Explaining printed Freepost envelopes from Royal Mail

Custom-printed Freepost Envelopes, DL, C5 & C4 Size.

Freepost Envelopes, which in the UK are also called 'No Stamp Required' Envelopes are part of the Royal Mail response service, are used to encourage customers to reply to you, or your company, without your customer having to pay the Royal Mail's postage cost at their end. You'll pay it for them.

Freepost envelopes are the professional way to do it and can be printed by Trade Printing UK (after you first apply for a licence from Royal Mail — see below) with your company's details and company logo, using Royal Mail's layout guidelines (we'll use our superb, professional templates to create that for you!).

Trade Printing UK are probably the leading Freepost envelope printing specialist company (with Freepost Envelopes printed FROM £54 plus FREE DELIVERY) within the UK's envelope printer industry, for these types of Royal Mail response services printed envelopes.


A quick HD video guide on how to order FREEPOST Envelopes from Trade Printing UK

I want printed Freepost Envelopes — how do I get them?

Firstly you'll need to apply to the Royal Mail to purchase either a 'Freepost Standard' or 'Freepost Plus' alpha licence number (e.g. AAAA-BBBB-CCCC).

You only pay for the actual post that is sent back to you rather than buying all the postage costs up-front. You pay Royal Mail for that on a MONTHLY basis. So Freepost envelopes really mean you're only paying for what you receive back from your customers.


How much does a Freepost Licence Cost?

There is an annual licence fee that has to be paid up front to Royal Mail which is currently £99.70 + VAT per year to get your licence in the first place, plus £68 + VAT per year for any additional licences if you have other (over 10) branches.

This is a grouped licence, so you get a bundle Freepost Standard / Business Reply Standard licence or Freepost Plus / Business Reply Plus licence together. Just pick either the 'Standard' or 'Plus' licence bundle.

Freepost Envelope annual licence costs from Royal Mail 2021 graphic


How much will it cost me for each Freepost envelope with the Royal Mail?

After you have your licence from the Royal Mail, you then pay a price per single response [i.e. you pay Royal Mail directly — on a monthly account basis — for EACH returned Freepost envelope a customer sends you back] for all items up to 100g

(e.g. under the PLUS licences for DL + C5 "Letter" sizes — 

1st Class: 68p; 2nd Class: 48p

Under the STANDARD licences for DL + C5 "Letter" sizes — 

1st Class: 74p; 2nd Class: 57p

C4 "Large Letter" sizes and above are more expensive [up to 100g weight] —  

1st Class: £1.07; 2nd Class: 85p

because they are hand sorted by humans) and of course this depends whether you use a Royal Mail 1st Class or 2nd Class Indicia mark on your customised Freepost envelopes.

Royal Mail's latest 2022 Response Services Rate Card is HERE.

Royal Mail postage cost per Freepost envelope 2021 graphic


How do I get Freepost envelopes printed after I have my licence?

Once you have that Freepost licence number, you can place your order with Trade Printing UK to actually print the DL envelopes (we also do C5 and C4 size variants) professionally for you.

Don't forget you can include your company logo for free (your address block, the 1st/2nd class indicia in the top right, and the Licence number must ALWAYS BE PRINTED IN BLACK INK so that is the minimum colour of ink you can print your logo as well.

We can add your Full Colour Logo for FREE to the above too.

We would then draw up your professional artwork with our own professional templates designed specifically for Royal Mail's products.

To remove any hassle and make it easier for you, we'll forward the artwork (created from the licence and address details you supply) to the Royal Mail for approval. An added benefit of us contacting them on your behalf is that it helps significantly speed up the whole process.


What's the DIFFERENCE between Freepost STANDARD and Freepost PLUS envelopes?

The Freepost Plus envelope type is the most popular variant as it will give your company an extra postage cost discount (currently 9p OFF per 2nd Class item) over the 'Freepost Standard' envelope type, but they can only weigh up to a maximum weight of 100g and must be pre-printed with the 'Plus' artwork and indicia barcode.

The 'Plus' licence can only be used with DL and C5 sizes; C4 size envelopes are excluded as they're hand-sorted - you must use a Standard licence with the latter [see below].

Freepost Standard envelopes are the less popular of the two however they give the most scope to UK businesses for envelope size [i.e. Freepost Standard also allows for C4 envelopes unlike Freepost Plus which doesn't] and 1st or 2nd Class services etc.


