The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) provides a postal service to HM Forces, separate from that provided by Royal Mail in the United Kingdom. BFPO addresses are used for the delivery of mail in the UK and around the world. BFPO moved from its original base at Inglis Barracks, Mill Hill to its current base at RAF Northolt in northwest London in 2007.
The mission of BFPO is to "...provide an efficient and effective Postal and Courier Service to sustain the fighting power of UK Armed Forces Worldwide."
Below is an example of a BFPO address, using the fictitious Loamshire Regiment:
12345678 LCPL B Jones B Company 1 Loamshire Regt BFPO 61
BFPO 61 is for Milan, Italy. Until the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, BFPO 1 was the address for British forces serving in the then colony.
When sending mail from the UK to a member of HM Forces serving overseas, the sender must address it to the appropriate BFPO number, and not to the country in which that person is based. This is especially important as mail to BFPO addresses is often charged at the inland UK rate, and if it is addressed to an overseas destination with only UK postage attached, this will result in delays.
For security reasons, mail from HM Forces to civilian addresses in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland must be handed directly to BFPO staff, not placed in the post box, and must not have a return military address displayed on the envelope. In addition, mail to those destinations cannot be sent using the Bluey system.
In 2012, in collaboration with Royal Mail, the BFPO introduced UK-style postcodes, to help ordering items online, owing to problems with websites not recognising the BFPO addressing format.The addresses are assigned to the notional post town "BFPO" and, as of 2012, the postcodes all begin with "BF1". For example, the above address would appear as:
12345678 LCPL B Jones B Company 1 Loamshire Regt BFPO 61 BFPO BF1 2AY
These UK style postcodes are provided for compatibility with non-BFPO UK addresses and are solely for use within websites, due to the automated sorting process at BFPO they should not appear on items of mail.
To speed up the delivery to HM Forces, the BFPO developed a hybrid form of mail, known as the 'e-Bluey', in which letters can be sent directly by internet to the British Armed Forces serving in theatre. The letters are downloaded and printed and then dispatched to the recipient via the traditional military postal system. Letters sent by serving Armed Forces members to family and friends in the UK (from Operational Theatres) are downloaded and printed at various locations in the UK and then delivered to the Royal Mail for final delivery.
The name, e-bluey, comes from the aerograms that are (still) provided for troops on active service and their families at home. Self-adhesive strips along the edges of the paper allowed it to be folded and sealed without the added weight of an envelope, meaning that more of them could be carried by air or by hand for the same total weight. Because of the blue paper these self-contained kits were inevitably known as "blueys", and the name came to carry something of an emotional charge due to the significance of receiving a possibly rare bluey from a loved one. "e-Bluey" was thus a natural term for the BFPO's electronic hybrid mail system.
The entire system uses high level 256k SSL security and encrypted databases. The e-blueys are downloaded from an e-bluey web server (www.ebluey.com) and utilises Pressure Sealed forms that are printed and sealed with an integrated Printer/Sealer. This ensures maximum security and privacy and the correspondence is not censored or reviewed.
The e-bluey was first conceived by Brigadier Barry Cash, CE of the British Forces Post Office (now retired). He assigned the initial development to Major Roy Walker MBE (now retired) in the late 1990s. The service was activated the week before Christmas of 2000. Photo capability was added in 2005, allowing senders to attach personal photos to their e-blueys.
In the spring of 2003, during the first three months of the Invasion of Iraq, over 250,000 e-blueys were sent per month, a record that still stands. The e-bluey became ubiquitous. By the time it was replaced, it accounted for 80% of the flat mail delivered to troops in theatre. e-Blueys were available in numerous locations around the globe plus on operational Navy ships.
The e-bluey system was supported by SuperLetter.Com Inc. who wrote the software and managed the servers for the e-bluey system. The system won several awards, including BFPO e-bluey System Winner 2001 World Mail Award, BFPO e-bluey System Winner 2005 UK Mail Award, and BFPO 2007 UK Mail Award for Technology.
The e-bluey equipment was maintained by Technical Support Services (TSS), a department within BFPO London, since its inception.
The e-bluey service ceased in April 2017. It was replaced by the INtouch message service.
One of the services that is provided by some of the British Forces Post Offices is the issuing and cashing of postal orders. A British postal order issued at a forces post office is very sought after by collectors of postal orders.
A postal order issued by a BFPO in a Commonwealth country, such as the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, is regarded as being a part of the numismatic and notaphilic history of that country.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle make mention of messengers being sent by King Edward the Elder (899–924) to recall members of the Kent fyrd,but it is generally regarded that the origins of the postal services stem from the King's Messengers (Nuncii et Cursores) of medieval times. In particular the Royal Post established in the reign of King Edward IV (1461–83) to support his troops engaged in a war against Scotland.
A dedicated military postal unit, the Army Post Office Corps was formed in 1882. In 1913 it was subsumed into the Royal Engineers as the Royal Engineers (Postal Section) and in late 1990s became the BFPO. Today, all services are provided by BFPO.
A postal code is a series of letters or digits or both, sometimes including spaces or punctuation, included in a postal address for the purpose of sorting mail.
Postal codes used in the United Kingdom are known as postcodes. They are alphanumeric and were adopted nationally between 11 October 1959 and 1974, having been devised by the General Post Office. A full postcode is known as a "postcode unit" and designates an area with a number of addresses or a single major delivery point.
