What are our obligations?
Royal Mail has an obligation to deliver mail to every UK address every working day and we go to considerable lengths to deliver to remote and isolated communities across the UK. Whilst we will make every reasonable and practicable effort to deliver mail to every address, no matter how remote, there are a small number of addresses where we are unable to do this due to exceptional circumstances. These addresses are known as exceptions to the delivery universal service obligation (USO). They are permitted by both UK and EU law. Customers can appeal against Royal Mail’s decision not to make a daily delivery to their premises.
In all cases, in order to receive delivery an address must have a safe and suitable delivery point that is clearly identifiable as the delivery point for the address.
What are these exceptional circumstances?
Typical examples include:
- Where the local infrastructure does not allow us to access the address every working day. This may include addresses on some of smaller islands around the UK where there is no daily scheduled ferry or air service.
- Where there is an obstacle making it impossible to gain access to the delivery point at the address. This may include locked gates or doors or entry phone systems that prevent access to the address or where there is no letterbox in place.
- Where access to an address is unsafe for our staff due to short-term health & safety issues. This may include instances where we believe our postmen or women are at risk from attack by people, or dogs, or other animals.
- Where access to an address is unsafe for our staff due to long-term health and safety issues. This may include instances where there’s a poor track to the property or an address is located on the side of a mountain.
- Where an address with private access is not unsafe but is so poor that it takes over a fifteen minute round trip to get to the address (or group of addresses).
What is not an exception?
The following are not usually delivery USO exceptions;
- Where we deliver to a mail-box provided by the customer rather than to the front door of an address.
- Where businesses request no delivery on Saturdays
- Where we fail to deliver due to exceptionally bad weather
- Where we fail to deliver due to industrial action
- One-offs or intermittent delivery failures
Note that we are only obliged to deliver mail to an address, not within an address or to an individual at an address.
What will happen if your address is identified as a delivery USO exception?
Our local delivery manager will contact you to explain the following:
- The reason for the delivery suspension
- What would need to be done so that delivery of the mail could recommence
- What alternative delivery arrangements can be made.
- The appeals process
These processes have been agreed with the postal regulator Ofcom. More information is available on Ofcom's website [www.ofcom.gov.uk].
Download the Royal Mail's delivery exceptions appeals process
What is the 15 minute rule?
A private road or track (including those that are also a public right of way) that has poor access conditions but not so bad as to trigger a health and safety exception can mean that the “15 minute rule” needs to be considered by Royal Mail. The 15 minutes refer to the time taken to do a round trip to the delivery point and back either on foot or by vehicle driving at a safe speed for the conditions. It is impossible to produce a definitive list of what can contribute to this but the following highlights examples of situations that could cause the rule to be implemented. Please note that this list is non-exhaustive and that each case is judged on its own merits. It is also worth bearing in mind that if problems like these are allowed to get worse then delivery may end up being suspended on health and safety grounds, even if the journey time is under fifteen minutes.
- Access roads or tracks with a surface covering which is wearing away or crumbling
- Permanent covering of mud or other debris on the road or track
- Roads or tracks which are rutted
- Pot holes and other obstacles
- Overhanging or overgrowing vegetation that gets in the way of the vehicle
- Foot paths which are slippery or overgrown or which have a poor surface condition
- Sheer drops with little or no protection
- Steep climbs
- Blind bends
- Long narrow stretches with few or no passing places
Should you feel that the 15-minute rule has been incorrectly applied to your address you may request a review from your local Delivery Office Manager.