Royal Mail Franking Services: The Solution for Business Mail

The Solution for Business Mail


Standard postal mail remains a very good tool for business, despite the prevalence of online communications. Nothing is better than postal mail for distribution of official business communications, printed marketing materials, and other printed documents requiring safe and efficient delivery.

UK businesses can make use of Royal Mail by paying counter prices for postage and delivery. But there is a better way: Royal Mail's franking services. Franking services from our national postal provider are THE solution for business mail, a solution that takes advantage of the latest technologies for smart and cost-effective mailing.

Franked Mail Means Better Pricing

For many UK businesses, the decision to use franking services comes down to money. Franked mail is decidedly cheaper than stamps and counter service just from the standpoint of pricing. However, a modern franking machine from a well-known solution provider like Pitney Bowes supplied by International Mailing Systems saves even more by creating a more efficient mailroom where technology reduces the amount of time and effort needed to send out business mail.

From a pricing perspective, consider the differences between franked mail and stamp prices, based on prices implemented from 27th March 2017 (note that this pricing comes directly from the Royal Mail pricing wallchart):

UK Standard 1st class letter (100 g) – £0.55 franked: £0.65 stamped

UK Signed 1st class letter (100 g) – £1.65 franked; £1.75 stamped

UK Standard small parcel (1 kg) – £3.12 franked; £4.12 stamped

The difference in pricing makes it obvious that franked mail is a more cost-effective solution. Franked mail prices are based on Royal Mail's Mailmark® programme, and customers must be using a modern franking machine with Mailmark® capability to enjoy the lowest possible pricing.

Royal Mail Encourages Mailmark® Mail Franking

Royal Mail encourages the use of Mailmark® mail franking for business mail because it results in a much more efficient system for them. Appreciating why this is so requires a basic understanding of the history of franked mail in the UK.

Franked mail has been used here since 1660. According to the British Postal Museum & Archive's 'Summary of Post Office History', mail franking was part of the establishment of the General Post Office (GPO) under Charles II. It was designed mainly to provide free mail services for government agencies and aristocrats.

The GPO's mail service eventually became what is now known as Royal Mail, a privately held company offering the public service of mail and parcel delivery. Royal Mail's franking services are no longer exclusively offered as a benefit to Members of Parliament and others with influence. Franked mail is open to any organisation willing to invest in a franking machine, which brings us to the point of efficiency.

The Pitney Bowes/ IMS mail franking machine is a smart machine that removes a lot of the manual labour of processing mail. From Royal Mail's perspective, franked mail can go right from pouch to sorting with very little human intervention. Machine-printed labels virtually eliminate the confusion that might result from hand-written addresses, and modern sorting equipment processes the mail rapidly.

All of this points to a Royal Mail system that works faster, better, and cheaper. It just makes sense for Royal Mail to promote a Mailmark® programme that makes them a better business.

Royal Mail Franking Service Initiatives

In order to encourage businesses to use franking services, Royal Mail has come up with a number of initiatives. The first is the obvious better pricing that franked mail users enjoy. The Mailmark® programme consistently offers the lowest possible prices for Royal Mail as compared to stamps. Furthermore, Royal Mail includes automatic pricing updates that guarantee the best pricing in the future, too.

Additional Royal Mail initiatives include:

Collection Choices – Franked mail customers can either deliver their mail to a local Post Office or set up regular business collection where the Post Office comes to them.

Spend Management – Technology built into modern machines allows for uploading credits online, better department spend management, and total usage tracking.

Printing Capabilities – Machine technology also allows for barcode and logo printing. Printing capabilities add a professional touch and allow information to be embedded in barcodes for extra efficiency.

Machine Maintenance – Royal Mail works with independent distributors like IMS Franking to handle routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs of Mailmark® machines.

Future Products – Lastly, Mailmark® business mail customers enjoy access to future products and services not available to the general public.

Royal Mail and VAT

Some Royal Mail products are VAT exempt while others are not. Business mail customers making use of Mailmark franking machines and services can reclaim any VAT realised from postal purchases as long as they are VAT registered and sell taxable goods or services themselves.

According to Royal Mail, products currently exempt from VAT include the following:

1st and 2nd Class (stamps, online, franking, account)

Special Delivery Guaranteed (stamps and franking)

Royal Mail Signed For (if purchased with a VAT exempt service)

Keepsafe (personal and business)

International Standard, Economy, Signed, and Tracked & Signed

All HM Forces Mail (BFPO).

Royal Mail's list of VAT liable products is much more extensive. It includes things like Guaranteed Mail, Publishing Mail, 1st Class Business Mail, International Business Mail, Business Mail Secure, and more. For a complete list, customers are advised to visit the Royal Mail website.

Reclaiming VAT

VAT registered businesses can reclaim the VAT they have paid on business purchases and expenses, including those incurred while using franked mail services. A claim must be for business activity in order to be valid. If a business wishes to reclaim VAT for mail expenses that involve both personal and business use, only the business use portion can be claimed.

Reclaiming VAT is as simple as providing the necessary information on the VAT return. Such returns are completed and submitted to the government online, but businesses are advised that they are required to keep accurate records in order to substantiate any and all VAT claims. VAT records include records of both sales and purchases and must be kept for a minimum of six years. Businesses are also required to keep a separate summary known as the VAT account and issue correct VAT invoices.

Franking Services in Summary

It is clear that Royal Mail's franking services are the best option for sending business mail. Franked mail saves money by taking advantage of the latest Mailmark® pricing structure. Mail franking also saves time and labour through technology that increases efficiency, improves accuracy, and allows for better tracking of spend and mail delivery.

A modern machine from IMS Franking is key to making the best use of the Mailmark® programme. As an authorised independent inspector and maintainer of franking machines, IMS is proud to carry a complete inventory of machines from major manufacturers like Pitney Bowes.


1.Royal Mail –

2.Postal Museum –

3.Royal Mail –

4.Sources: GOV.UK –

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