Postal Services, Mail and Writing a Letter in the UK

Information on how to address mail and send a letter or parcel in the UK. Also information on forwarding mail and counter services available in UK Post Offices...

UK Addresses

The recommended format for addressing mail in the UK is:

  • Line 1: Full name and title of addressee
    Line 2: Company name (if applicable)
    Line 3: Building name and number (optional)
    Line 4: House number followed by the street name
    Line 5: Locality name (if required)
    Line 6: Town or city name (uppercase)
    Line 7: Postcode / zip code (uppercase)

For example:

  • Mr John Smith
    99, High Street
    AA1 1AA

It is possible, due to the precision of UK postcodes, to address a letter in the following format:

  • Line 1: House number
    Line 2: Postcode / zip code

For example:

  • 99
    AA1 1AA

Mail and Postal Services

There exist two rates for sending letters and parcels using the Royal Mail:

  1. First Class letters sent to mainland UK addresses are usually delivered the next day
  2. Second Class - letters can take up to three days.

Stamps are sold by the unit or in books of 4, 6 or 12 and are available from post offices and many supermarkets. They are also available online

Letter boxes

Letter boxes are red with the initials of the monarch at the time of the box's creation embossed on the front.

Bulk mailing

Special prices are available for large volumes of mail: for example, 250 letters and more.

Personalised stamps

Personalised stamps can be made.

Sending mail and parcels

Specific rates apply for sending mail within the UK, to Europe and for the rest of the world, depending on the weight and size of the letter or parcel. Prices vary depending on the provider

Royal Mail Signed For™ travels

A registered letter with signature on delivery (Royal Mail Signed For™ travels) can be sent for letters. An electronic confirmation receipt will be issued to the sender. Delivery time is the same as for First or Second Class post.

Special Delivery™

For items of value or requiring urgent delivery, the post office provides a service with guaranteed delivery times and compensation insurance.

Receiving parcels

Small packages are delivered through the letterbox. When a person is absent, a signature is required or the parcel is large, a 'While you were out' card is posted through the letter box indicating the address and opening hours of the delivery office where the parcel is being held. Proof of identity is required to pick up the parcel. It is also possible to arrange redelivery. Parcels may also be left with a neighbour for safekeeping and a card delivered to the recipient to let them know which address the package was delivered to.

Receiving Mail: Post Office Services

The post office provides a number of services:

Mail forwarding

Post can be forwarded to a new address for a fee. At least five working days before leaving an address, request a change-of-address form to forward mail to the new address in the UK or overseas. There are various lengths of time for this service: one, three, six and 12 months with the possibility of renewing the contract online. The fee applies for each surname.

To request mail forwarding it is necessary to provide for each surname:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address
  • There are several mail-forwarding services available in the UK

Mail holding service

The post office can hold mail (poste restante) on a temporary basis (maximum two weeks for mail from the UK, one month from abroad) over a three-month period on request. Service is free.

Post Office Opening Hours

Post offices in the UK are generally open from 09:00-17:30 with some closing for lunch and possibly one afternoon during the week. Branches are frequently open on Saturday mornings.

Post Office Official Services

Post offices in the UK issue fishing licences. Pensions and benefits are also paid through its branches.
Passport applications for UK nationals can be checked for a fee by the post office and sent to the Passport Office. An identity checking and certification service for up to three documents is available in certain branches, as is Biometric Enrolment for Foreign Nationals.

Post Office Financial Services

The post office also provides savings accounts, credit cards, loans, foreign currency exchange, mortgages and business financial services.

Unsolicited Mail

The Mailing Preference Service is a free service to which customers may sign up to have their names and home addresses in the UK removed from lists used by the direct mail industry.