Guidance

British Forces Post Office

Find out about the British Forces Post Office services, how to address mail, BFPO numbers, e-blueys and free mail.

The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) provides a mail service to serving British forces personnel and their families worldwide, including exercises and operations.

The BFPO headquarters is based in a purpose built facility at RAF Northolt, in North West London. BFPO also has a number of defence mail centres at:

  • Andover
  • Aldershot
  • Catterick
  • Colchester
  • Donnington
  • Glasgow
  • Central London
  • Northolt
  • Portsmouth
  • Plymouth
  • Wyton

Mission statement

BFPO is to provide an efficient and effective postal and courier service in order to sustain the fighting power of UK armed forces worldwide.

Announcements

Here you will find the latest issues or messages from BFPO.

Online postage

Customers are reminded that the Royal Mail online postage service is not available from a BFPO location to the UK or international destinations. Online postage expires if the stamp has not entered into the UK postal system by 11:59 pm the next working day after purchase and as such BFPO cannot support/offer this service.

Customers who purchase and use online postage may find the recipient is surcharged before the mail can be delivered. If the recipient refuses to pay the surcharge the mail may become difficult to trace if no senders details are available resulting in the loss of the item. In such cases BFPO cannot pay compensation.

BFPO Track and Trace app issue

Due to an issue with the security settings for the BFPO Track and Trace App an update has had to be released. If anyone is experiencing any difficulties with the App stopping unexpectedly they should delete the App from their device and then re-install it.

BFPO mobile app

The BFPO app is free and easy to use.

BFPO information app

For a long time, BFPO have wanted to get mail information out quickly and efficiently to their large serving customer base and their families. From those in well known locations like Germany, Brunei and the Falkland Islands, and operational theatres, to the deployed ships of the Royal Navy and the global locations of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Supporting service personnel and their families all over the globe is no easy task. The BFPO have had their work cut out to develop the right product. The app was the brainchild of Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Code, who realised there was a real need for this. He was also the wizard behind the design and functionality of the product.

For example, the app can locate all BFPO numbers globally, the user simply inserts the country they are posting to. It lists all British retailers who post products to BFPO addresses and gives a reminder of dangerous air cargo restrictions. It will calculate the cost of your parcel once you enter the size, weight and destination and it even gives final mailing deadlines for important annual dates like Christmas.

The BFPO app, developed by Locassa, is now available at the App Store in iTunes, and on Google play for Android phones.

Please tell us your suggestions for improvements to the app through BFPO enquiries email at desbfpo-enquiries@mod.uk

BFPO Track and Trace App

The British Forces Post Office gets ’appy

Have you ever wondered where your letter or parcel was? The BFPO Track and Trace Smartphone Application could provide the answer.

BFPO track and trace app

At BFPO London mail is automatically sorted using a market leading sortation device and six sided camera boasting the latest OCR software. At each forces Post Office, mail items are also scanned on portable hand scanners and an audit trail is captured on the BFPO’s IT system, PACER 2. Through the development of a Smartphone Application, we can now exploit this functionality to allow individuals to track and trace their own letters and parcels. By entering or scanning a tracking product’s barcode into the BFPO Track and Trace app, it will list and display the route that the item will take, its actual location and it will also show the expected delivery times at each point along the mail pipeline. The app also supports push notifications so you will receive up to date information of where your item is and its expected delivery date.

The BFPO Track and Trace app compliments the recently released BFPO Information app, which allows customers to access up to date information on the most popular range of products and services that the BFPO provides. This app contains a handy postage calculator, advice on permitted items and also lists the latest posting deadlines for key dates. The most recent version of this app also allows you to create a label and barcode, which can be used to track mail items posted from within the UK using the BFPO Track & Trace app. Use of these pre printed labels also alleviates errors in sorting as they are much easier to read.

Android in Google Play Store: BFPO Track and Trace App

Apple in I-Tunes Store: BFPO Track and Trace App

BFPO Track and Trace App
BFPO Track and Trace App

SO1 Technical Support Services, Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Code said, “BFPO is continually developing the range of services it offers to customers and these Smartphone apps represent a real step forward; they are also free to download and use.”

BFPO is also refreshing its existing e-bluey Smartphone app. The current app provides a convenient way of composing and sending e-blueys, in particular picture messages, without having to access a PC; it also means you can take advantage of your smartphone’s speech to text facility. System Manager, Major Mark Lloyd said “with monthly downloads averaging over 70,000 per month, the e-bluey messaging service is extremely popular. Smartphone devices now account for 20% of e-blueys composed and I expect this to rise further with the release of the new and improved app later this year.”

The BFPO Smartphone applications are compatible with both IOS and Android devices and are available for download in the appropriate app Store. Further information on the full range of services provided by the BPFO as well as the list of products that can actually be tracked and traced using the BFPO Track & Trace app can be found at www.gov.uk/british-forces-post-office-services or from the staff at your local FPO.

The BFPO Philatelic Bureau

Responsibility for the forces Philatelic Bureau has been transferred to a new not-for-profit organisation, the British Forces Philatelic Service (BFPS), which has been set up to ensure that our philatelic service survives and thrives. BFPS is a Community Interest Company.

BFPO retains responsibility for philatelic policy.

BFPO mail: How to address mail

It is important that all mail sent through the BFPO system is addressed correctly to ensure a smooth delivery to the destination address. The following information is provided as a guide to the do’s and don’ts when addressing mail to all BFPO numbered locations, including exercises and operations.

Standard address format for service personnel.

Service number, Rank and Name
Unit or Regiment
Operation name (if applicable)
BFPO number

Address format for service personnel dependants.

