BFPO and armed forces mail - How UK Postbox can help

For some armed forces employees, the British Forces Post Office (BFPO) solution will offer them the mail solution that they need. But for others, there are several features that aren’t available through the BFPO. We’re looking into what the BFPO is, it’s limitations and how UK Postbox can be utilised to increase the control armed forces personnel have with their mail.

What is BFPO?

BFPO is a mail solution in place to help armed forces military personnel receive mail. It’s commonly used by friends, family and loved ones to send letters or parcels to anyone within the armed forces. Locations used by the military, such as bases or operational hubs, have a unique BFPO number which helps mail couriers deliver mail to the right place and right people when on active-duty. Many online retailers offer shipment to BFPO addresses, and family and friends can post items to a BFPO address for free up to 2kg.

Who uses BFPO?

BFPO is used across the British armed forces and its employees. This system allows for the secure receiving and distribution to military personnel in the following areas:

  1. Navy
  2. Army
  3. Air force

Receiving mail while on duty or away from home is important for both the receiver and anyone sending mail. It opens up a communication channel that may otherwise be limited and helps to keep the British armed forces connected with their home life. 

Are there any restrictions with BFPO?

BFPO is an amazing service that has been operating since 1999, helping active-duty military personnel receive and manage their mail while working. However, what are the main griping points for the BFPO?

  1. Waiting times - BFPO mail is sorted at a single facility before being sent towards its intended destination. This means that military personnel will need to wait until the sorting centre processes the mail before it’s on its way to them. For anyone who is stationed abroad or isn’t currently near a base that receives mail, they may be waiting a long time.
  2. Replying to mail - When a member of the forces is somewhere that they can receive mail, they may find that they want to send a reply. This can be difficult and expensive if they’re in overseas countries, and it may also take a long time until the recipient receives the mail.
  3. Important mail - some mail may require immediate attention to the recipient, such as bills or banking information. In these cases, there may be a delay before they arrive, or they may not have been sent to a BFPO address in the first place. This can create a situation where a member of the armed forces aren’t aware of mail that needs their attention until a much later date, or they’re relying on someone else to read it, forward it on or let them know the contents.
  4. Mail access - there will be some situations where a member of the armed forces is unable to access their mail. As an example, members of the Navy who are on active-duty may be on board a ship that isn’t able to receive mail until it docks. In these instances, it can be a long time until any mail is received.

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Transforming BFPO for the armed forces: UK Postbox

BFPO is a fantastic service, however, there can be instances where the functionality of BFPO doesn’t meet the demands of military personnel or their families. UK Postbox offers a service entirely separate from the BFPO which means that anyone can utilise both at the same time. 

How it works

  1. When you sign up for a UK Postbox account, you’ll be given a unique address and accompanying mail plan that will vary depending on your intended usage. When someone is sending you mail, they use your UK Postbox address as the destination. We’ll receive the mail on your behalf in our secure mail sorting facility, scan the outside envelope/parcel and let you know something has arrived for you.
  2. From here, you can then choose how you want to action your mail. Request that we scan the contents for you to read online, have the mail item stored or destroyed, ask for us to forward it on to another location, such as your BFPO address, or even reply to the mail.
  3. We’ll action your mail in whichever way you ask us to.

UK Postbox offers a variety of quality of life functions within their platform that offers additional features to read and manage mail online. Here are a few of the main features that benefit British forces:

Read mail on the move

Using the UK Postbox app and any internet-connected device, you can read any of your mail online. This means that letters sent by loved ones and important mail for your attention can be read sooner rather than later. You’ll then have the option to reply to the mail through your account or store anything for your attention at another time.

Receive mail and parcels to your UK Postbox address

In some instances, it will be quicker to have mail sent to a UK Postbox address to read online rather than waiting for it to be delivered to a BFPO address. There may even be instances where you do not need your post straight away and would rather have it stored. As an example, rather than having mail sent internationally to someone on duty overseas, you can have it sent to their UK Postbox address. They’ll be notified when something arrives for them, and if they’re returning to a UK base anytime soon, they can hold off having it mailed to them until they’re back home.

Forward mail from your UK Postbox address to your BFPO address

In the event that you need mail forwarded on to your location, you can request this from your UK Postbox account. You’ll have complete control over when and where mail is sent on to you, giving you the chance to manage your post on a case by case basis. You can use your UK Postbox virtual address as your mail hub and then choose what to do when something arrives for you, rather than having everything sent to your nearby BFPO address.

Send letters to UK addresses

Receiving a heartfelt letter from a family member or loved one can help make those times away from home easier. In the event of this happening, you may find yourself wanting to reply via letter too. Log in to your UK Postbox account, let us know what you’d like the letter to say or upload a photo/scan of the handwritten letter, and we’ll handle the rest for you. 

Mail storage

Whether it’s important mail that needs your attention another time or a treasured letter from your friends or family. Within our app you can choose to store mail in one of our PO Boxes, ready for you to view again and again. If you’re regularly travelling on duty, it can be a great way to collate all of the mail you receive while away into a single place. We offer 30-days free storage with competitive rates thereafter.

Royal mail redirection

Many members of the armed forces will utilise royal mail redirection when they’re away. Essentially, it’s a service that allows mail addressed to them to be forwarded to another location. It can be helpful when spending time away from a home address, or when you’ve permanently moved. A UK Postbox account can be used for your redirection service, and you can continue to have mail forwarded here from any address for you to action via the app. If you’re unsure on what redirection is, check out our blog post redirection service explained.

Sign up to UK Postbox

If you can see the advantage of having a UK Postbox account alongside the BFPO system, then it’s quick and easy for you to sign up to a UK Postbox address. Simply follow the below instructions:

  1. Visit the sign up page.
  2. Select an address based on the features you need to be included.
  3. Choose a mail plan based on your expected usage. If you’re unsure, opt for the ‘Letter PAYG’ plan which serves as a pay-as-you-go option.
  4. Tell us how you’d like to be billed (monthly or annually).
  5. Complete the account holder information, complete your identity verification and you’re good to start using your UK Postbox address and begin receiving mail at your new UK Postbox address

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Allan Chester