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Pre-paid envelopes or franking machine?

Using pre-paid envelopes is a widely available means to increase productivity, as it saves the burden of sticking stamps onto each mail sent. Different formats can be purchased, with matching postage – Royal Mail also offers a specific, safe mailing package solution for sending pharmaceutical samples. Franking can also be understood as another way to send pre-paid envelopes, with the additional benefit of significant savings on postage rates.

Pre Paid Envelopes

Royal Mail pre-paid envelopes

  • Pre-paid envelope types

Royal Mail issues several formats of pre-paid envelopes. Each format is available with either First Class or Second Class postage up to 100g, and the usual quantity is 100 envelopes per pack.

    • The most common format used is called “DL” (DIN Lang). This format basically allows to send a few A4-size document vertically folded in three. Dimensions are therefore as follows : 110mm in height, 220mm in length, which is 4.33 inches high and 8.66 inches long. Both windowed and non-windowed envelopes are available.
    • C4 envelopes are 229mm (9 inches) high and 324mm (12.8 inches) wide ;
    • C5 envelopes are 162mm (6.4 inches) high and 229mm (9 inches) wide, and are perfect for A5 documents.


  • Safebox : Royal Mail’s secure pre-paid mailing package solution

Safebox is a virtually indestructible pre-paid mailing package specifically designed for healthcare professionals. Place your samples in the leak-proof containers, wrap the containers in the absorbent material and self-seal bag, and then into the plastic compartment. Seal the box, address the package and it can be left in any post-box, or at any Post Office if next-day delivery-guaranteed Special Delivery is required. Safeboxes are sold in packs of 12 or 48 by Royail Mail, and can be stored flat.


Make your own pre-paid envelopes with a franking machine


  • Franking machine basics

Franking machines can be used to frank different formats of letters or parcels, at First Class or Second Class rates, nationally or internationally.

The machine will simply print the correct franking value onto the envelope or franking label, depending on size, weight, destination and chosen rate. You just then have to send the mail, or prepare it for collection by Royal Mail business services.

To use a franking machine, you will have to get a license from Royal Mail: generally, your franking machine supplier will handle the application for you, and you will just have to credit your franking account at Royal Mail. In effect, you will be sending out a pre-paid item. The machine will then keep your billing data up-to-date, sometimes directly linking with your accounting software to update the corresponding entries.


  • Operation guidelines

The first thing to know is how you will weight your postal item. Although most franking machines have a built-in or optional scale, you may have to get a separate one if you bought an entry-level machine model.

Most machines are now connected, and that’s a big plus: so make sure the database was updated with the latest tariffs before proceeding.

Depending on your machine’s sophistication, you may or may not have to input the number of letters and their formats so that the proportional price can be computed.

Letters are fed into the machine, manually or automatically, and then franked by the machine.


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