Ofcom allows Royal Mail’s ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme

27 September 2012

Ofcom today gave approval for Royal Mail to roll out its 'delivery to neighbour' scheme across the UK.1

This will allow Royal Mail to leave certain mail items2 with a neighbour in the event that consumers are not at home to receive them themselves, although an addressee may choose to opt-out of the scheme.

The decision follows consideration of consultation responses and the positive results from trials of the scheme, covering 748,000 addresses in six areas across the UK.3

The new scheme will reduce the need for consumers to collect items from Royal Mail delivery offices or Post Offices, or for items to be re-delivered when addressees are not at home to receive them first time.

Ofcom's decision brings Royal Mail in line with other UK postal operators who are already able to leave items with neighbours as part of their standard delivery practice.

The scheme in practice

The 'delivery to neighbour' scheme should help meet increasing consumer need for easier ways to receive certain items requiring a signature and parcels, if the person is not at home when the postman tries to deliver.

Royal Mail will retain liability for all undeliverable items until they are received by the addressee.

Royal Mail will also enable addressees to opt out of the scheme should they wish, both in relation to delivery of their own items and their receipt of a neighbour's items.

Consumers can alert Royal Mail to their preference to opt-out by displaying a free opt-out sticker (available from Royal Mail) near their letterbox.

Ongoing monitoring

In light of stakeholder responses to its consultation, Ofcom will monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the service closely, including the level of consumer complaints. If any issues are identified following the nationwide roll-out of the 'delivery to neighbour' scheme, Ofcom is able to investigate the operation of the service.

In recognition of the concerns expressed by some individual respondents about the use of stickers to opt-out from the 'delivery to neighbour' scheme, Ofcom will ask Royal Mail to explore the use of alternatives to the opt-out sticker in the future.

For example, Royal Mail can look at ways of identifying an opt-out address electronically or by less visible means.



  1. Royal Mail is only permitted to deliver postal packets to certain points specified in the Postal Services (Universal Postal Service) Order 2012 ("the Order") and Designated USP ("DUSP") Condition 1.2.2. That list does not currently include the premises neighbouring the addressee of a postal item. Section 4(c) of the Order does however provide that an item may be delivered to another delivery point approved by Ofcom. Ofcom may give such an approval if it has followed the process set out at paragraph 4 of Schedule 6 to the Postal Services Act 2011. Having taken into account all of the representations made to us, and in light of our statutory duties, for the reasons set out in the statement Ofcom has decided to approve the neighbouring premises of an addressee as a delivery point for the purposes of section 4(c) of the Order and paragraph (c) of DUSP Condition 1.2.2.
  2. First Class without and with Recorded Signed For™, Second Class without and with Recorded Signed For™, Standard Parcels (above 1kg), Articles for the Blind and International (Non-Signed For).
  3. The Royal Mail trial of Delivery to Neighbour found that delivery convenience was improved for consumers, with 92 per cent of people whose items were left with a neighbour expressing overall satisfaction with the experience. 90 per cent of neighbours who accepted an item were also satisfied with the process and the levels of complaints were very low.
  4. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications, wireless communications and postal services. Ofcom took over regulation of postal services from Postcomm on 1 October 2011.