British Forces Post Offices. We accept mail for BFPO addresses. Mail is normally handled as standard tariff and passed to Royal Mail Retail for end delivery.

Cage card

Also called a consignment note. This is the paperwork we ask you to use on your sorted and unsorted mail consumables when preparing your mail ready for collection.


A very large silver metal cage type container used to store and transport bags or trays/tubs of sorted and unsorted mail. (See also silvers)

Consignment note

See ‘cage card’.


These are containers you use to handover mail to us for collection. They include (but are not limited to) tubs, trays, mail bags, magnums, cages, silvers and yorks.


Also known as the hub. This is our processing facility where your mail is prepared for final handover to Royal Mail’s IMCs for final-mile delivery.

Direct mail

A form of advertising/promotion that allows businesses and non-profit organisations to communicate straight to their customers through mail. Often referred to as DM.


See ‘direct mail’.


Downstream access. This is the terminology applied to all postal operators (such as Citipost Mail) who are handling the upstream part of the postal process and injecting it into Royal Mail’s network (downstream) for delivery by a Royal Mail post person.


This is where we can use alternative trusted partners to perform the final delivery of your mail. This option is only available in certain areas.


Royal Mail’s electronic docketing system through which we tell Royal Mail that we’re handing over mail to them for delivery. The system also generates proof of handover should you need it.

Final mile

Often used to describe the final Royal Mail delivery part of the postal process.


See ‘depot’.


The Royal Mail’s Inward-bound Mail Centres. These are large localised mail centres where we hand over your mail to the Royal Mail for them to deliver.


See also ‘stamp-like indicia’.

This is the pre-paid postal impression at the top righthand corner of the piece of mail. This denotes the supplier handling the postal process and injecting the mail into Royal Mail to deliver the items on behalf of their client. For more information, see our resources section.


See also non-machinable. The tariff and/or format that decides whether your mail can be read by a machine for automated sortation.


A very large plastic container used to store and transport bags or trays/tubs of sorted and unsorted mail.

Mail bag

A standard Royal Mail sack or bag. Use these to bag and tag pre-sorted mail ready for us to collect. They can be used for unsorted mail, but trays are preferable on unsorted services.


See also ‘machinable’. Non-machinable mail is mail that can’t be read by a machine for automated sortation. Instead it needs to be manually handled and sorted. There are many reasons why mail can’t be sorted by machine, including handwritten or incomplete addresses, or unusual weights and sizes.


The postal industry regulator. See the Ofcom website for more information about what they do.


Optical Character Recognition. This is part of a machinable tariff that provides the postal address in a specific format for Royal Mail’s sortation machines. Please see our OCR guidelines in our resources section.


Pricing in proportion. The Royal Mail applies prices to mail depending on its size and weight. We use the same PIP guidelines to define the sizes of letters, large letters and packets.

Stamp-like indicia

See also ‘indicia’. A stamp-like indicia allows you to add a visual to your mailpiece. For example, this could show your branding or support the artwork or message on the outer itself. Please read our stamp-like indicia guidelines in our resources section.

Sorted mail

Mail that you’ve sorted before we collect it. Mail should be pre-sorted as outlined in the Citipost Mail customer guidelines and mailsort files.


A very large silver metal cage type container used to store and transport bags or trays/tubs of sorted and unsorted mail. (See also ‘cages’)


Standard Tariff Letter. An STL usually occurs due to an incorrect or incomplete address, such as a missing or partially missing postcode. Letters like this are processed and sent to Royal Mail as an STL and charged accordingly.

Tray card

Similar to a cage card (or consignment note). A tray card is paperwork placed on every tray of mail which identifies important information about the mail and allows us to process and deliver it accurately. Please note, we use different tray cards for sorted and unsorted mail mail products. If you’re unsure, please ask your account manager for details.

Trays and tubs

These are small, standard, grey Royal Mail trays. They are most often used to present unsorted and sorted mail. Each tray should have the appropriate tray card (depending on whether the mail is sorted or unsorted) and be prepared to our guidelines ready for collection.

Unsorted mail

Any mail that has not been pre-sorted by you prior to collection. The mail will then be sorted, either through our new mail sorter machine or by our experienced and efficient hand sort team. Have a look at our unsorted mail page for more information.


Universal Service Obligation. This is the Royal Mail’s obligation to deliver mail every working day to every UK address. A very small number of exceptions apply to this rule.