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What is the Universal Service?

Since the introduction of the Penny Black in 1840, everybody in the UK has been able to post letters and parcels to any part of the country for the same affordable prices. This, and a guaranteed delivery of mail each working day to the UK’s 28 million addresses, is known as the “Universal Postal Service” (or Universal Service for short) and it is as important to the social fabric of the country as it is to our business and commerce.

It’s our responsibility to define the scope and ensure the provision of the Universal Service, and to recognise that it may need to change over time to accommodate change in the requirements of postal users.  Royal Mail is currently its sole provider in the UK, and the following comprise the key parts of the Universal Service that Royal Mail currently provides:

  • Royal Mail’s First and Second Class services: priority and non-priority letters and packets weighing up to 2kg
  • Royal Mail’s standard parcel service: non-priority delivery of parcels weighing up to 20kg
  • Royal Mail’s Special Delivery: a registered and insured next-day delivery service
  • Royal Mail’s international outbound service, its international public tariff, and international signed-for products - the UK is also subject to the Universal Postal Union’s requirement to deliver mail coming from abroad
  • Mailsort 1400, First and Second Class: pre-sorted mail of all formats up to 2kg
  • Cleanmail, First and Second Class: the ‘entry level’ bulk mail product most often used by smaller businesses