Throughout the financial year ending in March 2022, Royal Mail released that they delivered more than 7.9 billion parcels and letters throughout the UK. If you send a lot of packages through the mail service, you might believe you know all there is to know about the laws and regulations for sending post.
Whether you’ve thoroughly researched the mail laws in the UK for your own personal use or for your business, refreshing your knowledge can never hurt, and there may be some that you don’t know.
Postal Services Act 2000
At the turn of the millennium, the Postal Services Act 2000 was introduced to the UK with several key goals. These included making the Post Office a public limited company (PLC) with the aim to modernise it and run as a fully commercial business. It also stood to act as a regulator to promote competition and reduce monopoly, as well as putting consumers ahead of the needs of corporations.
One thing that the Postal Service Act is most known for is the introduction of Sections 83 and 84, which refer to the tampering of mail by postal operators and general tampering, respectively. This can refer to postal services intentionally delaying the delivery of a parcel without valid reasons or unauthorised individuals opening mailbags or parcels.
Depending on how severe the infraction on the mail, your punishment could be equally as severe. Offenders could be fined upwards of £5000 according to the UK standard scale for fines and could even result in six months to two years in prison.
Data Protection Act (DPA), 2018 & GDPR
The Data Protection Act (DPA) was introduced in 2018 and served as the incorporation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the UK. Its purpose is to offer the key outline of data privacy and protection, specifically how businesses and governments manage and use the public’s data.
This is hugely important for businesses that ship products directly to their customers and consumers, as you hold a significant amount of data from personal information like address and phone numbers to financial data like debit card information. Storing the data securely and not passing it over or using it without the consent of the subject is a huge part of the act.
It also gives the subjects various rights over the data, meaning that if there is no consent to use or keep the data stored by a business, they can request certain alterations to what’s stored or simply have it erased from systems altogether. This is especially important for businesses that undertake direct mail services as if a consumer is receiving direct mail that they aren’t interested in, the service must have a cancellation option to prevent spam.
If a business is subject to any breaches of data where it may have fallen into the wrong hands, the data subjects should be identified and informed to prevent further damage. The business should also file a report to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Prohibited and restricted items
There are few more important rules and regulations to know when sending parcels than the prohibited and restricted items that you cannot send through Royal Mail. There’s a full list available of what you can’t send through the postal service, and while there are some obvious inclusions on the list, such as explosives and ammunition, there are some that may be prevalent for your personal or business use.
No matter what you’re sending, you should always consult this list beforehand and see if the contents of your packages breach the rules. One prohibited item that’s become more common that you may be unaware of is electronic devices with lithium batteries either included or connected. There are specifications of the Watt-hour rating for lithium ion or polymer batteries, with the maximum being 20Wh per cell or 100Wh per full battery.