Sending mail

Applies to Account Holding Customers only

Postal Services is responsible for handling all outgoing University mail. We offer a full range of services, from posting a single letter to sending multiple packages internationally by courier, and we have access to nationally negotiated discounts on many of these services. To get an idea of the cost of sending an item, you can request a quote using our online form.

All items we receive will leave the University on the day we receive them provided they have been prepared as described below.

The sections below give more details on the services we offer and how to use them:

Important courier service information

Since April 2017 the University's courier service suppliers (DHL and Parcelforce) have been required by UK's Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) in respect of 'Denied Parties' legislation to check sender and receiver details against a government database. To this end, we are required by the carriers to supply the full names and email addresses of senders and receivers of all qualifying items.

Remember also that you must supply a telephone number for PO Box based addresses when using courier services. Sometimes this will not be enough and you may have to provide an alternative 'real' address.

How to send external mail

We will only collect and process mail that arrives in the post room in one of our black or green pouches; with a Service/Reference Request sticker; or with mailing docket. Use the docket when you can't fit mail in a pouch, when your pouches are missing, or when we have been asked you to keep something separate from your pouches. Please do this regardless of any other system you currently use to identify your mail. You can print off a copy of the Mailing Docket whenever you need one, request copies via the online postal supplies request form or by contacting us at postroom@reading.ac.uk or on +44 (0)118 378 6530.

If you don't have pouches or service request labels, you will need to set up a postal account. Please email postroom@reading.ac.uk to begin the process.

Our van collection rounds are designed to accommodate many customer requirements, which is, necessarily, a complex compromise. We can't collect as late as many Departments would like but to make collections as late as possible from sites that are furthest from our mail processing base in Whiteknights House. Departments with earlier collections tend to be closer to us, from where it is easier to bring items to us on foot.

Hand delivered items can be processed up to 4.30pm but we recommend you bring complex to handle items (any tracked service for example) before 3.30pm. If we receive a lot of these late, we may not be able to process all of them before Royal Mail collect. DHL and Parcel Force items should also be brought before 3.30pm as these carriers collect earlier. Phone 6530 before bringing last minute items to check if the carriers have already collected.

General instructions 

To send items by Royal Mail, please stick the relevant sticker (PPI label) on the top right of the envelope, where the stamp would usually go. You can use Postal Services green or black pouches for any type of mail. It is OK to mix mail classes and types across both pouches but please bundle the types together within each pouch. You don't have to send both pouches. Some customers have a barcode label/pouch hybrid arangement to differentiate charging areas. These items should be bundled together with an elastic band with a single barcode label attached to the back of the bottom item before placing in a pouch.

The PPI label varies according to the service being used. See details for each service below.

If you are uncertain of the pouch arrangement in your area contact us at postroom@reading.ac.uk

Please check the Meeting non-EU customs requirements section below before sending anything other than documents outside the EU.

Essentials

  • Always using packaging, envelopes or cartons appropriate to the contents with one eye on weight for price purposes and another on suitability for 'rough' handling protection. Nobody can read 'Fragile' once an item is inside a sack. A heavy sack of variously sized and shaped mail will not respect a 'Please do not bend' instruction. Automated sorting machines may tear to shreds items with loose flaps, exposed staples and inadequate strength envelopes.
  • A rule of thumb for larger items is that you should use the equivalent of the manufacturer's original shipping packaging when you post on the items.
  • Post with PPI labels attached should never be posted in letter boxes - Royal Mail will treat this as fraud. PPI items are only valid mail if they have been counted, categorised and weighed in advance and registered on their servers as a fully documented mailing in advance of their collection from us.
  • Remember Royal Mail have a delivery time expectation for 1st and 2nd class standard letters or 24 and 48 large letters and packets. These are not delivery time guarantess. See the Trackable Requests section below for details of how to use services that do have guarantees.
  • Please ensure you include a postcode in the address. If you are unsure of the postcode, you can use the Royal Mail Postcode Finder. There should always be some method of identifying where to return items to in the event of them coming back. Don't send anything out without a return address on the cover or, at worst, something with your details on the inside.
  • Be careful where you put the return address. The Royal Mail envelope specification will help. Essentially, put it on the back at the top-middle and keep it small. If it has to go on the front then put it on the top-left but keep it small.
  • You can order more PPI labels using our online postal supplies request form. Please share these rolls in your office. Having a roll of each type and class on each desk is not necessary. We recently disposed of 176kg of unused labels when the design was changed. They are not free.
  • If anything arrives in Postal Services without an identifiable sending Department, if necessary, we will open it to determine who to charge.
  • Do not use ordinary 1st, 2nd, 48, 24 or airmail to send any item that is irrleplaceble, has a deadline or has intrinsic value. See the section Trackable Requests section below for details of how to use more appropriate services .
  • see our UK Mail size guide for determining which category your items belong to before choosing which PPI to affix to them.

