Ofcom consults on Royal Mail’s ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme

11 July 2012

Ofcom is today consulting on allowing Royal Mail the freedom to roll out its 'delivery to neighbour' scheme across the UK.

The proposal could offer consumers greater choice for receiving mail when they are not at home.

Ofcom's decision to consult comes after careful consideration of Royal Mail's consumer research following delivery to neighbour trials.

If Ofcom makes these changes to Royal Mail's delivery obligations, the company could leave mail items with a neighbour in the event that consumers are not in to receive them. This would avoid larger postal items, certain items requiring a signature and articles for the blind being returned to a Royal Mail office to await collection, or being redelivered to a local Post Office or to the addressee's home on a later date. Customers who prefer the existing arrangement, however, will be able to opt out of the scheme.

At present, Royal Mail is the only major UK postal company currently not permitted to deliver to a neighbour.

Given the potential benefits to consumers and positive results of recent trials, Ofcom is minded to give Royal Mail this greater commercial freedom in delivery, subject to the consultation and the implementation of certain safeguards.

Greater consumer choice

Royal Mail has made a commitment that consumers will be able to opt out of the scheme, both in relation to delivery of their own items and their receipt of a neighbour's items.

Consumers would alert Royal Mail to their preference by displaying an opt-out sticker, provided free of charge by Royal Mail, in a prominent location at their address.

Royal Mail also proposes to retain liability for all undeliverable items until they are received by the original addressee.

Royal Mail trials

Postcomm, the previous regulator, permitted Royal Mail to conduct trials of the delivery to neighbour scheme, which have been running in a number of areas across the UK since late 2011. Postcomm said that Royal Mail must provide evidence that the scheme would be welcomed by consumers.

Royal Mail research found that 92 per cent of consumers whose items were left with a neighbour expressed overall satisfaction with the experience, while 90 per cent of neighbours who accepted an item were satisfied with the process.

Next Steps

The consultation, which closes on 12 September 2012, can be found here.



  1. Ofcom took over regulation of postal services from Postcomm on 1 October 2011.
  2. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications, wireless communications and postal services.
  3. Where a service required by Designated USP Condition ("DUSP") 1 requires delivery of a postal packet, paragraph 1.2.2 of that Condition lists the methods in which delivery may be effected. DUSP 1.2.1 (c) provides that delivery shall be effected if the postal packet has been delivered to another delivery point approved by Ofcom. Paragraph 4 of Schedule 6 of the Postal Services Act 2011 describes the process to be undertaken where Ofcom proposes to grant a consent affecting the operation of a regulatory condition which includes a period of consultation.