Worried you’ve left it too late to post a card or present to a loved one in time for Christmas? Well, yes 2022 has been an exceptional year with postal strikes throwing the festive delivery system into chaos. What's more, further strikes are planned for 23 and 24 December, which Royal Mail warns are 'likely' to cause further 'disruption'.
But although you’ve missed the standard festive postal deadline, all is not lost. If you’re prepared to pay a bit extra, you can send items today (Monday 19 December) using special services such as Royal Mail Tracked 24 delivery or if you're really last-minute, you can use the Special Delivery Guaranteed service, right up until Wednesday 21 December.
Do note: Royal Mail Tracked 24 is only available to book online (not at Post Office branches) and aims to deliver your item by the next day (i.e. within 24 hours).
So what will it cost you? Here are a couple of examples to help you decide if it’s worth paying for:
A large letter weighing up to 750g would cost you £3.30 with Tracked 24 delivery (rising to £4.14 if you'd like a signature on receipt).
A small parcel weighing 2kg would cost you £3.95 with Tracked 24 delivery (rising to £4.31 with signature required).
A medium parcel weighing 20kg would cost you £11.95 with Tracked 24 delivery (rising to £12.31 with signature).
Check out the Royal Mail website to see exact parcel measurements and look for promotional offers.
If you’re looking for gold-star, super-speedy postage, then you may want to consider Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed service, which aims to deliver by 1pm the next day. This includes compensation cover of up to £500-£2,500 (depending on how much insurance you’re looking for), whereas Tracked 24 delivery only includes compensation cover of up to £100.
To help you decide just how much that package matters to you, here are some cost examples:
A 100g package would cost you £6.35 if you book Special Delivery Guaranteed postage online (compared with £6.85 if book it at a post office counter) with compensation of up to £500.
A 20kg package would set you back £18.45 online (compared to £19.45 at the post office counter) with insurance of up to £500.
Still hoping to send festive greetings and gifts abroad? Parcel Force Worldwide services are now your only option. Check website for details of last posting dates which will vary depending on the destination.
Watch: People shouldn't turn on Christmas lights this year, GMB guest says
This year is especially poignant as back in November Royal Mail released a Christmas stamp collection featuring the Queen’s silhouette for the final time.
The set of six Art Deco-style stamps focuses on key moments from the Nativity story, with each bearing an outline of the late monarch for the last time in more than 50 years.
Designed by Arnold Machin, the distinctive silhouette of the Queen’s profile facing left and wearing the Diamond Diadem has appeared on festive stamps since 1967, according to the Postal Museum.
Royal Mail’s colourful Christmas 2022 first and second-class stamp collection was designed by Kent-based artist Katie Ponder.
They depict key images from the Nativity story, including the journey to Bethlehem and the Magi being guided by the star.
Each stamp also bears a barcode which customers can scan via the Royal Mail app to watch a festive video of Shaun the Sheep, created by Aardman Studios.
Commenting on the release at the time Royal Mail policy director David Gold said: “Our Christmas stamp issue is always much anticipated, and it is one we particularly look forward to.
“The charming style of these designs sets the perfect tone for the festive season.”
While it is the last time the Queen’s silhouette will feature on a Christmas collection, there are stamps to be issued over the coming months, approved by Her Majesty, which will still display her silhouette.
Additional reporting PA.