Signing up with the Royal Mail to use its franking system is a serious business and one that demands respect at all times.

That’s because if at any time your franked mail doesn’t meet any of the criteria as laid out in its official “Scheme” (or terms and conditions), your mail won’t be delivered, could possibly be destroyed and at worst your license could be terminated.

In other words it’s all about the presentation.

Here’s a general breakdown of the main protocol to follow…

Get Your Mark Right

First and foremost, your franking mark must be printed in red ink only (unless you are using Cleanmail products which will be blue)

The ink must always meet the technical standards and security standards issued by Royal Mail

A franking mark must always be clear and complete and must appear in the top right hand corner (otherwise Royal Mail, if it deems a mark to not meet its standards, will deal with the letter as if the sender has not paid postage on it)

Ensure any slogans, words, characters, symbols or numbers used within in the franking mark are not of a sort that might be regarded as offensive to Royal Mail (you can check with Royal Mail for guidelines on this)

Posting Your Franked Mail

  • Franked items may only be posted in the area designated by the franking mark (unless otherwise permitted by Royal mail)
  • Franked items must be posted on the date shown in the franking mark
  • Franked items must be presented for posting in trays, bags, pouches and envelopes of a type specified by Royal Mail
  • Trays: segregated by class of postage and service, facing and orientated the same way
  • Bags: each bag segregated and labelled by class and service, in bundles facing and orientated the same way
  • Pouches: segregated by class and service, in bundles facing and orientated the same way
  • Low Volume Posting Envelopes: (a maximum of two per day), each such envelope must be clearly marked on the outside and sealed so it does not disgorge its contents; be of a size that it does not interfere with the processing of other mail; contain no more than 30 franked items
  • Late Posting Envelopes: (maximum of one per day) posted after the last collection from the User for that day and where possible franked items should be impressed with the following day’s date and may be posted in any post box

(*Note – it is always wise to double check with the Royal Mail guidelines for expert advice on franking as every business is unique and individual requirements will differ)

Don’t Fall Foul Of Royal Mail

In general, if you follow the above general guidelines, you will not have a problem sending your franked mail.

However, it’s worth remembering these clauses of the Royal Mail Scheme:

“Letters that Royal Mail are unable to deliver may be destroyed if they do not bear a return address within the United Kingdom.” (Section 13.5)

“Royal Mail has the right to refuse to accept and/or return Letters or other items which have been franked and/or to remove of any Die and/or Device.” (14.1)

“Failure to comply with any provision of any Scheme.” (14.2.1)

“If the User’s Licence has been suspended or terminated.” (14.2.3)

“If Royal Mail withdraws approval from the Model of Franking Equipment.” (14.2.4)


The Royal Mail is a finely-tuned and well-oiled multi-million pound machine with a lot of automation in the postal processing stage. Getting your franking right is important for you and Royal Mail if the system is to flow as well as it can.


Author - Nigel Vaughan

Nigel has over 10 years experience in digital marketing, and loves tech and all kinds of electronics. A keen cyclist and cycle-tourist, he has cycled through 25 countries worldwide.

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