Have you ever arrived at the Post Office or tried to arrange a courier delivery to send off a parcel, only to find out that what you were hoping to post can’t be handled by mail services? There are a surprising number of rules and regulations when it comes to posting parcels and letters. Did you know, for instance, that you’re prohibited from sending frozen water, but you can post frozen food, if packaged in a particular way? Or that you can post live insects but not live animals?

We’ve put together a guide to make sure that whatever you’re posting, it reaches its destination safely and successfully.

What can you send, with restrictions?

Couriers accept most things, though they ask that they are properly packaged. Some items however, require extra care and attention. If you’re sending something out of the ordinary, then make sure you check with your courier of choice that they’re able to take care of it.

  • Sending batteries and electronic devices can be complicated. Some of them are fine to send as is (such as AA batteries, if unopened and in their original packaging), whereas others have to be packaged in a specific way.
  • The insect-lovers amongst us will know that you can send and receive live insects by post. As long as they’re packaged so nothing will come to any harm, and the parcel is clearly marked “URGENT – LIVING CREATURES – HANDLE WITH CARE”, then you should have no problem. It should be sent as 1st class minimum.
  • Sharp objects must be packaged so that they do not pose a threat to employees, other items and recipients. Sharp objects include: knives, kitchen utensils and gardening tools.
  • Radioactive Material can only be posted if it’s not classified as dangerous. It should be completely covered by cushioning material.
  • Guns can be sent if they’re for sporting for purposes, including Section 1 (e.g. hunting rifles) and Section 2 (e.g. shotguns) firearms. They must be sent in compliance with UK law and domestic controls on the possession of firearms. You can also post antique, deactivated and imitation guns. Unfortunately, you can’t post ammunition, other than lead pellets.

What can’t you send?

While couriers are flexible on some things, there are other items that you absolutely should not attempt to send.

  • Surprisingly, despite the fact that you can send frozen food, you cannot send frozen water, including packs of ice.
  • You can’t send perfumes and aftershaves. Specifically, ones that have been classed as flammable. Most couriers won’t accept liquids at all as a general rule.
  • Varnishes, including nail varnishes and gloss paint are not allowed through the post.
  • You are prohibited from sending batteries that are classed as dangerous goods. If they are not contained within or connected to an electronic device, then do not sent through the post.

The Right Packaging

Now you know what safe to post, it’s important to get your packaging right. Packaging protects your parcel from damage, it tells the delivery person where it’s going, as well as giving them an idea of what’s inside and how to take care of it – without giving too much away! Here are our tips for the perfect packaging.

  1. Know the size, weight and value of the item that you’re sending. This knowledge will help you decide on the packaging, and if it’s big, heavy or expensive then you may need more extensive or robust packaging.
  2. Use a brand-new box. This will offer more protection than a used one. Aim to leave at least five centimetres between the edge of the box and the item you’re sending.
  3. Use lots of internal packing materials to make sure your contents can’t rattle around. Use tissue paper or bubble wrap to wrap items individually so they don’t knock or break against each other.
  4. Write delivery and sender addresses clearly on the box. The delivery address should be clear and correct, but if it becomes illegible or undeliverable, the sender address means that it can be returned to you. This also helps in the scenario where you package has been lost in the post.
  5. Use quality parcel tape on all edges of the parcel. This reinforces the weak points of the box, making it less likely to collapse as it travels through the delivery system.
  6. Remove any other addresses or labels from the box, so there’s no confusion as to where your parcel is headed and doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

Double check with your courier or postal service for the full restricted and prohibited items list. And don’t forget if you’re regularly ordering unusual items yourself, then why not consider a bigger post box. (which we conveniently offer!) This can make receiving awkward sizes much easier, and will save you having to pick up larger items from your local depot if you’re not in to receive delivery.

Have you had problems posting parcels in the past? Let us know on Twitter.

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