If the item is meant for someone who is a dependant of a serving member of HM Forces (family), the mail must be addressed to the named person C/O (‘care of’) the service person.

Name
C/O Service number, Rank and Name
Unit or Regiment
Operation name (if applicable)
BFPO number

Address format for non service personnel

Used for someone who is an entitled MOD employee or other official organisation (Teacher for example) and is entitled to use BFPO services.

Staff number (if available) Name
Unit/Department (School name)
Operation Name (If applicable)
BFPO number

Ensure you write a return address on the reverse of the mail item.

Write the address clearly in capital letters, this will aid in the automatic sortation equipment reading the address first time and speed your mail arrival.

How not to address your mail

Do not write any other address details after the BFPO number on the address, as this can lead to mail being diverted to the wrong BFPO location. For example, the following address will lead to the item being redirected to BFPO 12, Belize:

1234567 Pte Joe Bloggs
1st Battalion
Operation Telic
BFPO 641
Op Telic 12

The automatic sortation equipment will read the last line of the address and direct the item to BFPO 12 in Belize.

Do not:

  • include destination country in the address, BFPO numbers are similar to a UK postcode whereby the sortation software simply reads the BFPO number and sorts to the appropriate location
  • use the BFPO headquarters address for onward transmission to the recipient, Royal Mail sortation software will recognise a BFPO address and automatically direct the item to the BFPO sorting office in North London. The item will then be sent to the Returned Letters Branch, if no return address has been supplied the item will be held for a period of 3 months before being destroyed
  • write any other information on the front of the mail item as this can lead to the item not being automatically sorted and will delay the onward transmission to the required destination
  • send items to unnamed individuals eg ‘to a soldier on the front line’, the free post service for Op Kipion/Op Herrick and the yearly Christmas free post service to operations is only available for friends and family of troops serving on operations

The new UK non-geographic post codes are for on-line use only and are not part of the mail address; and therefore should not be used as part of the normal mail address. All UK mail sorting processes are automated and set to only read BFPO numbers; any alteration to the standard address may cause the mail item to be delayed.

BFPO mail: look up BFPO numbers

BFPO numbers are seperated into two areas, the first are issued for HM Ships with the second being issued for all other locations.

Static BFPO numbers

These are used for a given location, and/or group of isolated detachments, and will not move.

HM ships

These BFPO numbers refer to a specific ship or Naval Party, regardless of their location around the world, although some may refer to land-based naval establishments.

Find a BFPO number or postcode.

BFPO location numbers and postcodes

UK postcodes

The Royal Mail has issued special UK postcodes for BFPO numbers that can be used when ordering from UK based websites.

BFPO mail: sending letters and parcels

What it costs by weight

Letter

Length: 240 mm max
Width: 165 mm max
Thickness: 5 mm max

Weight range - Cost* 0-100 g - £0.62

Large letter
Length: 353 mm max
Width: 250 mm max
Thickness: 25 mm max

BFPO size options for letters (PDF, 52.6KB, 1 page)

Weight range Cost*
0 - 100 g £0.93
101 - 250 g £1.24
251 - 500 g £1.65
501 - 750 g £2.38

*Prices effective from 31 March 2014

Small parcels

Can measure up to:

  • Wide - Length: 450 mm x Width: 350 mm x Thickness: 80 mm
  • Deep - Length: 350 mm x Width: 250 mm x Thickness: 160 mm
  • Cylindrical parcels: Length 450mm x Diameter 80mm

BFPO small parcels size options (PDF, 80.6KB, 1 page)

Weight range Cost*
0 - 1000 g £3.20
1001 - 2000 g £5.45

Exceptions apply: The following items are also priced as small parcels:

*Prices effective from 31 March 2014

Medium parcels**

Can measure up to:-

Length: 610 mm x Width: 460 mm x Thickness: 460 mm

BFPO medium parcels size options (PDF, 71.7KB, 1 page)

Weight Cost*
Up to 1 kg £5.65
1.1 kg - 2 kg £8.90
Up to - 5 kg £15.85
5.1 kg - 10 kg £21.90
10.1 kg - 20 kg £33.40

*Prices effective from 31 March 2014.

**The medium parcels service is only available for items from a Forces Post Office.

Compensation services

Letters and small parcels

No fee payable in addition to postage. Compensation up to a maximum of £20 may be paid where it can be shown that a letter was damaged or lost while in the custody of either Royal Mail or the British Forces Postal Service. Customers are to be advised to obtain a Certificate of Posting, which must be produced in the event of loss, in cases where they feel they would wish to claim if the item was lost.

Royal Mail Signed For (formerly Recorded delivery)

Available for all Letter Services (Air and Surface Letters, Small Parcels and Printed Papers) to UK plus to and from BFPO numbered addresses. Prices start from £1.72. Maximum compensation is £50 for loss or damage.

Special delivery (not by surface mail)

This service provides a signature on delivery and compensation cover for valuables. There are 6 weight steps for the sending of ‘special delivery’ to BFPO. These are as laid out on the tables below. The maximum weight that may be sent is 20 kg. Customers may use their own envelope, but items containing money or jewellery must be sent using the Royal Mail Special delivery prepaid envelopes if compensation is to apply for loss or damage. Special delivery does not provide timed delivery, telephone confirmation of delivery or compensation for delay or consequential loss. See table below for compensation available and the cost of the service including postage.

Assess the cost of special delivery

Check the weight of the item to be covered for compensation in the first column and read off the cost in the second column, this includes postage. Affix the correct postage to the item.

Weight (Max) Cover to £500*
100 g £6.40
500 g £7.15
1 kg £8.45
2 kg £11.00
10 kg £26.60
20 kg £41.20

Additional cover can be purchased up to £2,500 at the time of posting.