Non-Account Mail

All pre-stamped (1st or 2nd class), return to sender, freepost and re-directed mail should be bundled together and posted in a mail pouch.

This mail will be treated with equal priority as all other mail arriving in postal services.

This section is not referring to personal mail services, which are available in the basement of Whiteknights House for staff and students.

Standard Letters

maximum size 240mm x 165mm x 5mm, up to 100g

1st and 2nd class services available.

It is vital that you read the General Instructions section above. The size and weight limits above are very strictly enforced by Royal Mail and us. If you want to keep postal charges down use lighter grade paper or fold A4 once and use a C5 envelope rather than folding twice into a DL envelope, which often results in standard letters becoming large letters.

They mean 5mm across its entire area when the envelope is not being temporarily compressed.

Remember, no matter how small or light your item is, a single dimension can move it into the Large Letter or Packet category.

 

Delivered by RM 2nd class PPIDelivered by RM 1st class PPI

 

 

 

 

 

Large Letters

maximum size 353mm x 250mm x 25mm, up to 750g (see our UK Mail size guide )

1st (24) and 2nd class (48) services available.

Use for items heavier or larger than Standard Letters.

See Packets below.

Packets

maximum size 610mm x 460mm x 460mm, up to 2000g (2nd class), 20kg (1st class)

(see our UK Mail size guide )

1st (24) and 2nd class (48) services available.

Use for items heavier or larger than Standard Letters and Large Letters.

It is vital that you read the General Instructions section above. The size and weight limits above are very strictly enforced by Royal Mail and us. If you want to keep postal charges down try to be careful with envelope size, weight of paper and arranging of contents. From the 1st of July 2013 you must use the following labels on Large Letters and Packets:

PPI label 24

 

 

 

 

PPI label 48

 

 

 

 

 

Airmail

It is vital that you read the General Instructions section above. International items can be bundled together and placed in the black or green pouch. Please do not attach any stickers or labels to airmail. Customers in Whiteknights House should bundle items together with an elastic band, then attach a barcode label to the bottom item.

When sending international mail, you must also be aware of the following:

  • The weight limit for airmail is 2kg, or 5kg for books, printed papers etc. that are labelled as such, and that contain nothing else whatsoever. If you need to send items larger than this, please contact us or request a quote using our online form.
  • Items other than letters being sent outside of the EU may require a customs declaration. Please contact us for advice on this.

See the section on other services for more information on sending parcels by post and courier.

Bulk mailings

When sending bulk mailings, please ensure that the items are prepared as follows:

  • First and second class items are separated.
  • All items are the same way up and the same way round.
  • Items should be bundled in equal numbers (where possible) and the number of items in each bundle indicated.
  • Please also keep EU, Rest of Europe and Rest of World desinations in separate bundles.

Please contact Postal Services before sending any bulk mailings larger than a single standard Royal Mail sack as we may need to arrange a special collection. If any sack is too heavy for you to lift with one hand, it is too heavy for us. Carry out a risk assessment to be sure.

Please telephone 7302 as soon as you have prepared any bulk mailing. Please don't wait until the end of the day to post everything. We can usually arrange a special pick up for parts of bulk mailings outside of our normal collection schedule.

Bulk trackable mailings

Bulk postings of Special Deliveries, Signed for, International Signed for, and Airsure require special preparation. Bulk for these purposes refers to more than 8 (eight) items. Follow this procedure:

  1. Telephone 6530 and tell them what you want to do.
  2. They will sent you an excel template for you to fill with the full names and addresses of all the items being posted for each class of service and destination zone. You can download a copy here (multiple tracked item xlsx template).
  3. This must be returned for checking before you send the items.
  4. Please keep the address labeled items in the same order and bundles or boxes to match the spreadsheets.
  5. You need not fully address the items. You can use summary addresses that will allow us to match the full service address labels we produce to the correct items.
  6. Attach a Service Request label (see below) to the bundles or boxes stating that you have already forwarded spreadsheets.
  7. Send the items to us.

