Shipping with Royal Mail

Jul 2020
Nikolay Pasholok
Product Owner, Calcurates
Royal Mail is the UK's national postal service, with more than 500 years of history. It is in the top 10 of the best postal services in the world in terms of quality and reliability; when shipping within the UK, it may be a better option than FedEx or UPS. Every year, the company delivers over 1.2 bln parcels and more than 10 bln letters domestically across Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland but does not reach beyond that. Addressing a popular online inquiry, "Where does Royal Mail deliver to in the US?," we should say that, as with most of the postal services, Royal Mail relies on other national carriers to handle the last mile deliveries when shipping internationally.

Unlike USPS, Royal Mail is quite expensive, mostly because of the USD to GBP exchange rate. While the carrier had been a government-funded company for five centuries, it became independent in 2015 and is now on an equal footing with all other shipping companies. It also created a subsidiary called Parcelforce Worldwide to handle express parcel deliveries as a stand-alone carrier.

Royal Mail offers a wide variety of shipping options to businesses. With a smaller service area than USPS, a typical Royal Mail delivery usually takes two to four days domestically and up to two weeks internationally.

We took a look at how Royal Mail works and what shipping costs you might expect when working with them.

Royal Mail Shipping Costs

Royal Mail boasts a multitude of shipping options for various types of mail and parcels. The costs are affected by weight, volume, and compensation for loss or damage (for Special Delivery Guaranteed service), but there are other factors that affect the final price of delivery.

Domestic Shipping

For deliveries within the UK, Royal Mail offers three main types of services:

Guaranteed services

Guaranteed options are Royal Mail's take on overnight deliveries, with available compensation up to £10.000 in the case of damages or losses. The service also includes full tracking and proof of delivery via a signature. With Royal Mail, the cost of next-day delivery varies depending on the package weight and the desired delivery time.
including VAT and the lowest compensation for loss or damage

Royal Mail Signed For

A more economical option that features proof of delivery and signature from the recipient. For Signed packages, compensation only covers up to £50, so it's unlikely the best choice for valuable items. Delivery typically takes one to three working days.

UK Standard

A standard shipping option that does not include tracking. You can only use online delivery confirmation for small and medium parcels. While the prices for packages are £1 higher than that of Signed services, the cost of postage with Royal Mail through UK Standard is up to 200% cheaper.

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International Shipping

Royal Mail has three international shipping zones: Europe, which includes Russia and Greenland; World Zone 1, which encompasses the Americas, Asia, India, and Africa; and World Zone 2, which is reserved for Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and several remote islands. International shipping costs with Royal Mail vary depending on the three types of services. One thing to keep in mind is that Royal Mail doesn't send parcels over 2 kg internationally and redirects customers to Parcelforce Worldwide for such services.
International Tracked & Signed. Full end-to-end tracking, recipient's signature on delivery, and online confirmation.
International Signed. The item would only be tracked within the UK; however, there is still a proof of delivery via the recipient's signature.
International Tracked. Full end-to-end tracking with online confirmation of delivery.
The rates for all three services are the same, with up to a 20% increase in cost when shipping to an EU country.

International Standard

This option does not have tracking or delivery confirmation, but it is a cost-effective option with a time frame of up to seven working days.

International Economy

For those who seek the lowest international shipping cost, Royal Mail offers the Economy option that strips away all the additional services and provides the most competitive prices in the UK's market. However, this option only suits those who are in no hurry, as orders can take up to six weeks to deliver.

Business Account with Royal Mail

If you represent the e-commerce industry, you can open an online business account (OBA) with Royal Mail to take advantage of better rates, billing and invoice management tools, and personalized reports. Some rates offer considerable savings of up to 70% per item, but they are available only to businesses with significant order volumes (over 1,000 items per shipment).

Redirection with Royal Mail

Royal Mail offers to redirect your packages when you are moving to a different address or are temporarily away. If you are relocating, this service will automatically forward to you all of the mail typically sent to your old address. It gives you time to inform everyone on your contact list about the address change. This service is available for individuals and for businesses. The cost of redirecting with Royal Mail depends on where you move and for how long.

Individuals Domestic

Business Domestic

Individuals International

Royal Mail Tracking

You can follow the progress of your delivery with Royal Mail's Track & Trace service. It is only available on select shipping options domestically, namely Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed and Royal Mail Tracked (24 and 48). Internationally, Royal Mail tracking is available on all the services except for International Economy and UK Standard.

While Royal Mail provides full tracking details on limited services, you can still get a delivery confirmation with almost all the company's shipping options, excluding letters and economy deliveries.

Customers expect tracking information from online stores, so Track & Trace is a must when working with Royal Mail. You can use a designated page on the carrier's website, or the Calcurates Magento extension for tracking orders. Calcurates obtains the tracking number and provides both parties with a current location and status of the order.

Royal Mail Postcode Finder

If you send items often, you probably often look up postal codes for various addresses. For those who need to find a UK postcode, Royal Mail created Postcode Finder, a web tool that allows anyone to check the postal code for any address in the country. It also works the other way: you can fetch a list of addresses for any postcode you enter.

If you need to look up more than 50 addresses per day and Royal Mail's Postcode Finder does not suffice, you can use some of the Address Management Tools provided to businesses, which can automate some of the tasks without the limitations the basic web service has.

How Long Royal Mail Takes to Deliver

As the UK is much smaller than North America, the delivery times are perfect even for the cheapest shipping options. You can expect your letter to be delivered in one to three days when shipping domestically. Although there are no deliveries on Sunday, Royal Mail does operate on Saturdays, albeit for an extra charge.

Royal Mail Integration with Calcurates

Royal Mail can offer a wide variety of cost-effective options for e-commerce entrepreneurs who deal within the UK. Still, there is no built-in integration of Royal Mail in Magento. That means you can't offer Royal Mail as a shipping option to your customers unless you install an appropriate third-party extension. This is where Calcurates comes in.

It allows for a seamless Royal Mail integration to the list of shipping options with several other major carriers and postal services. When activated, Calcurates automatically computes the best shipping rate, optimizes the number of origins for multi-item orders, and provides you with all the tracking details if they are available.

Try a free demo of Calcurates now.
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