When are the last post dates for Christmas 2019?
Don't miss the deadlines for sending your cards and parcels
Christmas is still more than a month away but the rush to make sure presents and cards arrive on time has already begun.
With this year bringing threats of postal strikes, cold weather disruption and the added pressure of delivering postal votes, here is a handy guide to the latest recommended mailing dates and delivery choices to avoid disappointment.
Last post for the UK
For second-class post within the UK, the cut-off is Wednesday 18 December. First-class post should be mailed by Friday 20 December, while special delivery guaranteed post can be sent as late as Monday 23 December.
What about other countries?
You will need to act soon if sending presents or cards abroad, as the deadlines for international shipping are considerably earlier than domestic routes.
Some of the last posting dates for International Economy (formerly known as Surface Mail) destinations have already passed. To reach the rest of the world using the International Standard (formerly known as Airmail) service these are the latest recommended posting dates for your diary:
Monday 9 December for Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Central and South America, Far and Middle East
Tuesday 10 December for Cyprus and Malta
Wednesday 11 December for Eastern Europe (except Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia)
Thursday 12 December for Greece, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand
Saturday 14 December for the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Canada and USA
Monday 16 December for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland and Spain
Wednesday 18 December for Belgium, France, Ireland and Luxembourg
What about postal strikes?
Last month, 100,000 Royal Mail staff voted to take action over job security and pay in the run-up to Christmas in what would have been the first national postal strike in a decade.
However, the Royal Mail has since won a High Court battle to block the strike. Mr Justice Swift accepted the postal company’s argument that the ballot to call the strike - which was won with 97% of the vote - was compromised by “improper interference”.
The judge’s ruling also precluded the opportunity for appeal before Christmas on the grounds that it could disrupt postal voting before the 12 December’s general election
BBC business correspondent Emma Simpson says “realistically, it seems there's little chance of strike action before the new year, meaning postal workers have lost their moment of maximum leverage”.
She adds: “A Christmas strike plus a threat to postal votes during the election would have been very damaging for the Royal Mail. It'll now be breathing a temporary sigh of relief.”
What about other couriers?
Royal Mail is not the only option for getting parcels delivered. Other courier options include:
DHL: Drop off your package at one of more than 1,200 DHL service points across the UK, or book a collection online and couriers will come to you.
The final date for countries outside North America and Europe is Wednesday 18 December, with the US, Canada and Mexico a day later on 19 December. The deadline for shipping to the rest of Europe is Friday 20 December, and Monday 23 December for anywhere in the UK.
TNT: TNT’s deadline for UK deliveries is Monday 23 December. For international services, the final dates are 21 December for the express service, and 20 December for economy service.
Parcelforce: Parcelforce’s deadline for UK deliveries is Monday 23 December. For western Europe, the US and Canada the last date for its global express service is Tuesday 17 December.