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Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service vs. Special Delivery in UK Mail Service — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Published on February 22, 2024
Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service offers proof of postage and delivery signature, suitable for less urgent items, while Special Delivery guarantees next-day delivery with enhanced security, tracking, and compensation for valuable items.
Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service vs. Special Delivery in UK Mail Service — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service and Special Delivery in UK Mail Service


Key Differences

Recorded Delivery, now known as "Signed For" by Royal Mail, provides customers with proof of postage and requires a signature upon delivery, adding a layer of security for important but not highly urgent mail. It's a cost-effective option for non-time-sensitive documents and parcels, offering peace of mind through confirmation of delivery.
Special Delivery, formally "Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm," offers a more premium service, ensuring next-day delivery for items sent before a specific cut-off time. This service is designed for urgent, valuable, or sensitive documents and parcels, providing detailed tracking, a guaranteed delivery time, and substantial compensation in case of loss or damage.
Recorded Delivery is suitable for everyday important items, while Special Delivery is tailored for situations demanding speed, reliability, and additional security. The choice between the two depends on the sender's priorities regarding delivery speed, security, and budget.
Special Delivery's higher cost reflects its enhanced features, making it the go-to option for critical documents like legal contracts or high-value items that require fast and secure delivery. Recorded Delivery, on the other hand, is more economical for less urgent mail that still needs confirmation of delivery.

Comparison Chart

Delivery Speed

1-3 days, no guaranteed next-day
Guaranteed next-day by 1pm


Basic tracking with delivery confirmation
Detailed tracking with regular updates

Signature on Delivery



Up to £50
Up to £500 standard, with options for higher compensation


Lower than Special Delivery
Higher, reflecting the premium service

Best Used For

Important but non-urgent items
Urgent, valuable, or sensitive items

Compare with Definitions

Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service

A cost-effective option for secure mail.
Use Recorded Delivery for secure, budget-friendly mailing of important letters.

Special Delivery in UK Mail Service

Provides detailed tracking and a guaranteed delivery time.
Track your Special Delivery parcel in real-time for peace of mind.

Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service

Compensates up to £50 for loss or damage.
A gift sent via Recorded Delivery is covered for value up to £50.

Special Delivery in UK Mail Service

Offers compensation up to £500 as standard.
Send valuable items via Special Delivery for higher compensation coverage.

Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service

Suitable for non-urgent, important mail.
Recorded Delivery is ideal for standard business documents needing confirmation.

Special Delivery in UK Mail Service

Requires a signature on delivery for added security.
Special Delivery items are always handed over against a signature.

Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service

Offers basic tracking until the point of delivery.
You can check online when your Recorded Delivery item has been delivered.

Special Delivery in UK Mail Service

Ideal for high-value or time-sensitive parcels.
Use Special Delivery for urgent shipments like concert tickets or expensive jewelry.

Recorded Delivery in UK Mail Service

Provides added security with proof of postage and signature on delivery.
Sending a signed contract via Recorded Delivery ensures receipt.

Special Delivery in UK Mail Service

Ensures next-day delivery for urgent items.
Special Delivery is perfect for last-minute legal documents.

Common Curiosities

Can I track my Recorded Delivery item in real-time?

Recorded Delivery offers basic tracking, primarily confirming when the item has been delivered, rather than detailed real-time updates.

Can I send parcels internationally with these services?

Both services are primarily for domestic use in the UK, but Royal Mail offers international equivalents for overseas shipping.

Are there any items I can't send via Special Delivery or Recorded Delivery?

Both services have restrictions on prohibited items, which include dangerous goods and certain valuable items like money. Check Royal Mail's guidelines for a detailed list.

How can I ensure my item is covered for its full value if it's worth more than the standard compensation?

For Special Delivery, you can purchase additional compensation to cover higher-value items, ensuring full coverage in case of loss or damage.

How do I claim compensation if my item is lost or damaged?

Submit a claim form to Royal Mail with proof of postage, item value, and any damage. Claims must be made within a specified timeframe after posting.

Can I send a parcel via Recorded Delivery on a Saturday for Monday delivery?

While Saturday posting is available, delivery times for Recorded Delivery are not guaranteed, so Monday delivery is not assured.

What happens if a Special Delivery item is not delivered by 1pm the next day?

Royal Mail offers a money-back guarantee if a Special Delivery item fails to arrive by the guaranteed time, subject to terms and conditions.

Is there a weight limit for items sent via Special Delivery?

Yes, there's a weight limit, typically up to 10kg for parcels, but it's advisable to check the latest Royal Mail guidelines as this can change.

Can I drop off my Special Delivery or Recorded Delivery item at any post office?

Yes, you can drop off items at post offices. For Special Delivery, ensure it's before the cut-off time for next-day delivery.

Can I use these services for sending items to PO Boxes within the UK?

Yes, items can be sent to PO Boxes, but there might be restrictions on items requiring a signature for PO Boxes not manned by Royal Mail.

How do I know which service to choose for my mailing needs?

Consider the urgency, value, and need for tracking of your item. Use Special Delivery for urgent and valuable items, and Recorded Delivery for less urgent, important mail.

How secure is the signature requirement for these services?

The signature requirement adds a layer of security, ensuring the item is handed over to someone at the delivery address, but it's not proof of identity.

What proof of postage do I receive with these services?

Both services provide a postage receipt with a unique tracking number, serving as proof of postage.

Can I specify a delivery time with Special Delivery?

Special Delivery guarantees delivery by 1pm the next working day, but does not allow for specifying a narrower delivery window.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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