Royal Mail customers will be able to post items like aerosols, nail varnishes, perfumes and aftershaves to UK addresses from next year, after a review of rules banning such items from the postal network.
The postal operator has discussed the situation with UK authorities, and looks set to allow the sending of small consignments of some items currently prohibited by dangerous goods regulations.
The updated rules will come into affect for contract business customers on 14th January, 2013, and for consumers and smaller businesses on 15th July 2013.
Under the new rules, Royal Mail said customers would have to comply with quantity and volume limits, and ensure items are packed and labelled properly.
The review of regulations with the government’s Department of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency also means Royal Mail customers will be able to continue posting alcoholic goods (up to 70% alcohol by volume). The sending of lithium batteries within the UK will be allowed if they are sent along with an electronic device.
Royal Mail said the updated rules would still limit the risk posed by flammable liquids, aerosols or lithium batteries. The company is also facing extra costs in adopting measures to handle the “low risk” items.
Mike Newnham, Royal Mail’s chief customer officer, said: “Royal Mail has agreed updated rules with the Civil Aviation Authority, Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for sending specific consumer items in the mail.
“This will limit the risk posed by certain items and ensure they can be transported safely through the UK postal network. Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd will work with customers to ensure they are given the appropriate advice on the updated arrangements before they are introduced in 2013,” added Newnham.
International outbound parcels will continue to face the restrictions imposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), while revised restrictions on international parcels will come into force on 14th January, 2013.
This will include a new limit of 24% by volume for alcoholic products shipped abroad, although Royal Mail said it was hoping to persuade international regulators including the ICAO and the UPU to work on raising the 24% ABV limit. The earliest any changes could be made would be 2015, it said.
Aerosols will continue to be prohibited from international parcels, as will nail varnish, perfumes and aftershaves, but when lithium batteries are contained within an electronic device, the revised rules will allow them to be sent internationally.
Royal Mail has promised an “extensive” awareness campaign to provide advice on the updated rules before they are introduced in 2013.
This will include training for Post Office Ltd staff to help them provide advice to customers, and post office customers sending parcels will receive leaflets explaining the new rules before they are introduced.
Royal Mail said it has written to its contract business customers to raise awareness of the rule changes.
Underlining the importance of customer awareness, the company noted that posting banned substances can be a criminal offense in the UK.
Geoff Leach, manager of the CAA’s Dangerous Goods Office, said: “Royal Mail has developed an approach and a communications programme to ensure its customers can implement any necessary changes to their postings as smoothly as possible.”
Source: Post&Parcel/Royal Mail