*Prices effective from 31 March 2014

International signed for

For airmail and surface mail letters, small parcels and printed papers up to 2 kg, available to all International destinations. The fee payable in addition to postage is £5.97, if your ‘International Signed for’ item is lost or damaged; compensation is up to £50. Further compensation is available for £2.50 and gives compensation up to £250 (depending on the country).

Sending tablets/iPads

BFPO are increasingly seeing instances of damaged tablet computers/iPads due to insufficient packaging. Senders are using Jiffy bags and or bubble wrap which is not adequate to protect the screens from damage within the postal system. BFPO will not accept any claims for damaged screens where inadequate packing was used. Senders should where possible use the manufacturers original packaging or as a minimum standard a rigid cardboard box and solid polystyrene foam blocks to cushion against impact and keep the item from moving inside the box.

HM Customs declaration for BFPO

HM Revenue and Customs forms which are required for postal items to and from all BFPOs worldwide are:

Form CN22 - Parcel to be used for goods up to the value of £270 (Inc BFPOs located inside the EU) Form CN23 - Parcel to be used for goods over £270 (Inc BFPOs located inside the EU)

BFPO worldwide parcels

BFPO worldwide parcels are charged at the UK Parcelforce standard rate.

For families and friends of members of HM forces, who post their parcel using postage stamps, the prices shown below are inclusive. However, for commercial users the charge covers the cost of delivery to BFPO only, and the MOD will charge independently for the conveyance from the UK to BFPO addresses.

Weight Cost*
2 kg £8.90
5 kg £11.45
10 kg £13.30
15 kg £19.15
20 kg £23.50
25 kg £33.85
30 kg £37.05

*Prices effective from 31 March 2014

HM forces parcel size and weight limits

All BFPOs (with the exception of HM Ships, Op Herrick and Op Kipion) have a maximum weight: 30 kg per parcel. There are two size limits as follows:

  • Standard size: maximum size: 1.05 mtrs length, 2.00 mtrs length and girth combined
  • Premium size: maximum size: 1.5 mtrs length, 3.00 mtrs length and girth combined

BFPO Parcelforce Worldwide services for HM Forces parcel size options (PDF, 85.1KB, 1 page)

The Premium size service is only available to the following locations:

  • to and from BFPO 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 30, 31, 35, 38, 39, 40, 44, 47, 109, 113, 115 and 140

  • one way service only to BFPO 26, 28, 53, 57, 58, 59 and 567, there is no return premium service from these locations

HM Ships (BFPO’s 200 to 499):

  • maximum weight: 11 kg per parcel
  • maximum size: 1.05 mtrs length, 2.00 mtrs length and girth combined

Op Herrick, Op Kipion and HM Ships in support:

  • No parcel service available. Please refer to the ‘The MOD enduring families free mail service’ for more information.

Compensation services

Compensation for the loss of or damage to parcels up to £100 per parcel is included in the price charged for the BFPO Worldwide service. For the fees shown below customers may increase this cover up to a maximum of £2500 per parcel.

Level Additional Total Cover Cost*
1 £200 £1.80
2 £300 £6.30
3 £400 £10.80
4 £500 £15.30

Every subsequent £100 add £4.50

Compensation is subject to conditions and certain exclusions. If you have any questions contact the Parcelforce Worldwide Enquiry Centre on 08448 00 44 66 or the BFPO Enquiries Team on 08457 69 79 78.

*Prices effective from 31 March 2014

Documentation

All HM forces parcels sent by customers who do not have a business contract with Parcelforce Worldwide must bear a fully completed despatch pack PFU5/CP72 (or replacement) available from your local Post Office branch. Business Commercial customers will be supplied with relevant documentation.

BFPO Mail: Restricted and prohibited items, what you cannot send

General prohibitions and restrictions

The below sets out the requirements that apply to retail customers only.

Restricted goods

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverage type UK destinations International destinations
Alcoholic beverages and liquids (less than 24% ABV), eg beer; ale; cider; fortified wine; champagne Yes Yes
Alcoholic beverages and liquids (24-70% ABV), eg whiskey; vodka; most spirits and liqueurs No No
Alcoholic beverages and liquids (greater than 70% ABV) No No

Volume must not exceed one litre for any one item. The items must be securely closed and placed in a leak-proof liner, like a sealed polythene bag. Surround with absorbent material and sufficient cushioning material to protect each item from breakage. Mark as ‘FRAGILE’ when sending glass bottles.

Alcohol - The consumption of alcohol on operations is strictly controlled and the sending of alcoholic drinks in parcels sent under the MOD funded enduring families free mail service is forbidden. Welfare parcels sent to operational addresses are not to include alcohol of any strength.

Batteries

The table below outlines what type of battery can or cannot be sent:

Battery type UK destinations International destinations
Alkaline, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries, including household AA and AAA Yes Yes
New and used lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries sent with equipment (eg rechargeable batteries sent with equipment but not installed in the equipment) No No
New and used Lithium ion/polymer batteries contained in equipment (eg rechargeable batteries found in electronic devices) Yes Yes
New and used Lithium ion/polymer batteries sent on their own (eg lithium batteries sent as replacements) No No
Lithium metal batteries sent with equipment (eg non-rechargeable batteries found with electronic devices) No No
Lithium metal batteries contained in equipment (eg non-rechargeable batteries found in electronic devices) Yes Yes
New and used Lithium metal batteries sent on their own (eg lithium batteries sent as replacements) No No
New wet, non-spillable batteries (eg sealed lead acid batteries, absorbed glass mat and gel cell batteries) No No
Batteries classified as dangerous goods and certain used batteries that are classified as dangerous goods by the latest edition of the ‘Technical instructions for safe transport of dangerous goods by air published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) including wet spillable lead acid/lead alkaline batteries (including car batteries), lithium batteries when not sent with or inequipment, damaged batteries of any type, together with used alkaline and nickel metal hydride batteries No No