Do Freepost Envelopes need a stamp?

Not in the traditional sense, but they do use the same 1st Class or 2nd Class Indicia in the top right of the artwork as Business Reply Envelopes.

If you're a charity it's best NOT to ask your patrons donating to you to stick a stamp over the indicia as it will cost your charity extra money by a fine from the Royal Mail. So in the end it'll cost you money.

Freepost Envelopes 1st or 2nd Class Indicia postage mark graphic


Why choose a FREEPOST envelope over a BUSINESS REPLY Envelope?

Good question! The straight answer is, there is NO difference! NONE whatsover. THEY DO THE SAME THING! Seriously. It's all down to personal choice.

Freepost is seen as LESS formal [yet exhibits the same features of a Business Reply licence number and 1st or 2nd class indicia, and are delivered in the same time] and more consumer-focused.

Business Reply is seen as a MORE formal and professional look. However, again, there is NO difference in the actual service or what it actually does. We wish they'd just standardise everything into one product, but there you go.


How to CONTACT the Royal Mail Freepost licensing team post-Covid

To CONTACT the Royal Mail “Freepost” licensing team (as of Oct 2021) phone: 03457 950950 — then Press '1', then hold, then Press '4', then Press '2' — this will get you speaking to an actual person! (Lines are open 8am to 5pm — Monday to Friday.) Or alternatively, just E-mail the Royal Mail response services licensing team: HERE


Already got a licence? You'll need the modern "Response Services Barcode" added to your existing artwork.

Back in April 2014, the Royal Mail introduced an additional font-based barcode to the licence plate area in the top left of envelopes, which must be added to your additional artwork (if you've got Freepost envelopes before). You can supply it by entering the 12-digit licence numbering into their Response Services Artwork Generator and pick the "Response Services Barcode" only, remembering that DL and C5 are classed as "Letter" size, and C5 is classed as "Large Letter" size. Then choose either "EPS vector' or "PDF" format from the final radio button choice.

Freepost Licence Barcode Example graphic
TradePrintingUK can add that for you. Just phone 028 9084 1234 or E-mail us today and we can update your existing Freepost envelope artwork for you.


What type of flap can I use? Self-Seal or Peel & Seal?

From an over-printing perspective, we normally produce your Freepost envelopes via our now standard, premium 120gsm peel & seal product ranges (the highest quality in the UK print industry for this sector!) for quantities ranging from 250 - 5000; over this and you have the option to use our 100gsm Self-Seal envelope product on either the 'Freepost Standard' or 'Freepost Plus' licence formats.

We have two popular types of glued flaps on our Freepost Envelopes:

120gsm Peel & Seal Envelope with top, long-edge, Wallet Flap

120gsm Peel & Seal

Our standard, Superior envelope product using premium 120gsm white bond paper, featuring a strong, single-use, pressure-sensitive gum behind a waxy paper strip that you remove to expose the glue before sealing the flap down securely.

They aren't compatible with automatic insertion [Fulfilment] machines — which require 90gsm Gummed Machinable with a special gummed flap shape — but are fantastic for long-term storage and portraying a high-end luxury image for your company.

An easy way for your customer to send back correspondence as a Freepost envelope, without resorting to licking the envelope (yuck! Nobody needs to lick an envelope any more) to seal it.

These are presented in "Superior" branded, high-end, red & black storage boxes, oozing quality.

SHELF LIFE: up to 5 years

WALLET Long-Edge Flap

BOXED: in 500's (C4 in 250's)

100gsm Self-Seal Envelope with top, long-edge, Wallet Flap

100gsm Self-Seal (aka "Touch & Seal")

Our alternative premium envelope on 100gsm white bond paper, these use a pressure-sensitive gum applied to both flaps that you then seal down together to form the bond with each strip of gum.

These have the bonus of a security pattern, generically printed inside the envelope.

SHELF LIFE: up to 6 months (as glue will dry out)

WALLET Long-Edge Flap as standard on all sizes, C6, DL, C5, and C4


BOXED: in 500's (C4 in 250's)


How long does Freepost take to be delivered?

Freepost envelopes in the UK are treated the same way and with the same delivery time by Royal Mail as any other 1st Class or 2nd Class post. 1st Class should be delivered to you in 1-2 days; and 2nd Class will be delivered to you in 2-4 days within the UK and Northern Ireland usually.