UK guide - Postage Charges - When is it excessive?

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Sometimes when you're bidding on an item, you think to yourself... 

Are you paying too much?


There are several things to consider when looking at postage and packing (or shipping and handling) costs.

If you're buying an item, the P&P costs are usually made up of the following:

  -  The cost of the packaging

     For small items, e.g.  CDs, video games, etc.,  expected amounts can range from 20p - £1.00 for a padded bag, to £2.00+ if the seller is using a brand new box bought from the post office.   Large items would mostly be sent in boxes, which are freely available from supermarkets.  Add a little for bubble wrap, polystyrene chips, tape, labels, etc.

-   Time charges

   Of course, packaging and sending items can take time, especially if it's done carefully.  Travel to post offices can take a long time (and cost a lot if you live a long way away from the local post offce!)

-   Currency charges and other fees

  Accepting payments can cost money too.  If you've bought a 50p item, don't expect the postage cost to be at actual cost.  Remember, it has cost the seller 15p to list the item, and PayPal will take 30p+ just for handling the payment, which rises dramatically!

 Some business sellers use business bank accounts which charge up to 50p to pay in a cheque.

Foreign payments such as US$ and EURO cash can lose 5-10% of their value when changing to sterling, and foreign cheques and even bank transfers can cost up to £10.00, if the seller's bank account isn't geared up for international payments.

-  Postal costs

 Posting something in the UK, that's under 1KG in weight and no more than 35x25x16cm when packaged should cost no more than £4  (unless insurance is added) if sent by Royal Mail 2nd class

 Larger packages (i.e. games consoles) normally fit in the 2-5 Kg weight limit.  The cost of posting these by Royal Mail would be very expensive, so many people use couriers now.

Some sellers, myself included, use courier services like Hermes, UPS, TNT etc. whose costs can be massively cheaper.    Expect about £9 - £12 for a next day package, or £5.50 - £7.50 for a slower service like Hermes.

Please bear in mind if you live in Northern Ireland, or Scottish Highlands for example, and your chosen seller is using a courier, the costs can more than double - though this can be avoided if you use the Royal Mail parcel system.

International mail - Anything over 2KG in weight, expect to pay at least £25.00 - £30.00      This sounds bizarre to most overseas buyers, but that's just the Royal Mail for you - completely uncompetitive when compared to Deutsche Post, the USPS, and Australia Post.  Courier costs to nearer UK countries such as Germany, France, Denmark etc. is around £20.00 by some couriers.

Good sellers will discount the postage costs for multiple purchases where possible, though remember that the new 'pricing in proportion' rules may make small packages more bulky, thus attracting a higher postage scale.

Shipping outside of the European Union but still in Europe, such as Norway or Switzerland is VAT free.


-  Insurance

   An extra  £1.10 on your mail may give you recorded delivery (also known as 'signed for') - and a promise of £50 insurance too.   However, ALL UK mail is insured to a value of £20.00 FREE OF CHARGE.   All the seller has to do is obtain a certificate of posting for the item (or really, just keep his or her postal receipt), which is completely free.  Remember though, if your item is of higher value, it's worth paying the extra for tracking.

-  EBAY fees for postage

Ebay are now charging 10% commission to sellers for postage costs.  Bear this in mind!



  • A CD =      £1.50 for first        50p  each additional
  • A 7" Record =   £1.50        /     50p  each additional
  • A small paperback =    £2.00  /   £1.00 each additional
  • A Videogame =   £2.00       /   £1.00  each additional
  • Sony Playstation + games (unboxed)   £10  /  £2.00 each additional
  • Sony Playstation + games (boxed)    £12   /  £2.50 each additional
  • Portable Television         £15.00    /   £10.00 each additional
  • Car radio       £6.00   /   £2.50  each additional
  • very light items  (earrings, a watch battery etc.)  £1.00 /  £0.10 each additional

I hope this has helped!  Thanks for reading.




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