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PacketPost, PPI and Business Collections

using On-line Business Account (OBA)

This guide assumes you've ready the related Overview guide, but if not, you may like to read it now before proceeding.

On-line Business Accounting (OBA) is not the most intuitive of systems to use, but once you've got the hang of it, it's really quite simple. In particular you will see the Security Information Box relating to secure and non-secure items/pages all the time - really annoying, but just click past them in the usual way. You may also see or hear references to E-Pro. This is an on-line system in place prior to OBA; no new accounts are being registered, and it will end at the end of November 2007.

How do you apply?

You can apply online by going to the Royal Mail website, and selecting the Business Tab. Near the bottom you will see a link 'How to get an online account', which takes you to a simple web-form to complete. Alternatively you can ring 08457 950950 and they will take your details over the phone.

Changing from the paper system to OBA

There's no formal cutover process from one to the other, you just stop using the paper cheques and start working on line. RM does ask you to return your unused posting cheques to them at Posting Docket Book Returns, Royal Mail, Financial Management & Control, FREEPOST RLZX - XJSK - HYXL, No 1 Future Walk, West Bars, CHESTERFIELD, S49 1PF, although I must admit I've still got mine - just in case.

Logging On

When you are accepted for OBA you will be sent an email confirming your acceptance and giving you the url, which you can see on my Useful Links for PacketPost and PPI page. The link takes you to a Royal Mail screen asking you for your email address and password, which will in turn take you to a screen saying Show My Account and Log Out - click on Show My Account. This takes you to another screen offering you Your Customers Accounts and Your Accounts; choose the latter, and finally you are in your own OBA account at the Manage Your Orders screen.

Starting a New Order

  1. Click on Create a New Order.
  2. On the left you'll see a Search area for previous orders, in the main box is the section for filling in the details of your posting, and on the right is a section where previous orders will be displayed.
  3. In the main box you can fill in optional references and descriptions, and you'll see top right the running total for that order. Immediately under reference and description is your account number, and under that the posting date field; click on the little calendar logo and you will get a calendar from which you can select a date - note the format.
  4. Now you are ready to fill in your first line.
    • Either
      • click on Search on the top line in the Product column and an Input Help window pops up.
      • By keying in an asterisk in the Product box and clicking on Search you will see all the posting options in your account.
      • Choose Packet Post Daily Rate and you will see that CRL has been input to the first line of the posting details
      • (you can also key an asterisk straight into the box in Product column but it doesn't save any keyboard clicks)
    • Or if you know the code you want to use, type it into the Product field in upper case
    • Click on Update Order near the bottom. This puts a 10 in Item (ignore this, it's an admin thing, you'll see that the lines are numbered in multiples of ten) and also 1 in Quantity and Packet Post Daily Rate in Description.
    • Now click on Details next to Packet Post Daily Rate and you are taken to another screen for you to fill in weights and quantities; you will need to wait for an automatic refresh at each entry. Service Register Occurrence is always 01. Class of Mailing and Format go in separately; number of items, average weight and Recorded (if appropriate) all go in together. Note that in the price column you will see the actual price and the price per ten items; when I queried this I was told it was because the system was bought from another firm, for whom this is important, but you can safely ignore it.
    • Then Accept.
  5. This takes you back to the main entry screen where you are now ready to repeat steps 4 and 5 until you've done all your categories. A word of warning here. If you send overseas, don't use any of the Z-options to add insurance - choose instead OLA for everything. Adding ISF or Airsure requires a second step: once you've keyed in the numbers and weights and Accepted, go back into details and at the top middle you'll see the word Fees; click on this, add your extras and Accept again.
  6. One advantage of OBA over the paper system is that with OBA you group your overseas items into three categories, Europe, Forces (ie BFPO), and Rest of World, and also that you average the weights within these categories; this makes it easier to fill in and cheaper to use.
  7. At any time you can Confirm, Save or Cancel your order; Confirm if you've done everything (this commits you to paying for what's on the order, so be sure you really want to do this), Save if you want to go back later and Cancel if you don't want it at all.
  8. Once Confirmed (but not before) you can Print; I do two copies, one to go in the yellow pouch SS891 with the order and one for myself, and then Close, which means that you can't do anything else to that docket. There isn't a specific box for the postman/sorting office to stamp these to signify receipt as there is on the paper cheques, but if you ask, the worst is that they say no.
  9. Don't forget to log off once you're done - just above the History column.
  10. One final thing - WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T USE THE BACK BUTTON ON THE BROWSER - use the Cancel buttons from within the OBA software.

Saving and Returning to an Order

If you have previously saved an order, as in step 7 above, you will of course want to go back to it at some time. Log into OBA as normal and when you get to the Manage Your Orders screen, click on Search in the left-hand box - you may need to alter the default values for the fields. Providing there is a saved order which matches your search parameters you'll see a link to it under the search parameter box; simply click on the order number and the details will appear in the main body of the screen. Click on Change to add other items, or Confirm to finish it.

If you have Closed rather than Saved, but want to re-use the information, put ticks in the little boxes next to the lines you wish to re-use and then click Transfer at the bottom, and a new order will be started with those lines already on.

Creating a Template

If you have the same or almost the same order-form every day, you may prefer to make a template. Choose the option Create a New Order Template. This is basically the same as creating a new order, but the basic information is then saved for you to use with minor amendments each day.

Bagging Your Post

Once addressed and PPI'd you need to sort your parcels into piles according to how the Post Office handles them. Each sack will need the appropriate label.

  • Inland
    • first and second class, large letters, recorded and standard
    • special delivery
  • Overseas
    • airmail untracked
    • airmail tracked
    • surface mail untracked
    • surface mail tracked

Once you're ready, put your 2nd class inland items into one sack with a green PPI label, P5068CT, the 1st class ones into another sack with a red PPI label, P5067CT, the overseas items in another sack with an international airmail label P6138C, making sure to mark it ISF in this case, and Special Delivery items in another sack with another red label marked Special Delivery (these types of mail are handled as priority).

Don't forget to print off a copy of the order and put it in the pouch to send off with the post, and to keep one for yourself if you wish. And also remember to put a business card with your return address in the little pocket inside the pouch, or RM's Revenue Office won't be able to send them back to you.


You won't get any Posting Cheques as you would for the paper-based system, but you will still need some things. I have one each of

  • Recorded Delivery Posting Book
  • Special Delivery, Airsure, International Signed-for Despatch Book.

These are signed by the postman or accepting office instead of the Post Office signing individual slips; they are your proof of posting, so keep them carefully in case you need to make a claim.

You will also need general stationery; this will be ordered for you when you first sign up for PPI and PacketPost and thereafter you order on line or by phone. I can email you an on-line order form (go to my Useful Links page), or you can ring 0845 795 0950, option 6. I've added a list of what I find useful in a separate guide. Your postman will bring your sacks as required.

If you've found this helpful, or if you think others would find it helpful, please use the link below to let others know. If on the other hand you think it needs tweaking, please Ebay Message me with your input.

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