Practical Posting

Published Tuesday, 29 April 2014
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Many of us send letters and parcels on a regular basis. Whether it's paying a utility bill, sending gifts or posting a birthday card, it is important that you are aware of how to post your mail correctly.

With the Consumer Council now taking on new responsibilities to represent consumers of postal services in Northern Ireland, we have put together a handy checklist to help ensure your letters and parcels arrive on time and what you are entitled to if things go wrong.

1. Check the recipient's address

Make sure the address is clearly labelled - include the house number or name, street name and postcode on a separate line.

Royal Mail will not pay compensation for lost items if an incorrect or incomplete address is used.

2. Consider the size and type of envelope you need

When sending greeting cards or correspondences using dark coloured or red envelopes, use a white label to display the address. In addition avoid using very small or square envelopes. This will help Royal Mail's machinery to read the address more accurately.

3. Always check if there are restrictions or prohibitions on the contents of your mail

It is your responsibility to check whether or not the contents of your mail is restricted or permitted to be transported through the mail network. If in doubt, check Royal Mail's website ( or with staff in Post Office branches.

4. Ensure items are adequately wrapped

Choose a strong but lightweight box or container and add extra padding like bubble wrap if required when sending fragile items.

5. Check the size and weight

The size and weight will determine how much you will pay to post your item. This will differ depending if the mail item is a letter, large letter, small sized parcel or medium sized parcel. For the dimensions of each type of mail, please check our useful reference guide.

6. Always include a return address

Put this on the back of the parcel or envelope in case the item cannot be delivered. This means the item will be returned to you.

7. Consider the type of delivery and cover you need

Know the destination, value and delivery aim of your mail. This will help you choose the correct postal product and ensure you can receive adequate compensation if problems occur.

8. Pay the correct postage

The cost of your item will depend on the type of postal product and its size and weight. You can check you are paying the correct postal tariff at

If you don't pay the correct postage, the intended recipient will be asked to pay the shortfall and an additional fee of £1.00.

9. Proof of posting

Ask at the counter for proof of posting when posting your items at your local post office. Ensure this is date stamped and contains the destination of your postal item. If your item is lost, damaged or delayed, this proof will be requested if Royal Mail is required to pay compensation.

10. Consider where to take your mail for posting

You can take your item to any post office branch or post at any post box.

If you are posting a large volume of parcels, consider using the Post Office FREE Limited's Fast Drop service, which will help you to save time at the post office.

When using a post box, note the time of last collection as this will inform you if you have missed today's collection.

If you want to gain further details on any of the above and what you are entitled to; you can get a free copy of our 'A Practical Guide to Postal Services: Sending Letters and Parcels' guide by downloading from the Consumer Council website: or by contacting 0800 121 6022 or

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Consumer Council
Consumer Council

The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers.

They aim to make consumer voices heard and make them count.

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