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Royal Mail return address guidance

When you opt to run a direct mail campaign, your first contact with your targeted audience is when the envelope drops through their letterbox onto the doormat. With this in mind, the envelope must set the standard for its content.

The locations of certain parts of an addressed envelope are common knowledge, like the location of the recipient's address. However, many people either need clarification or are unsure where to locate the return address and what to include, should there be the need for one.

Royal Mail has produced an in-depth document titled 'A guide for letter envelope design and clear addressing'. Within this guide, Royal Mail recommends that a valid UK return address be applied to all mail sent out. However, it's more than just a simple case of adding 'Sender' and your business address and postcode. We've taken the key information from this document and put it into the below guide to help you ensure future mailing items' return addresses are printed correctly, so if they fail to reach the addressee, they should have a greater chance of being returned.

When a return address is applied to the mail piece, it must comply with the following requirements:

1. The content of the return address must follow the delivery address structure as per the following example:

Return Address:

Ciconi Ltd
10A Warboys Airfield Industrial Estate
Warboys
Huntingdon
PE28 2SH

2. The first line must identify the address as a return address with the words 'Return Address'. It is also acceptable to use 'If undelivered please return to:' if you prefer.

3. The most cost-effective location for a return address is the top left corner of the envelope's face. The basic guidelines for the printed return address are:

  • Less than 75mm from the right edge

  • Extend no lower than 28mm from the top edge of the envelope

  • No closer than 12mm to the delivery address

It is also acceptable for the return address to be placed centrally on the reverse of the mail piece. This should be within a zone extending no more than 40mm from the top of the envelope, which is generally on the envelope's closure flap.

4. The preferred colour for printing the return address is black. If this is not possible, then adequate contrast must be achieved. Negative contrast is not allowed, and the characters must not be blurred, smudged, deformed or incomplete, with no splashing or ink splatter.

Click here to read the full guide on Royal Mail's website

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