The following details requirements for each battery type that can be sent:

Alkaline, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries: must be new and sent unopened in their original retail packaging. Surround with cushioning material eg bubble wrap. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Lithium ion/polymer batteries contained in equipment: each package must contain no more than four cells or two batteries installed in equipment. The maximum net quantity of cells or batteries is 5kg per package. Watt-hour rating must not exceed 20 Wh per cell or 100 Wh per battery. Each cell and battery must be of a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN ‘Manual of tests and criteria’, Part III, section 38.3. Batteries are subject to these tests irrespective of whether the cells of which they are composed have been so tested. Cells and batteries must be manufactured under a quality management programme as specified in the ICAO ‘Technical instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air’. Cells or batteries that are defective for safety reasons, or that have been damaged, are forbidden.

Any person preparing or offering cells or batteries in equipment for transport must receive adequate instruction on the requirements commensurate with their responsibilities. Cells and batteries must be protected against short circuit. The equipment containing cells or batteries must be packed in strong rigid packaging and must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and packed to prevent accidental activation. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Lithium metal/alloy batteries contained in equipment: each package must contain no more than four cells or two batteries installed in equipment. The maximum net quantity of cells or batteries is 5 kg per package. The lithium content must not be more than 1 g per cell or 2 g per battery. Each cell and battery must be of a type proven to meet the requirements of each test in the UN ‘Manual of tests and criteria’, Part III, section 38.3. Batteries are subject to these tests irrespective of whether the cells of which they are composed have been so tested. Cells and batteries must be manufactured under a quality management programme as specified in the ICAO ‘Technical instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air’. Cells or batteries that are defective for safety reasons, or that have been damaged, are forbidden.

Any person preparing or offering cells or batteries in equipment for transport must receive adequate instruction on the requirements commensurate with their responsibilities. Cells and batteries must be protected against short circuit. The equipment containing cells or batteries must be packed in strong rigid packaging and must be secured against movement within the outer packaging and packed to prevent accidental activation. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Biological Substance

Diagnostic specimens including blood and urine. Category B (UN3373) as classified in the latest edition of the ‘Technical instructions for safe transport of dangerous goods by air’ published by the ICAO. May only be sent by, or at the specific request of, a qualified medical practitioner, registered dental practitioner, veterinary surgeon, registered nurse or a recognised laboratory or institution. The total sample volume/mass in any parcel must not exceed 50 ml /50 g. All biological substances must be posted in packaging that complies with ‘packaging instruction 650’, like the Safebox product. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Infectious Substances assigned to Category B are only permitted for destinations within the United Kingdom.

Financial documents

None of the following can be sent on any Parcelforce Worldwide export service. They can be sent on a Parcelforce Worldwide UK service, however these items are excluded from compensation.

Money: bankers drafts, current bank notes, currency notes or coins, postal orders, cheques or dividend warrants, bearer securities including share warrants, scrips, or subscription certificates, bonds or relative coupons, unfranked postage or revenue stamps, (except a revenue stamp embossed or impressed on an instrument which has been executed); coupons, vouchers, tokens, lottery tickets, scratch cards or similar items which can be exchanged themselves or with any other item for money, goods or services; national insurance stamps; all tickets, including travel and events. Out of circulation coins (not made of Silver or Gold) are classed as collectables.

International export licences and international packaging

Items requiring Parcelforce Worldwide to obtain any special licence or permit for transportation, importation or exportation; or consignments with a declared value for customs in excess of that permitted for the particular destination should not be sent on any international service. Please note: any items that are wet, leaking or emit an odour of any kind cannot be sent on any of our globalexpress services. Any items packaged in Kraft paper cannot be sent via our globalexpress service.

Living creatures

Certain living creatures are accepted only if enclosed in packs constructed so as to prevent injury to Parcelforce Worldwide staff, its agents or damage to other packages.

The following are accepted: bees, destroyers of noxious pests and other insects sent to or from officially recognized institutions, leeches and certain parasites, silkworms.

In addition the following may be sent to destinations in Zones 1 to 3: caterpillars, earthworms, fish fry and eggs, lugworms, maggots, mealworms, pupae and chrysalides and ragworms. To send any of the above, express9, express10, expressAM or express24 services must be used for Zones 1 to 3. No other living creatures are acceptable. No living creatures can be sent through the globalexpress service and to certain destinations on the globalpriority and globalvalue services.

Perishables

Fresh fruit, meat, fish and other perishable articles should be able to withstand transit times of at least 48 hours and must be sent by guaranteed next day service as a minimum requirement within the UK . Packages must be clearly labelled “PERISHABLE”. Packages of fish should be smoked or chilled, and sealed in vacuum packs before consignment. In all cases they must be enclosed in adequate polystyrene containment to prevent contamination. It is the responsibility of the shipper to package all perishable articles in such a manner that during transport within the system the contents are kept at an appropriate temperature that is unlikely to give rise to a risk to health.

Certain international destinations prohibit the import of perishable articles, including perishable and non-perishable foodstuffs. Please check individual country restrictions before sending consignments containing perishable foodstuffs or articles (including plants, flowers, medicines, seeds and other vegetable products intended for further processing) using our globalpriority service. Perishable articles cannot be sent using our globalexpress, globalvalue or globaleconomy services. For more information about service availability, or for country-specific prohibitions, exclusions or licence requirements, please refer to our worldwide directory or ask at a Post Office® branch.

