When it comes to shipping a package in the United Kingdom, there is one main postal service: the Royal Mail. This trusted company is responsible for the infamous red letter boxes you may have seen around cities such as London.

The Royal Mail has been delivering mail for over 500 years in the United Kingdom, which is no small feat!

If you’re a business looking to move products in the United Kingdom, the Royal Mail will play a key role in this process.

This article will cover everything you need to know about shipping requirements for the royal mail, including packaging requirements, label best practices, and tips for making sure your package arrives safely and on time.

Royal Mail Packaging Requirements for Parcels and Letters Shipping

To make sure packages don’t get damaged during shipment, Royal Mail has some key recommendations.

  • Every package requires a barcode, a destination address that includes the postcode, a UK returns address, a complete sales order.
  • Use padded envelopes or mailer bags for sharp edges or odd shapes.
  • Don’t use wallets, tape, string or strapping on a parcel unless this has been agreed upon with Royal Mail in advance, as it may impact sorting machines.
  • When applying a shipping label, use clear, legible writing and place the label on a flat surface with no creases or folds.
  • Place another address label inside the package.
  • If your package is small, ensure the barcodes and address information isn’t wrapped over the edges.
  • Do not place any sticky tape over the label as the print quality will be affected, which means Royal Mail may not be able to scan or deliver your package.
  • If you’re printing your own shipping labels, Royal Mail recommends using a thermal printer for a better quality print. Your labels will also need to be produced with recognized software – check with your Royal Mail account manager or a customer services advisor if you’re not sure.
  • If you choose to use Royal Mail labels, they use paper labels for all of their barcoded domestic delivery and returns. Each label should include a barcode for each item.
  • Ensure that fragile items within a package don’t touch each other or the side of the box or mailer.
  • Consider filling void space with cushioning such as scrunched tissue paper or HEX wrap.
  • Seal a package securely with packing tape along all the edges and openings.
  • Use a ‘FRAGILE’ sticker if the product you’re shipping is easily breakable.
  • Items that are prohibited to be shipped via Royal Mail include alcohol, aerosols, lighters, liquids and nail varnish.
  • How your packages will be dispatched for mailing will depend on what type of mail service you choose, from Tracked 24 and 48 to Special Delivery Guaranteed. Some services require each item to be weighed, while other items require a seal bag. Find the requirements for the different types of services here.
  • International shipping may follow different guidelines, so it’s best to check out Royal Mail’s country guides here for advice on how to send packages further afield than the United Kingdom.

Selecting the Right Packaging to Meet Royal Mail Shipping Requirements

Boxes and Mailer Bags

Shipping requirements vary according to weight, size and fragility of the product. It’s important to choose the right packaging, so that the items in question are not damaged in transit. To reduce the impact of shipping products, consider using packaging that is part of a sustainable framework like a Recycled Mailer or Compostable Mailer.

noissue Compostable Mailer by @acerivington

If you’re shipping products that are more fragile like homeware and gifts, a Stock Recycled Box or Custom Recycled Box is a great option. The outside of a package shows who the package is from from the moment it is received. A stock box is a cost-effective way to ship products.

noissue Custom Recycled Box by @haydesignco

Protection and wrapping

To fill void space, you can create branded tissue paper and scrunch or fold it so it fills the empty space around your products. Test if the package is secure by giving it a shake and see if it budges.

noissue Custom, Compostable Tissue Paper by @littlelovesbeauty

In addition to regular mailers, Padded and Recycled and Rigid and Heavy-Duty mailers are also available.

Labels and Stickers

As we detailed earlier, Royal Mail's requirements include that shipping labels should be clear and easily readable. Compostable Shipping Labels are a good option because not only are they clearly legible, but they can also be disposed of in a home or commercial compost by your customers and they will break down, leaving no traces behind.

noissue Compostable Shipping Labels by @mypadayon

Wrapping It Up

We hope this guide has helped you learn more about the Royal Mail’s shipping requirements!

Before you ship with Royal Mail, it's a good idea to consider the packaging process in your business and make sure you choose the right packaging that fits your branding and sustainability goals.

noissue offers custom stickers and tape, compostable and recycled mailers, recycled boxes, custom tissue paper and more! Check out our packaging options by industry here.