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  • FIRST POST
    • redmower3
    • By redmower3 25th Apr 12, 11:25 AM
    • 45Posts
    • 21Thanks
    redmower3
    Royal Mail: When does a letter become a small packet when posting outside uk?
    • #1
    • 25th Apr 12, 11:25 AM
    Royal Mail: When does a letter become a small packet when posting outside uk? 25th Apr 12 at 11:25 AM
    Hello,

    I sell small spare parts for hobbyists on eBay. The items are low value, generally small and light and a few items each week are sent abroad, mostly to Australia.

    My question revolves around the definitions of letters and packets with respect to these overseas sales.

    There are three scenarios which in the UK are processed like this...

    1. Flat and thin items, such as washers, can be packed between a sheet of paper and placed in an envelope which is less than 5mm thick. This is sent as a LETTER.

    2. Slightly thicker items (over 5mm and less than 25mm) are protected between two sheets of card, placed in an envelope and sent as a LARGE LETTER.

    3. Fragile items that need a bit more bubble wrap are packed in a thin box (less than 25mm). Although these look more like a packet to me they are sent as a LARGE LETTER.

    However, the situation for items to be sent abroad seems to vary depending who serves me at the Post Office. So, sometimes my letter is sent as a letter and others as a packet. The counter staff have not managed to give me a straight answer regarding definitions and I can find nothing on the Royal Mail website.

    Given Royal Mail’s forthcoming large price increases my 20g ‘letter’ to ‘world zone 2’ could cost £1.28 if accepted as a letter or a whopping £3.30 if it is seen as a small packet.

    Clearly this makes setting P&P within eBay a hazardous task

    Does anyone out there know what the letter/packet definitions are?



    Cheers


    Mick
Page 2
    • ravenjet
    • By ravenjet 13th May 12, 9:28 AM
    • 293 Posts
    • 199 Thanks
    ravenjet
    Complain to Royal Mail and you should get a refund for the difference/book of stamps (plus I bet the PO will know the rules next time.)
    Originally posted by P3dro
    I phoned Royal Mail, they didn't know why the PO did that, they told me to use a different PO next time and gave me the Post Office number to call to complain to.
  • tajima1
    Letter versus Packet
    International letter dimensions


    The above link makes it clear that a letter cannot exceed 5mm depth in the business service description? It says the following:

    A letter is…

    Over the size of 140mm x 90mm.
    Under 245mm x 165mm.
    No more than 5mm thick.
    Less than 100g.

    For personal customers the leaflet in the PO describes letter rates up to 100g and small packet rates of 100g or below (all at one cost for small packets). I can't find any specific description which defines the letter versus the small packet for personal customers in terms of size. Very confusing!!
    Last edited by tajima1; 29-10-2012 at 12:47 PM.
    • Contains Mild Peril
    • By Contains Mild Peril 31st Oct 12, 12:43 AM
    • 4,053 Posts
    • 2,829 Thanks
    Contains Mild Peril
    I sent 2 prints, each a single sheet of paper in an A4 size envelope (which would be large letter size in the UK) one to Italy and one to America, and the assistant at the PO asked what was in the envelopes and insisted they would need to be sent at the Printed Papers rate because they weren't actual letters. That was a different PO from my local one, which will usually send anything that looks like a letter at the letter rate.
    • red-boxer
    • By red-boxer 31st Oct 12, 10:56 AM
    • 292 Posts
    • 367 Thanks
    red-boxer
    Recent rules introduced mean that to send as an overseas letter, the package must contain some form of correspondence, otherwise it has to go as a packet.
    • redmower3
    • By redmower3 31st Oct 12, 8:45 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 21 Thanks
    redmower3
    @redboxer...

    in spite of all the so called authorative advise (and erroneous!)earlier in this thread you are on the right track. The rules you mention have been in place for many years!

    The definitions for post within the UK (letter,large letter, packet) are very different to post send abroad.