Plants

Live plants may only be sent in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the heading ‘Perishable articles and foodstuffs’ above.

Prescription medicines and drugs sent for scientific purposes

Prescription drugs sent for medical or scientific purposes, for example from a medical practitioner to a hospital, must contain the address and telephone number of the sender in case of non-delivery, so that they may be returned without delay. The properties of these drugs, when classified by the sender, should not meet any of the criteria of the 9 classes of dangerous goods. Drugs in prescription quantities may be sent by private individuals in the case of emergencies. In all cases, the sender’s name, address and telephone number must be included on the inside of the package.

Radioactive materials

Radioactive materials not classified as dangerous goods in the latest edition of the ‘Technical instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air’ published by the ICAO, like samples of granite rock, can be sent to UK and International destinations. Surround with cushioning material eg bubble wrap. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.

Sharp objects and instruments (including scissors and kitchen knives or utensils)

These items may only be posted if they are packaged appropriately so that they do not present a risk to employees, other packages or recipients.

Works of art

Works of art cannot be exported to certain destinations on the globalpriority and globalvalue services and are excluded from compensation for loss and damage with globalexpress although they can be sent using this service.

globalexpress Specific Prohibitions

In addition to the prohibitions and restrictions set out and/or referred to above, the following items must not be sent through the globalexpress service:

  • foodstuffs and perishable food articles and beverages requiring refrigeration or other environmental control
  • plants and plant material, including seeds and cut flowers (cut flowers are acceptable to certain destinations, information available upon request)
  • perishables
  • wet ice (frozen water)
  • items requiring Parcelforce Worldwide to obtain any special licence or permit for transportation, importation or exportation
  • consignments with a declared value for customs in excess of that permitted
  • parcels that are wet, leaking or emit an odour of any kind
  • parcels that are wrapped in kraft paper
  • live animals and insects

In addition to the prohibitions set out above, the following items are excluded from our liability for compensation for globalexpress:

  • artwork, including any work created or developed by the application of skill, taste or creative talent for sale, display or collection. This includes without limitation, items like paintings, drawings, vases, tapestries, limited-edition prints, fine art, statues, sculptures, collector’s items, customised or personalised musical instruments or similar items
  • film, photographic images, including photographic negatives, photographic chromes and photographic slides
  • any commodity that by its inherent nature is particularly susceptible to damage, or the market value of which is particularly variable or difficult to ascertain

Prohibited goods

In the event of Parcelforce Worldwide returning an item to the sender due to contravention of customs regulations for ‘prohibited goods’, the charges will not be refunded and a return charge may apply.

Arms and Ammunition

All firearms including: imitations and antiques; paint-ball or toy guns; taser guns; air rifles, air pistols, components of firearms and all other items similar to, or resembling the foregoing are prohibited. All ammunition (including components thereof) and airgun pellets are also prohibited.

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers are prohibited.

Counterfeit currency

Counterfeit currency and counterfeit stamps are prohibited.

Dangerous Goods

To comply with strict transport regulations and in line with other parcel delivery companies, Parcelforce Worldwide does not carry the majority of goods classified as dangerous in the latest edition of the ICAO’s ‘Technical instructions for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air’. Prohibited dangerous goods include (for example):

  • explosives like fireworks, flares and blasting caps
  • gases including cylinders for camping stoves, gas cartridges, pressurised containers such as aerosols, fire extinguishers and scuba tanks
  • flammable liquids including acetone, benzene, petroleum, lighter fluid, solvent-based paint thinners and removers and many paints, enamels, adhesives, as well as perfumes and aftershaves
  • flammable solids including magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, sodium hydride, zinc powder, fire lighters and matches
  • oxidising materials or organic peroxides, (including many disinfectants, nitrates and hair dyes or colourants containing peroxide)
  • toxic or infectious substances
  • radioactive material
  • corrosives including acids, corrosive paint and rust removers, caustic soda, some dyes, mercury and gallium metal
  • miscellaneous, eg car airbag inflators, dry ice

Unless specifically identified within the ‘restricted goods’ section above, we do not carry dangerous goods and such items are not covered by our compensation. Sending prohibited goods or failing to comply with the conditions which apply to those that are permitted is a criminal offence which may result in prosecution. In such circumstances, Parcelforce Worldwide may deal with the goods as it sees fit, including destroying or disposing of the relevant items.

Damaged batteries

Damaged batteries of any sort and those identified by the manufacturer as being defective for safety reasons are strictly prohibited and must not be sent.

Drugs and certain substances

Controlled drugs and drugs detailed in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (as amended) may not be sent by any Parcelforce Worldwide service. Those discovered in transit will be stopped, and handed to Customs or the Police, who may take legal action against the sender and/or recipient. Examples: cocaine, cannabis resin, LSD, heroin, amyl nitrate, leaves from the Catha Edulia plant, narcotics, morphine, opium, psychotropic substances etc.

Controlled drugs and drugs detailed in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (as amended) may not be sent by any Parcelforce Worldwide service. Those discovered in transit will be stopped and handed to HM Revenue & Customs or the police, who may take legal action against the sender and/or recipient.

Certain other substances which may be prohibited or are illegal to import or export to and from certain countries, or which Parcelforce Worldwide considers to have as having an effect similar to a controlled drug may be deemed as prohibited by Parcelforce Worldwide.

Frozen food

For all international services, foodstuffs and perishable food articles and beverages requiring refrigeration or other environmental control are prohibited.

Foreign and illegal lottery tickets

Foreign and illegal lottery tickets and related advertisments for illegal lotteries are prohibited.

