Mailroom Services and the History of Franked Mail

Franked Mail

If your company utilises organised mailroom services to send out large volumes of business mail, it is quite likely that you use a mail franking machine. If not, you should think about transitioning to franked mail. A modern mail franking machine can save you money and make your mailroom more efficient.

With all that said, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at modern mailroom services and how these relate to the history of franked mail. In the UK, that history dates back to the 17th century.

Establishment of the Franking Privilege

When Parliament created the General Post Office in 1660, lawmakers also wanted a special form of postage that would guarantee the upper class paid little or nothing to send letters. They came up with what is known as 'franking privilege'. This privilege allowed eligible individuals to simply sign their outgoing pieces of mail to avoid paying standard postal rates. By the start of the 19th century, the General Post Office was losing so much money that lawmakers had to greatly curtail the use of franking privilege.

Modern Mail Franking Categories

Today, franking privilege still exists in some parts of the world, although it is heavily regulated. Franked mail destined for international delivery is governed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), an organisation originally founded in 1874 and brought under the control of the United Nations in 1948.

The UPU recognises four different kinds of franked mail:

  1. Postage Franking – This is the kind of franked mail we are most familiar with. It is designated by some sort of postal mark, be it a printed mark or label.
  2. Franking Privilege – This signifies mail marked with a genuine signature or printed facsimile thereof. It is usually reserved for government officials.
  3. Official Business – The Official Business frank refers to government franked mail sent out for official government business. Marks include some sort of easily recognised government symbol.
  4. Business Reply – Business reply franking affixes a mark to mail that includes a permit number. The entity sending the mail pays a special bulk rate in exchange for the permit.

These different mail franking categories usually only apply to international mail. They may or may not be used for domestic purposes, depending on how a specific country's postal system works.

Are You Sending Franked Mail?

Now that you understand a little bit more about the history of franked mail and its relation to mailroom services, the next question is whether your company is utilising it or not. As previously mentioned, franked mail saves money and makes the mailroom more efficient. There is no good reason to not use franked mail if your company sends out more than a few dozen pieces monthly.

IMS is your franked mail specialist. We carry a full range of franking machines to meet the needs of businesses of every size. We also carry a complete selection of supplies for the mailroom, office, and break room.

Why not contact us and find out what IMS can do for you?