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Christmas postal dates: When are the Royal Mail deadlines for sending cards and packages?

If you're posting greetings, gifts or letters to Santa, here's what you need to know

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 10 December 2018 17:04 GMT
Time is fast running out to send your festive post
Time is fast running out to send your festive post (PA)

Christmas is unquestionably the busiest time of the year for Britain's hard-working postmen and women.

If you are sending cards and presents this year, you'll need to be organised to ensure they arrive on cue for 25 December. You will find all the key dates you need to know below.

But first, a little festive trivia. Did you know that Britain's iconic red pillar box was first introduced in 1852 at the suggestion of Anthony Trollope, the esteemed Victorian novelist? Working as a surveyor for the British Post Office, the author of the Barchester novels was sent to the continent to observe the delivery systems there and returned with the suggestion for slot mail boxes available to the public.

Trialled in the Channel Islands – the idea was a hit and brought to the mainland a year later – the cast-iron boxes were originally a discreet shade of camouflage green before turning Royal Mail red in 1874.

When are the last posting dates for Christmas 2018 in the UK?

The Royal Mail advises that the following dates are your last opportunities to send letters and packages this year

  • Tuesday 18 December for second class mail
  • Thursday 20 December for first class mail
  • Saturday 22 December for special delivery

After that, be warned: there will be no delivery and collection service from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.

When are the last posting dates abroad this year?

If you're sending items overseas, several of the advised dates recommended by International Standard (formerly known as Airmail) have already passed.

Deliveries to Africa and the Middle East needed to be sent by 4 December, packages to Asia and the Far East, Cyprus, Malta and Eastern Europe had to go by 7 December and to the Caribbean and Latin America by 8 December.

That's not to say items sent after those dates will not make it in time for Christmas Day, only that their arrival can no longer be guaranteed.

Parcels being sent to Greece, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand new to go out on 10 December but, for other destinations, there's still a little more time:

  • Friday 14 December for Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Canada and the US
  • Saturday 15 December for Finland and Sweden
  • Monday 17 December for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland and Spain
  • Tuesday 18 December for Belgium, France, Ireland and Luxembourg

How can I send a letter to Father Christmas?

The good folks at Royal Mail allow children to send their Christmas wish list to Santa for free.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

The address you need to send your letters to is: Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland XM4 5HQ.

Remember to give a full name and address so St Nick can write back.

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