Goods made in foreign prisons

Goods made in foreign prisons (except those imported for a non-commercial purpose) of a kind not manufactured in the UK or those in transit.

Human and animal remains

Human and animal remains (including ashes) are prohibited.

Indecent, obscene or offensive articles

Including pornography as detailed in Part 5 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 and indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child as detailed in section 160 and 161 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Indecent, obscene or offensive communications, prints, photographs, books or other articles, and packets bearing grossly offensive, indecent or obscene words, marks or designs are prohibited. Those discovered in transit will be stopped, and handed to Customs or the Police, who may take legal action against the sender and/or recipient.

Infectious substances

Infectious substances assigned to Category A (UN2814 or UN2900) as classified in the latest edition of the ICAO ‘Technical instructions for safe transport of dangerous goods by air’ are prohibited. Clinical and medical waste, including contaminated dressings, bandages and needles, is prohibited.

Live animals or insects

For all international services live animals (including snakes, mice and reptiles) are prohibited.

Misleading endorsements

Parcels must not bear words, marks or designs which are unauthorised and which may reasonably lead the recipient to believe that the package has been sent On Her Majesty’s Service.

Waste, dirt, filth or refuse

Foul or disgusting material (including household waste) is prohibited.

Wet ice (frozen water)

BFPO mail: sending commercial mail

Commercial mail is mailed items that are sent through the HQ BFPO mail system by a UK-based commercial operator in response to an order placed by an authorised individual.

Ordering goods through the BFPO Commercial Mail system

The following individuals can use the system:

  • British forces personnel
  • entitled civilians
  • dependants of the above

These ‘end customers’ based at a BFPO address, can arrange to receive goods via a UK based Commercial Operator, which is categorised by BFPO (the Authority) as ‘Commercial Mail’ (also known as ‘Commercial Receipts’). Family and friends (living in the UK) of the above can also arrange for ‘Commercial Mail’ to be received by end customers. For example, end customers based at a BFPO address, or family and friends (living in the UK), will directly contact a mail order or catalogue company, possibly via the Internet, to place an order for goods for delivery to a BFPO address.

Check the commercial contracts list of companies already in direct contract with HQ BFPO under the ‘Commercial Mail’ process.

All potential users of the BFPO Commercial Mail system are strongly advised to read both the disclaimer and additional information.

Disclaimer:

The Authority does not endorse any company that appears on the BFPO Commercial Contracts List, in any way whatsoever, including any product(s) or service(s) they offer.

Individuals who make use of these companies do so entirely at their own risk.

Individuals are to be aware that there may be other companies, not appearing on the BFPO Commercial Contracts List, who may be able to offer the same, or similar product(s) or service(s).

Should you choose to order from a company not appearing on the BFPO Commercial Contracts List, they will be required to adhere to one of the following processes;

Once a company has received an order from an Authorised Individual, they can despatch articles of Commercial Mail to End Customers at worldwide BFPO locations, via the HQ BFPO Northolt Commercial Mail (CM) System, by following one of the four following options:

  1. Companies who foresee a potential ‘one off’, or infrequent use of the BFPO CM System can either;

a. Physically post the article at a Post Office and pay the appropriate (HM forces) postage rate (note: using either Royal Mail documentation (CN22/23) or ParcelForce Worldwide PFU 509 despatch pack). Payment for this method allows for both the shipment to HQ BFPO Northolt and the onward shipment to the BFPO End Customer, with no additional requirement for a direct CM Contract with BFPO, or any extra costs incurred.

or

b. Use the arrangement BFPO has with Parcelforce Worldwide*, named the ‘One Stop Shop’ Process. Under this process, Companies contract directly with ParcelForce Worldwide (see below for contact details), who, in turn, are in direct CM Contract with BFPO. Payment for this method also allows for both the shipment to HQ BFPO Northolt and the onward shipment to the BFPO End Customer, with no additional requirement for a direct CM Contract with BFPO, or any extra costs incurred.

*NOTE: Many Companies are already in direct contract with ParcelForce for collections of goods direct from their premises for addresses in the UK mainland only. This does not allow for the correct documentation or onward shipment (and extra cost) for despatch from HQ BFPO Northolt to the BFPO End Customer. We recommend that you speak to your Parcelforce representative for further information.

or

c. Use any CM Contract BFPO may have with other Courier Companies who have chosen to be in direct CM Contract with BFPO. Under this process, companies contract directly with the courier company on the list who, in turn, is in direct CM Contract with BFPO. Payment for this method is made direct to the courier company, who are themselves invoiced by BFPO. This allows for both the shipment to HQ BFPO Northolt and the onward shipment to the BFPO End Customer, with no additional requirement for a direct CM Contract with BFPO, or any extra costs incurred.

  1. Companies who foresee potential frequent use of the BFPO CM System enter into a CM Contract directly with BFPO Commercial (see below for contact details), for the onward shipment by BFPO to the BFPO End Customer, with prior use of either your company’s own transport or a carrier of your company’s choice for the inland journey to deliver articles to HQ BFPO Northolt.

Additional Information

All potential users of the HQ BFPO Commercial Mail System must read the rules on mail prohibitions and restrictions.

Adhere without exclusion to the weight and size restrictions that apply to ‘Commercial Mail’.

Note that articles outside of these maximum weight and size restrictions will be refused upon entry at the HQ BFPO Commercial Mail reception desk.

