Last Christmas post and online order dates 2014

No collections or deliveries on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day

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The Independent Online

Royal Mail has published the Christmas delivery guidelines to ensure cards and gifts arrive on time.

Gift-givers and online shoppers can now schedule their posting and delivery dates against the timetable published by the firm, which is expected to be snowed under with parcels, as they handled 115 million of them last December.

Second class post for UK inland destinations need to be sent by 18 December, first class by the 20th and Special Delivery by the 23d, which gives exactly two months until the last services before the festive period.

Royal Mail have also urged customers to clearly address items as around 10 million parcels were delivered on the busiest day last Christmas and processing is quicker when the labels can be read by scanning machines.

Post will be delivered normally right to Christmas Eve with no post collections or deliveries on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day, before services resume from 27 December to the 31st.

Those who like to shop in Boxing Day online sales will need to keep in mind that there will be no collections or deliveries on New Year's Day.

The guide published by Royal Mail with Christmas delivery and collection deadlines

A Royal Mail spokesman, said: “As we do every year, we encourage our customers to post their Christmas cards early so that people can enjoy them for longer and it allows us to spread the busy workload.”

International surface mail deadlines range from 29 September to 18 November depending on the destination with the earliest dates for Asia and New Zealand.

Last dates for faster international airmail services will range from 3 December for Asia and New Zealand to 13 December for Western Europe.