Meeting non-EU customs requirements (and Pro-Forma invoices)

All sovereign states around the world impose import controls of one kind or another that apply to all incoming items. This is true for everything from letters and cards to complex electronic equipment, plants, animal material and clothing. In the case of simple and obvious documents, customs declarations are rarely required but for everything else they are. For small gifts and other lower value items most carriers accept simple declarations such as a Royal Mail CN22 form (supplied by us).

Everything else will require a more detailed contents description, usually in the form of an invoice. When you are not selling the item/s this can take the form of a Pro-Forma invoice, which customs services around the world expect to be able to easily interpret these by international convention. For each package in your consignment, put an itemized description of each parcel's contents, with weights, value and commodity codes (see below) in a tabular layout on headed paper with 'PRO-FORMA INVOICE' as the main heading.  Remember, as far as global customs organisations are concerned, everything has a value and if one is not declared, they will calculate one. You must sign and date each copy.

The inclusion of a trade tariff harmonization/commodity code is now considered compulsory. These can be obtained from the UK governments own website (dot gov tariff finder ) or any other similar site.

The arrangements of sender and addressee details are not critical, so it's OK to use standard University headed paper. You may need to extend tables beyond a single page for complex exports. It is essential that you produce dedicated invoices for each package in a consignment or that you include a box numbering system in the description section of a single consignment invoice. There are many examples of Pro-Forma invoices online. An example, using the University style for a Word document can be found here: Pro-Forma (this will start a document download process in you browser).

Additionally, there are special procedures for items being sent for repair or sale outside of the EU. Please contact us on +44 (0)118 378 6530 or postroom@reading.ac.uk for advice.

Trackable services and premium/special service requests

All other services, including Special Delivery, parcel post and courier services must be requested using a Premium Service/Reference Request label (pictured) and by following the procedure below. If you need an idea of cost before posting, you can request a quote using our online form.

 

 old style  

University of Reading Postal Services Service Request label (C)

 new style

 PremiumLabel

The green 21 per sheet labels have now been superseded by the red 40 per sheet simplified design. The 'old' green labels can still be used but new orders will be in the new style. The faint instruction section is designed to be written over with your instructions, telephone number and insurance request as appropriate.

You only need to use these labels when you are sending something by a non-standard service, which is anything that is tracked and/or receives a signature on delivery and may have contents insurance cover. Standard services, not requiring a Premium Service Request label are - UK 1st and 2nd class and (non-trackable) airmail to all destinations.

Attach the Premium Service Request label to the top left of your item.

  1. Pick the name of the service you wish to use from the table below and write this on the label. If you don't know which service you should use, you can contact us for advice, or if you need a courier service, tick the courier box and we will select the best service based on the weight and value of the item for next possible working day delivery (varies by destination).
  2. If you would like the item insured, enter a value on the label and use the word 'insure'. If you enter a value but don't use the word 'insure', we will contact you for clarification. 
  3. Enter your contact number and department code (from your pouch) on the label.
  4. If you are requesting 'UK Signed-For', attach a first or second class sticker.
  5. Place the item separately in a mail pouch or leave it on top of a mail bundle in your external out tray.
  6. To use the label so that the item can be identifiable on your itemised mail statement, write the word 'Reference' followed by any wording you like. You can combine this with a request for any service. Tracking numbers are automatically included in the mailing statement and emailed to the nominated account 'tracking contact/s'.
  7. Similarly, use the label if you just need 'Proof of Posting' but no particular trackable service. We will make the item identifiable on official Royal Mail documentation, equivalent of 'Certificate of Posting' in a Post Office.

Security of Service Request labels

If you need more labels you must use the order form on this site. We will not issue forms in response to telephone calls, emails or personal visits. We will post these to you and you then must store them securely. They are serial numbered and allocated to your mail account. Please don't order several sheets so that everybody in the office or Department can have their own sheet. Please ensure that there is a record of their use in your office posting book. Be careful, when using them at the last minute to post something urgent that you update your posting book.

We photograph all outgoing trackable items, including those with Premium Service Request labels, as evidence that we have processed them as you requested. In the event of somebody forgetting to update your posting records, this will help identify the poster. We will contact you for clarification if we think the requested service is inappropriate in practical posting terms.