The London postal district is the area in England of 241 square miles (620 km2) to which mail addressed to the LONDON post town is delivered. The General Post Office at the control of the Postmaster General directed Sir Rowland Hill to devise the area in 1856 and throughout its history has been subject to gradual periodic reorganisation and division into increasingly smaller postal units, with the early loss of two compass points and a minor retraction in 1866. It was integrated by the Post Office into the national postcode system of the United Kingdom during the early 1970s and corresponds to the N, NW, SW, SE, W, WC, E and EC postcode areas. The postal district has also been known as the London postal area. The County of London was much smaller at 117 square miles (300 km2), but Greater London is much larger at 607 square miles (1,570 km2).
Royal Mail Group plc is a postal service and courier company in the United Kingdom, originally established in 1516. The company's subsidiary Royal Mail Group Limited operates the brands Royal Mail (letters) and Parcelforce Worldwide (parcels). General Logistics Systems, an international logistics company, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Mail Group. The group used the name Consignia for a brief period in the early 2000s, before reverting to its original name.
This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the Falkland Islands.
An aerogram, aerogramme, aérogramme, air letter or airletter is a thin lightweight piece of foldable and gummed paper for writing a letter for transit via airmail, in which the letter and envelope are one and the same. Most postal administrations forbid enclosures in these light letters, which are usually sent abroad at a preferential rate. Printed warnings existed to say that an enclosure would cause the mail to go at the higher letter rate.
The postal counties of the United Kingdom, now known as former postal counties, were postal subdivisions in routine use by the Royal Mail until 1996. The purpose of the postal county – as opposed to any other kind of county – was to aid the sorting of mail by differentiating between like-sounding post towns. Since 1996 this has been done by using the outward code of the postcode instead. For operational reasons the former postal counties, although broadly based on the counties of the United Kingdom, did not match up with their boundaries: in some cases there were significant differences. The boundaries changed over time as post towns were created or amended.
The Postcode Address File (PAF) is a database that contains all known "Delivery Points" and postcodes in the United Kingdom. The PAF is a collection of over 29 million Royal Mail postal addresses and 1.8 million postcodes. It is available in a variety of formats including FTP download and compact disc, and was previously available as Digital Audio Tape. As owner of the PAF, Royal Mail is required by section 116 of the Postal Services Act 2000 to maintain the data and make it available on reasonable terms. A charge is made for lookup services or wholesale supply of PAF data. Charges are regulated by Ofcom. It includes Small User Residential, Small User Organisation and Large User Organisation details. There have been requests as part of the Open Data campaign for the PAF to be released by the government free of charge.
Poste restante, also known as general delivery in North American English, is a service where the post office holds the mail until the recipient calls for it. It is a common destination for mail for people who are visiting a particular location and have no need, or no way, of having mail delivered directly to their place of residence at that time.
An address is a collection of information, presented in a mostly fixed format, used to give the location of a building, apartment, or other structure or a plot of land, generally using political boundaries and street names as references, along with other identifiers such as house or apartment numbers and organization name. Some addresses also contain special codes, such as a postal code, to make identification easier and aid in the routing of mail.
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus. The areas, which include British military bases and installations, as well as other land, were retained by the British under the 1960 treaty of independence, signed by the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey and representatives from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, which granted independence to the Crown colony of Cyprus. The territory serves an important role as a station for signals intelligence and provides a vital strategic part of the United Kingdom communications gathering and monitoring network in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Following UK permission, the United States was given a limited, short-term presence on the British bases between 2013 and 2017.
A post town is a required part of all postal addresses in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and a basic unit of the postal delivery system. Including the correct post town in the address increases the chance of a letter or parcel being delivered on time. Post towns in general originated as the location of delivery offices. As of 2004, their main function is to distinguish between localities or street names in addresses not including a postcode.
Military mail, as opposed to civilian mail, refers to the postal services provided by armed forces that allow serving members to send and receive mail.
The Isle of Man Post Office, which formerly used the trading name Isle of Man Post, operates postal collection, ancillary mail services, philatelic goods and delivery services and post office counter services on the Isle of Man.
Loamshire Regiment is a placeholder name used by the British Army to provide examples for its procedures. For example, the Loamshire Regiment is provided by the British Forces Post Office to show how to write a British Army address, and is used to set out specimen charges for violations of military law. It is used in Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard's Sniping in France, a World War One manual for training British Army sharpshooters.
Using violence towards his superior officer contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Army Act 1955 in that he at- on- [struck] [punched] [kicked] No 12345678 Sergeant J Brown, The Loamshire Regiment.
The G postcode area, also known as the Glasgow postcode area, is a group of postcode districts centred around Glasgow in Scotland.
The SW postcode area, also known as the London SW postcode area, is a group of postcode districts covering a broad radial swathe of southwest London, England as far as Mortlake, Streatham and Raynes Park. The area straightforwardly succeeds a shorter-lived South Western (SW1–SW10) and Battersea (SW11–SW20) split between its components of the London post town.
Four digit post codes were introduced in Cyprus on 1 October 1994. The system is organised around the six administrative districts for local government on the island, with each district allocated a numerical range. Most of the four digit numbers are allocated to small geographic areas, such as streets, urban communes or villages, although some are reserved for government use.
The postal service of the British Army is today provided by the British Forces Post Office but its origins may be traced back to Saxon times.
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