Note that Purchase Order numbers cannot be accommodated under the electronic Invoicing process that supports the automated BFPO Commercial Mail System and will therefore not appear on any invoice issued by the Defence Business Service, Liverpool

Note that HQ BFPO will not enter into any compensation arrangements with, or make any direct compensation payments to, any third party who use a company that is itself already in direct Commercial Mail Contract with BFPO to despatch their articles to HQ BFPO Northolt and beyond, to end BFPO addresses overseas. BFPO’s responsibility and authority remains within the Commercial Mail Contract with the Company in possession of a Commercial Mail Contract with HQ BFPO only. Any arrangement between the third party and the company in possession of a ‘Commercial Mail’ contract with BFPO, regarding the despatch of the third party’s articles to HQ BFPO Northolt and beyond, is entirely the concern of those two parties only. HQ BFPO bears no responsibility, authority or commitment in that relationship, as its contractual relationship is with the Company in possession of a ‘Commercial Mail’ Contract with HQ BFPO only

Note that BFPO offers a very limited service for items destined for 5000 series BFPO numbers, one that does not offer any delivery guarantees or compensation coverage. This is due to the fact that once items have reached HQ BFPO for processing, they are then passed to a separate, 3rd party for subsequent processing and distribution, who operate very strict controls on mail volume allocations and types of items allowed. This places the items totally outside of BFPO’s control, therefore no assurance as to final delivery timeframes can be given and BFPO does not accept liability for compensation in the event of any item(s) going missing. Should the 3rd party, for whatever reason, refuse to accept any item upon presentation by HQ BFPO, then the Sender shall be notified by BFPO and be responsible for its collection from BFPO, or, BFPO will return the item back to the sender, at the sender’s cost (the 3rd party, responsible for onward processing and distribution, may be contacted on 01908 8522222 - Option 3).

Contacts

For enquiries connected with an individual article or despatch, please contact:

BFPO Enquiries
HQ BFPO
West End Road
Ruislip
HA4 6DQ

Telephone: 0208 589 3450
Fax: 0208 589 3309

For details regarding a direct Commercial Receipts Contract with BFPO and all other contractual enquiries only, please contact:

Commercial Manager 4
BFPO Commercial
HQ BFPO
West End Road
Ruislip
HA4 6DQ

Tel: 0208 589 3277
Fax: 0208 589 3454

Email: DESBFPO-Enquiries@mod.uk

For ‘one stop shop’ process enquires, please contact:

ParcelForce Worldwide
Lytham House
29 Caldecotte Lake Drive
Caldecotte
Milton Keynes
MK7 8LE

Tel: 01908 687444
Fax: 01908 687047

E-bluey

What is an e-bluey?

When British forces are deployed on operations they are entitled to free aerogrammes (colloquially known as ‘blueys’ because of their colour) to and from their families and friends. This service has been in place for a considerable time. Blueys as we know them today were issued for the first time during the early days of the Northern Ireland deployment. More recently BFPO, working in conjunction with SuperLetter.com, has pioneered an electronic form of the bluey known as ‘e-bluey’.

In the autumn of 1999, the SuperLetter Team was approached by the British Forces Post Office (BFPO) to discuss using the service to replace an existing hybrid mail service called e-bluey. They provided the software that greatly enhanced the existing system. After the launch, the service began to gain a loyal following and increasing popularity and in 2001 won the World Mail Award for Hybrid Mail Technology, beating major entries from USPS and DHL. The first “war time” test of the system was during initial deployment to Bosnia, where the system proved itself as rugged, dependable and effective.

Today e-bluey is considered an extremely important communications service for British forces and their Family and Friends and continues to expand its reach and capabilities. Averaging a million visitors annually, e-bluey now accounts for over 80% of the letters sent between British forces and their family and friends on operations.

Who can use e-bluey?

Under the British Ministry of Defence regulations, family and friends anywhere in the world can send e-blueys to British forces personnel serving in any operational theatre. And British forces personnel in operational theatres around the globe can send e-blueys to family and friends in the UK or to non-operational BFPO locations. Plus with the introduction of fax-bluey, photo-bluey, e-bluey2email and fax2email, those serving on operations are now able to correspond to family and friends anywhere in the world.

To sign up or log in visit: https://www.ebluey.com

How does e-bluey work?

You can either compose your message online or offline using a word processor which can be obtained from the e-bluey account. This message is sent to the e-bluey server, where prior to being down-loaded by the Forces Post Office (FPO) in the appropriate operational theatre, or by BFPO Northolt Defence Mail Centre for e-blueys and fax-blueys addressed to the UK. Additionally, you can download the e-bluey smart phone application, which will enable you to send e-blueys from anywhere in the world, providing there is a mobile phone service in place.

Mobile satellites provide secure communications in most operational theatres. It is then printed and pressure sealed before being passed into the local BFPO/RM mail stream. The system is private and personal as the text is only seen by the originator and the recipient; there are two stages of encryption to ensure that the message remains private and personal. The time of transmission of a letter to a serviceman/woman can be dramatically reduced, as it is not necessary to physically transport the letter through the military mail system.

To send an e-bluey, users only need internet access and an e-bluey account created at www.ebluey.com. Once the account is created and the necessary sender details are entered, an address book is created to store recipient information. Once stored, this information enables users to log into their accounts and compose and send e-blueys.

How can I add a photo to an e-bluey?

Photo-bluey is a feature within e-bluey that allows you to insert a photo, either colour or black and white, at the top of an e-bluey. The photo to be inserted must be on your computer and can be any size. However the area available on an e-bluey to insert the photo is limited to 185 mm wide x 115 mm high (7.2 x 4.5 inches or 700 x 434 pixels).

Photos smaller than this will be printed actual size, whilst photos larger will be automatically reduced proportionally to fit as closely to the 185 mm x 115 mm area. Please remember that the larger the photo the longer it will take to upload to the e-bluey server, so please be patient when you are uploading large photos.