We will only guarantee to post, on the day we receive them, items with correctly completed Premium Service Request labels. If gaps in processing allow, on the same day we will attempt to contact the telephone number given for clarification where there are errors or omissions on the label.

Protecting University interests and departmental postal budgets

Postal Services staff are trained to monitor all postal activity to seek opportunities to advise account holders where saving might be made. They will also alert managers if they suspect services are being used inappropriately in any way.

Should any suspicion arise, we will open any items that may be breaching carrier or University restriction or rules in any way to inspect the contents. If we discover a contravention of carrier restrictions, we will hold the item and inform the sender. If we suspect any other misuse we will consult with Internal Audit in the first instance.

DHL and Iraq Sanctions

DHL require an Indemnity Form to accompany each item/consignment going to Iraq.

We particularly draw you attention to paragraph 5, which you may want to give some consideration before signing. In this context, it is particularly important that descriptions of package contents are very precise so as not to fall foul of the sanctions paragraph 5 describes. If you are presenting an item to be sent by DHL to Iraq, please complete and sign the indemnity form and attach it to the item/s before sending to us, together with any other normally required documentation, such as Pro-Forma invoices. We will not complete this for you. You must also use this form if you are using your own DHL account to post to Iraq. DHL will return all Iraq bound items without this form. Don't forget you still need to use a Premium Service Request label (see above).

List of 'Special' Services

All services below require a signature on delivery unless stated otherwise. Use the name in the left-hand column on your Service Request label. Take care to read the footnotes where appropriate and don't hesitate to ask Postal Services for clarification if required

Name of service Use for Weight limit1 Trackable? Insurable? Speed
UK Signed For* UK mail that requires a signature on receipt 1kg 2nd class, 10kg 1st class Yes* No Same as 1st class or 2nd class
Special Delivery 9 Time dependent, valuable or irreplaceable item 2kg Yes Yes2 9.00 next working day
Special Delivery 1 Guaranteed next-day UK mail 10kg Yes Yes2 13.00 next working day
International Tracked & Signed

More secure non-UK mail requiring a signature on delivery

2kg or 5kg if parcel contains books only Yes3 Yes4 May be one day faster than airmail
International Tracked  More secure airmail items that don't require a signature on delivery  2kg Yes3 Yes4 May be one day faster than airmail
International Signed More secure airmail items that do require a signature on delivery  2kg  Yes3  Yes4  May be one day faster than airmail
Parcel Force Express 48 UK items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 48 hour by close of 2nd business day
Parcel Force Express 24 UK items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 24 hour by close of next business day
Parcel Force Express 12 UK items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 Noon next business day
Parcel Force Express 10 UK items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 10.00 next business day
Parcel Force Express 9 UK items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 9.00 next business day
Parcel Force Euro Priority Business European items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 2-3 days for most of Europe
Parcel Force Global Express Worldwide items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 1-5 days worldwide, depending on distance
Parcel Force Global Priority Worldwide items over 2kg that require proof of delivery  30kg Yes Yes2 Around 2 weeks worldwide
DHL UK High-value items  35kg Yes Yes5 Next day by close of business
DHL6 Urgent non-UK items  35kg Yes Yes 1-3 day service, depending on destination
City Sprint Same-day deliveries throughout the UK by bike or van  Vehicle limit7 Yes Yes Traffic/destination dependent8

Footnotes

* This service should not be used for time dependent, valuable or irreplaceable items. Trackability varies.

  1. It may be more cost-effective to send heavier items on a faster service.
  2. Up to a maximum of £2500 (extra charge), no cover for consequential loss. Saturday delivery option available - doubles cost.
  3. Only guaranteed to be tracked out of the UK. Some countries will pick up the tracking on their own systems.
  4. Limited cover available up to £500. Can be considerably less to some countries.
  5. Only use this service where insurance cover over £2500 is required.
  6. Use this service when you are selling something overseas and require proof of export for VAT purposes. See our page on advice about postal VAT and duty issues.
  7. Very large loads or loads where some items require two people to lift may incur a significant surcharge.
  8. Expensive service, charged by the mile. Small print only guarantees delivery by the close of business. 

Track your package

If you have sent a parcel through Postal Services, you can track your package using the links below:

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Did you know...

most second class post sent on a Friday will arrive the following Monday morning? This fact saved the University of Warwick £10,000 in one year!

 

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