As anyone who’s ever spent their whole lunch break queuing in the post office will confirm, it’s not the most fun way to spend an hour.
Thankfully, your days of listening to ‘Go to counter 5’ repeatedly are over, as you can now print your own stamps at home. All you need is a PC, an internet connection, and a printer.
Step 1: Set up your account
Setting up your account is the most time-consuming part of the process, but once you’ve done it, it makes it much faster next time.
First, head to www.royalmail.com and scroll down to the Buy and Print Postage Online link on the left. Click it, and on the next screen, click the Buy Postage Online button, then Register. Enter your details.
Watch out for the ‘Keeping You Informed’ section at the bottom – tick the first row of boxes if you don’t want to receive spam from the Post Office, then leave the second row of boxes unticked to avoid being sent marketing bumf from third parties. Click Register.
Step 2: Get started
You should be back on the previous page. Click Get Started. Now choose how you want to print your stamps: on sticky labels, envelopes, or on plain A4 paper. Whichever you choose, you need to specify the size of the media and the layout. Click Continue when you’re done.
Step 3: Enter the address and weight
Now you’ll need to enter the address to which the letter will be sent. If you want to save it to use at a later date, click the box marked Save to my address book. Then click Continue.
You will have to weigh your package, but don’t worry if you don’t have a set of scales to hand as you can estimate the weight using a drop-down menu labelled sample weight. Click it, and you can choose from a series of typical things people post, like a greetings card, a CD, a pair of jeans, and a pair of trainers. Each has their typical weight, so click one and it’ll select the correct size format (letter, large letter, small parcel, or medium parcel) so you won’t need to weigh your item.
Step 4: Be more secure
Want to be send your package more securely? Boxes on the right let you choose secure sending methods. You can add additional compensation from £50 to £2,500, choose guaranteed delivery, and make sure someone has to sign on acceptance. Be aware, though, that for any of these measures, you’ll have to go to a Post Office and hand it over at the counter. Click Continue when you’re done.
Step 5: Choose a service
Now it’s time to choose a postage service from the list provided. Your options will vary depending on the size and weight of your parcel or letter, which you specified on the previous screen. For each, it will tell you how much compensation you’re entitled to, what kind of tracking – if any – is offered, as well as how much it will cost.
Step 6: Confirm
You’re now shown a page summarising your order. You can edit it if anything isn’t to your liking, and see a preview of how it’ll look when it’s printed out. All OK? If so, click Add to basket. You’ll now have to tick the box to confirm that your package doesn’t contain any restricted items, or if it does, declare so. Tick another box confirming you’ve read the terms and conditions, and then click Confirm and Pay.
Step 7: Pay and print
You have to use a pre-pay system to pay for your postage, so you’ll have to top up your account with an amount ranging from £3.50 to £100. Click to confirm that you’ve read the terms and conditions and add your credit card details.
Now it’s time to start printing. You can click Create Test Page if you want to test how it’ll look first. Go to the print option in your browser (it’s usually in the File menu), select the correct paper size, and click Print.
Hey presto – you’ve got yourself a postage stamp and address label, ready to be stuck onto your envelope or parcel. Just remember, these stamps expire, so make sure you head to the nearest post box within the next 24 hours.