Special Delivery Rates 1891-1993

1977 – 60p special delivery fee, uprated OHMS National Physical Lab envelope

"Under this Service Letters and Parcels are forwarded by Mail in the regular course of post to any Express Delivery Office in the Kingdom, and on arrival there are sent out for delivery by Special Messenger."

Most express covers that are seen are from this service, where postage and express fees were paid by the sender in stamps affixed to the cover. Rates were initially per mile, from 1936 a flat fee (although not to the Irish Republic).

From 1938 this service was referred to as "Special Delivery", with the term "Express" confined to its original Service I/Service V meaning of a letter sent by messenger all the way. Separate "Special Delivery" labels (originally white on green) were introduced on 6th May 1963, although not always used in preference to the red Express labels!

Upon the introduction of two-tier post on 16th September 1968 it applied only to first class letters, and special delivery became the only service available from 28th July 1980, being rebranded as "Royal Mail Special Delivery" with new purple labels. The system eventually merged with the registration system in 1993 as what became known as Priority Services, as in practice the two systems had many similarities of handling.

Date Fee Date Fee Date Fee Date Fee
(1 Aug)
2d/3d (first/ each extra mile)POC 12 Jun 1891 1892
(1 Jan)
3d per milePOC 17 Dec 1891 1919
(1 Jun)
6d per milePOC 27 Jun 1919 1936
(3 Jul)
6dPOC 1 Jul 1936
(1 Jan)
1sPOC 6 Oct 1955 1965
(17 May)
3sPOC 24 Mar 1965 1971
(15 Feb)
20pLeaflet 1974
(24 Jun)
(29 Sep)
60pLeaflet 1979
(20 Aug)
80pFurfie 1980
(28 Jul)
£1.00PO Scheme 1981
(26 Jan)
(1 Feb)
£1.50Compendium 1988
(5 Sep)
£1.65Leaflet 1989
(2 Oct)
£1.75Furfie 1990
(17 Sep)
(16 Sep)
£1.95Leaflet 1993
(27 Jun)
Last dayLeaflet