19 January 2022

Update on Royal Mail delivery delays

There have been recent news reports of delays for deliveries from Royal Mail, with some people receiving their post much later than expected.

We know how important a reliable postal service is to customers, and we can take action if Royal Mail fails to meet the annual targets we set for its performance.

As the regulator for Royal Mail, we’re concerned about these delays and have made it clear to Royal Mail that it must take steps to improve its performance as the effects of the pandemic subside.

Ofcom has a number of responsibilities relating to post.

Part of our remit is to secure the universal postal service, which is set out in legislation agreed by Parliament. This requires Royal Mail to deliver letters six days a week (Monday to Saturday) and parcels five days a week (Monday to Friday) to every address in the UK, at a uniform price.

As the universal service provider, Royal Mail is subject to more regulation than other postal operators. For example, we impose a price cap on second-class stamps to help ensure postal services are affordable. We also set strict annual delivery targets.

These targets require Royal Mail to deliver at least 93% of first-class post – across the UK – within one working day of collection, and 98.5% of second-class post within three working days, over the whole financial year.

We assess Royal Mail’s performance against these targets for each financial year – looking at how it has performed over the year as a whole. In the past, we’ve taken action against Royal Mail when it has fallen short of these targets. For example, in 2020 we fined Royal Mail £1.5m for missing its 2018/19 delivery target. We are preparing to review Royal Mail’s performance for the current 2021/22 financial year and, if appropriate, we will not hesitate to take action where necessary.

Royal Mail should deliver at least


of first-class post within one working day of collection

We also gather additional data to help us monitor Royal Mail’s service performance. For example, we receive information relating to regional delivery performance. This monitoring work has intensified during the pandemic, as set out in our Annual Monitoring Update (PDF, 1.1 MB).


Clearly the Covid-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for many businesses, including Royal Mail. At the start of the pandemic, we recognised this was an emergency situation which meant Royal Mail could change its operations to manage the challenges it faced, without the need for formal Ofcom authorisation. However, this period ended on 31 August 2021 and we no longer consider this to be an emergency period in terms of Royal Mail’s requirements to meet its delivery targets.

At the moment, Royal Mail is experiencing issues at a number of their delivery offices. More information, including the reasons for these issues, is available on their website. This is due, in part, to the impact of the more recent Omicron variant on their operations. We understand that Royal Mail is taking a number of steps, including rotating deliveries to minimise the delay to individual customers, and is providing targeted support to affected offices to ensure service performance improves.

Complaints handling

Although Ofcom does not investigate individual complaints, we require Royal Mail to have effective complaints handling procedures and to provide redress where appropriate. You should first complain to Royal Mail directly so that your complaint can be logged and investigated. If no resolution is reached and if appropriate, follow the Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme (ADR) managed by the Postal Redress Service (POSTRS). Help on how to make a complaint is available on Royal Mail’s website.

Related content