E-bluey2email

E-bluey2email is basically the same as sending an e-bluey, however using this service allows the sender to send an e-bluey directly to the recipient’s email address, rather than using the traditional mail delivery service.

Fax-bluey

How fax-bluey works

Fax-bluey is basically the same as an e-bluey; however it allows the sender to send an e-bluey in your own handwriting instead of using a computer.

To use the fax-bluey service:

  • obtain a pre printed form from your Unit Post Orderly, FPO or Hive personnel
  • write your letter in the large box starting from the top of the form
  • write clearly and in large capital letters, print the name and address of the person you are writing to in the ‘to’ box at the bottom of the form
  • write your own name and address in the ‘from’ box
  • when you have completed your letter, take it to your nearest fax-scanner location to be scanned in and sent to the e-bluey server

Once loaded onto the server your letter then follows the same procedure as a normal e-bluey.

Fax2email

Fax2email is virtually the same as fax-bluey, except that in the ‘email address box’ you must write clearly and in large capital letters, print the e-mail address of the person to whom you are writing.

The MOD enduring families free mail service (EFFMS)

The MOD enduring families free mail service has been authorised for Op Herrick, Op Kipion and HM Ships in support. This service will operate until further notice.

Families and friends in UK and BFPOs can send packets up to 2 kg in weight, free of charge, to Service personnel only on Op Herrick, Op Kipion and HM Ships in support.

Essential information

Packets are limited to 2 kg in weight.

Size limits: Minimum one surface at least 90 mm x 140 mm. Maximum length + depth + width = 900 mm width greatest single dimension not more than 600 mm.

Only relatives and friends within the UK or at BFPO addresses can send packets to named Service personnel and MOD deployed civilians only, in authorised operational areas.

The following items should not be sent (please also check ‘mail prohibitions’):

  • aerosols: prohibited by the BFPO mail network, eg hairspray, deodorant
  • perishable goods: foods like fruit and meat
  • fragile Items: glass
  • magazines containing images that might offend the cultural values of host nations, even if they are widely available in the UK, eg ‘top shelf’ magazines

Alcohol: Booze and bullets do not mix! The consumption of alcohol on operations is strictly controlled and the sending of alcoholic drinks in parcels sent under the MoD funded Enduring Families Free Mail Service is forbidden. Welfare parcels sent to operational addresses are not to include alcohol of any strength. Following screening at BFPO any parcels thought to contain alcohol will have a sticker identifying them applied. Controlled delivery of such parcels will enable checks in Theatre leading to confiscation or where incidences represent blatant contravention of local standing orders it could render the recipient liable for disciplinary action.

Customers posting items under the The MOD enduring families free mail service must ensure that these items are physically handed over to a counter clerk at a UK Post Office or BFPO overseas.

Note 1: There is NO Parcel service to Op Herrick, Op Kipion and HM Ships in support, however small boxes (shoe box size is ideal) can be sent as long as they weigh no more than 2 kgs.

Note 2: This service is one-way only from the UK/BFPOs to Operational BFPOs or HM Ships in support.

Addressing your ‘MOD enduring families free mail service’ items

Service Number, Rank, Name
Unit/Regiment
Operation Name
BFPO number

Please be advised that town or country must not be included in the address.

BFPOs included in the MOD enduring families free mail service

BFPOs that are authorised to receive items under the service:

  • Op Herrick: BFPOs 715, 755, 758, 759, 764, 772, 779, 792, 793, 796, 798
  • Op Kipion: BFPOs 632, 639, 767
  • Op Newcombe: BFPOs 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 607, 608, 609
  • Op Backwell: BFPO 617
  • HMS Astute: BFPO 214 (Ongoing)
  • HMS Atherstone: BFPO 215 (Ongoing)
  • HMS Diamond: BFPO 273 (Ongoing)
  • HMS Echo: BFPO 275 (Ongoing)
  • HMS Quorn: BFPO 366 (Until 8 Aug 2014)
  • HMS Ramsey: BFPO 368 (Until 8 Aug 2014)
  • HMS Shoreham: BFPO 386 (Ongoing)
  • HMS Somerset: BFPO 395 (Ongoing)
  • HMS Tireless: BFPO 402 (Until 28 April 2014)
  • RFA Wave Ruler: BFPO 431 (Ongoing)
  • RFA Cardigan Bay: BFPO 436 (Ongoing)
  • RFA Diligence: BFPO 438 (Ongoing)
  • RFA Fort Austin: BFPO 439 (Ongoing)
  • Op Atalanta: BFPO 497 (Ongoing)

If you would like further clarification of entitled BFPO locations, please contact the BFPO Enquiries Team on Telephone: 08457 69 79 78

Forces Free Air Letters (FFALs)

FFALs, commonly known as ‘Blueys’, can be posted in a standard postbox in the UK or a BFPO postbox overseas. HM Forces Aerogrammes (blueys) are an all in one letter and envelope. They are available from all UK Post Office branches or BFPOs and may be sent free of charge to forces personnel on operational duty at the following BFPO addresses:

214, 215, 221, 241, 255, 273, 275, 361, 366, 367, 368, 386, 395, 402, 431, 432, 435, 436, 438, 439, 485, 496, 497, 567, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606, 607, 608, 609, 614, 615, 617, 632, 639, 651, 655, 715, 755, 758, 759, 764, 767, 772, 779, 792, 793, 796, 798.

Note 1: FFALs are not to include enclosures of any kind.

Note 2: FFALs sent to BFPO addresses not listed above must be paid for at normal postage rates.

Special delivery

If you wish to send an item using the Royal Mail special delivery service, please note that the The MOD enduring families free mail service does not apply, and full postage rates will need to be affixed to the item.

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