before the service expires will get a refund for any remaining time. More information is available here. 

The latest information from Royal Mail is available here.

UPS

UPS’s operations continue. To protect its staff and consumers UPS is complying with government regulations and health safety and guidelines related to the containment of Coronavirus when delivering items and handing parcels.

The UPS Service Guarantee (also referred to as the UPS Money Back Guarantee) has been suspended.

The latest information is available here.

Yodel

Yodel’s operations continue. To protect its staff and consumers Yodel has implemented the following steps:

  • Doorstep parcel deliveries. All parcels which do not require a Proof of Delivery and, where possible, will be left in a safe place. If no safe place is available or a Proof of Delivery is required, Yodel will ring or knock on the door and move 2 meters away from the door. Where the customer answers the door, they will explain that they are making a delivery and ask the customer for confirmation of their surname. Yodel will select “Unable to sign Covid-19” enter the customer’s surname.
  • Unable to come to the door to accept delivery. If the customer does not answer the door, Yodel will attempt to deliver to a neighbour, enter the neighbour’s surname into the device and sign it “Covid-19”.

 Click here for the latest information from Yodel.