    Abroad, a letter is a letter as long as it contains personal correspondance. It does not matter whether it is sent in an envelope or a large lead box.

    If you happen to send an item (ie an ebay sale) together with the letter it is still a letter and if this item is sent beyond the EU then a customs label would be required.

    This is particularly relevant to items under 100g weight where letter rate is lower than packet rate.

    There has been much misinformation on this thread since I asked the original question but thanks to a thread on the ebay boards I was at last able to find a link to the actual rules on the Royal Mail website.

    Obviously, I rid myself of this link a few days ago, but I will endeavour to find it and post it here later

    Have a good evening

    Mick
    • redmower3
    • By redmower3 31st Oct 12, 9:04 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 21 Thanks
    redmower3
    here's the link...

    http://www.royalmail.com/sites/default/files/Overseas%20Letter%20Post%20Scheme%20April%202012.p df

    page 8 defines a letter as..

    "letter" includes any communication in the nature of current and personal correspondence, and also includes a packet transmitted at the letter rate of postage and containing goods or articles of merchandise

    page 41 defines the max size of a letter...

    max weight 2kg
    max Length, breadth and depth: Combined900 mm Length600 mm Breadth600 mm Depth600 mm


    hope this helps

    cheers Mick
    • Pembroke
    • By Pembroke 31st Oct 12, 11:42 PM
    • 811 Posts
    • 559 Thanks
    Pembroke
    One of the Post Offices I use insists that you should write on the outside what type of rate you're using. So every time I send abroad he writes 'Small Packet' on the outside. If you're having trouble with your post office not sending at the rate you want maybe you could do it for them. He insists that it's a requirement but the other office I use doesn't bother. This is especially relevant if you're sending a packet as a letter, or printed paper.
    Last edited by Pembroke; 31-10-2012 at 11:43 PM. Reason: Adding more info
    • martindow
    • By martindow 1st Nov 12, 1:24 PM
    • 7,301 Posts
    • 4,079 Thanks
    martindow
    My local sub PO has recently received information that they must use small packet rate for anything other than letters. Previously they had offered whatever was cheapest.

    They also mentioned that some people who had sent light items at the cheaper letter rate had them returned because of insufficient postage.
  • macfly
    here's the link...

    http://www.royalmail.com/sites/default/files/Overseas%20Letter%20Post%20Scheme%20April%202012.p df

    page 8 defines a letter as..

    "letter" includes any communication in the nature of current and personal correspondence, and also includes a packet transmitted at the letter rate of postage and containing goods or articles of merchandise

    page 41 defines the max size of a letter...

    max weight 2kg
    max Length, breadth and depth: Combined900 mm Length600 mm Breadth600 mm Depth600 mm


    hope this helps

    cheers Mick
    Originally posted by redmower3
    Doesn't really help Mick. You are interpreting it wrongly.
    • redmower3
    • By redmower3 2nd Nov 12, 10:37 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 21 Thanks
    redmower3
    @macfly

    perhaps you could advise where my interpretation is incorrect?

    i believe the cause of problems is that post office staff see anything that is not an envelope as a packet.

    the document i refer to makes it quite clear that a letter can be any size (within certain guidelines) and is a letter as long as it contains correspondance.

    i take a copy of the document i have linked to earlier with me when i visit the post office

    it works for me and I have never had any comeback
    • redmower3
    • By redmower3 10th Nov 12, 3:52 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 21 Thanks
    redmower3
    no reply from macfly
  • tieman
    Just sent a 30gm letter to France on International Signed for service and the regular guy at our local PO tried to convince me that as my letter was printed out rather than being a hand written it should go at the printed paper small packet rate! Fortunately I managed to convince him that a letter with personal correspondence in it is still a letter even if printed, so not charged the extra £1.72 for small packet

    So in reply to many earlier postings, looks like unless you have the official RM details printed out with you per an EP it really is down to how an individual interprets the regs.

