Explaining printed Freepost envelopes from the Royal Mail

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

Freepost Envelopes, are 'No Stamp Required' Envelopes within the UK. They are part of the Royal Mail's response service.

They encourage customers to reply to you, or your company, without paying Royal Mail postage costs. 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 a leading Freepost envelope printing company within the print industry. Freepost Envelopes can be printed from just £19 with FREE DELIVERY.


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

I want Freepost Envelopes — how do I get them?

You'll need to apply to the Royal Mail to buy either a 'Freepost Standard' or 'Freepost Plus' licence.  e.g. AAAA-BBBB-CCCC).

You're only paying for post that you receive back from customers.

You pay Royal Mail for that on a MONTHLY basis.

How much does a Freepost Licence Cost?

An annual licence fee of £99.90 + VAT per year — paid up front to Royal Mail. Any added licences cost £68 + VAT per year if you have 10+ other branches.

The Response Services' Annual Licence fee allows you to choose either:

  Freepost Standard / Business Reply Standard


  Freepost PLUS / Business Reply PLUS

Choose a  'Standard' or 'PLUS' licence bundle, depending on your requirements below...

Freepost Envelope annual licence costs from Royal Mail 2021 graphic


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

Once you have a Royal Mail licence, you then pay a price per single response.

You pay Royal Mail — on a MONTHLY account basis — for EACH returned Freepost envelope that a customer sends back to you.  This encompasses items up to a 100g weight.

There are TWO types of Freepost licence available:

  PLUS which is machine-sorted and more efficient

  STANDARD which is machine or hand-sorted depending on envelope size.

You'll need a separate licence for each office address, if you have more than one.


Under a PLUS licence for DL + C5 "Letter" sizes ONLY! — (C4 is not available)

Freepost PLUS — 1st Class:  68p
Freepost PLUS — 2nd Class:  48p


Under a STANDARD licence for DL + C5 "Letter" sizes — 

Freepost STANDARD — 1st Class:  74p
Freepost STANDARD — 2nd Class:  57p


C4 "Large Letter" size is ONLY available under a STANDARD licence — up to 100g weight and is more expensive, due to being hand sorted by humans

Freepost STANDARD C4 — 1st Class:  £1.07
Freepost STANDARD C4 — 2nd Class:  85p


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

Royal Mail postage cost per Freepost envelope 2022 graphic


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

Once you have bought your Freepost licence from Royal Mail, you can then place your order with us to actually PRINT envelopes for you. You must have your licence first though.


Things to bear in mind

The address block, 1st & 2nd class indicia, plus the Licence number must ALWAYS BE PRINTED IN BLACK INK. 

We can add your Company Logo for FREE, which we will print in Full Colour.


Benefits of using us to help you with printing Freepost

• TradePrintingUK can create professional Freepost artwork for you from our Freepost templates.

• Supply your licence number and address details to us and we will do the rest.

• Once created, we can forward the professional artwork to Royal Mail for Copy Approval.

• This helps to speed up the entire process and will take the burden off yourselves.


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

Freepost Plus is the most popular variant as it rewards you with an extra postage discount.

Currently this 'Plus' discount is 9p OFF per 2nd Class item, compared to 'Standard' envelopes.

'Plus' envelopes can only weigh up to 100g weight though. They must also be pre-printed with the special 'Plus' artwork and indicia barcode.

Freepost Standard is the least popular of the two types. It allows for larger C4 envelopes (unlike Freepost Plus which doesn't).

C4 'Large Letter' size envelopes are hand-sorted and excluded from 'Plus' licence. You must have a 'Standard' response licence to use C4 'Large Letter' size.


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 020 4568 3757 or E-mail us today and we can update your existing Freepost envelope artwork for you.


What type of flap can I use with Free Post? 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.