    Tieman.
  • gatolt
    The Royal Mail Overseas Letter Post Scheme 2013
    Here is a quotation from The Royal Mail Overseas Letter Post Scheme 2013:
    "6.3....To be sent as a letter the maximum weight must not exceed 100 grams and size must not exceed 245 x 165 mm with a maximum thickness of 5 mm (please note that the
    standard letter sizes quoted here reflect standard international letter dimensions which may be slightly larger than standard UK letter dimensions)."
    However this description stated only for Business customers . Retail customers depends on education of Post Office employees.

    Luckily Post Office employees has very little knowledge about new scheme so we can refer to old OVERSEAS LETTER POST SCHEME 2001 :“letter” includes any communication in the nature of current and personal correspondence, and also includes a packet transmitted at the letter rate of postage and containing goods or articles of merchandise;" In other words if packet up to 100 g contains a personal letter- it's still a letter. So far it works for me...
    • ballisticbrian
    • By ballisticbrian 2nd Sep 13, 8:54 AM
    • 3,168 Posts
    • 1,818 Thanks
    ballisticbrian
    There's no mention of the restrictions other than 100g on the 2013 price list, so until there is a new price list issued, I'm still using letter rate and they all go through ok.
    • campdave
    • By campdave 2nd Sep 13, 9:01 AM
    • 2,175 Posts
    • 1,808 Thanks
    campdave
    The feb 2013 scheme has yet to be implemented - there is a note buried somewhere in the Royal Mail website about it.

    There are rumours on the community ebay site that it contravenes the international postage scheme and cannot be implemented at all, which was why it was not brought in with the April 2013 changes.

    Essentially, I'm with you and continue to post at letter rate until a specific size guide tells me otherwise.
    • ballisticbrian
    • By ballisticbrian 2nd Sep 13, 12:05 PM
    • 3,168 Posts
    • 1,818 Thanks
    ballisticbrian
    When they do eventually bring this in, it will be the final nail in the coffin and end of an affordable international mail service for this country.
    • soolin
    • By soolin 2nd Sep 13, 8:24 PM
    • 59,598 Posts
    • 42,294 Thanks
    soolin
    When they do eventually bring this in, it will be the final nail in the coffin and end of an affordable international mail service for this country.
    Originally posted by ballisticbrian
    If it is ever implemented then a swathe of my bread and butter items will have to be withdrawn from worldwide availability.
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
    • EdiScot
    • By EdiScot 5th Feb 14, 12:14 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    EdiScot
    Small packet less than 100g is priced as letter
    In The Royal Mail Overseas Letter Post Scheme, dated 1st March 2013, available on the Royal Mail website, paragraph 9.1c says
    "The weight and format: for pricing purposes items are classed as either letters or packets as follows: Items which do not exceed 100g in weight and 245mm by 165mm by 5mm in size are deemed to be letters for pricing purposes."

    So, for example, a small packet weighing 20g sent airmail to Europe where the Post Office clerk wanted to charge £3.00 should in fact be 88p. The current "Our Prices" leaflet does not make any of this clear so it's not surprising the Post Office staff are confused.
  • isthatd4
    Customs declaration CN22 makes a letter a parcel?
    Hello, Today I sellotaped an SD card inside a birthday card for my brother in canada, the envelope was size C5, was 4mm thick and weighed 29g. I was told at the post office that because of the SD card a customs declaration sticker (CN22) would be required… fair enough I thought. Then I was informed that putting a customs declaration on a letter makes it a small parcel, so the postage then went up from £1.88 to £3.50, is this correct? Can anyone point me towards the royal mail webpage that explains this, as I can't find one. Thanks.
    • EdiScot
    • By EdiScot 15th Mar 14, 4:11 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    EdiScot
    As a new member, I'm not allowed to give a web link but if you Google "Royal Mail Overseas Letter Post Scheme", you should find it. See paras 9.1c and 6.3.
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