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You’re receiving someone else’s mail

People sometimes receive mail through their letterbox that is meant for someone else. This may be for someone who used to live at your address or it may have been delivered to you by mistake.

This page explains what you should do if you’re receiving someone else’s mail.

Top tips

You should never open post that is not addressed to you, even if it has come through your letterbox. It is against the law to open, destroy, hide or delay any post that is addressed to someone else.

What to do if you’re getting mail addressed to someone else

If you receive mail showing the correct address but in someone else’s name, they maybe used to live at your address.

If you know the address that the person has moved to, you can forward the mail to them. To do this, you should:

  • cross out the address on the front of the envelope with a pen
  • write on the front of the envelope: "NO LONGER AT THIS ADDRESS, PLEASE FORWARD" and then write their new address
  • place the letter back in the post box, which is free of charge

Royal Mail will charge extra postage and may charge a handling fee for forwarding an item if it's been opened before being re-posted, if the name of the original addressee has been covered or obscured or if it's forwarded by a business. Mail originally sent using Special Delivery or Recorded Signed For services will either be delivered or returned to the sender and extra postage and/or a handling fee will be charged.

If you don't recognise the name or don't know the previous occupier’s address, you should:

  • score through the address with a pen
  • write on the front of the envelope: "NOT KNOWN AT THIS ADDRESS, RETURN TO SENDER"
  • place it back into a post box, which is free of charge

If there is no return address visible, Royal Mail has a returned letter centre in Belfast where they are allowed to open the mail in an attempt to identify the sender so they can return it. The returned letter centre can add these details to their database and the unwanted mail should stop. If they can't identify who the mail should be sent to, the item will be destroyed.

What to do if you’re getting mail that is addressed wrongly

If mail with a different address has been mistakenly put through your letter box, it has been misdelivered. This can sometimes happen where your address is very similar to another address.

You should:

  • mark the front of the letter: "MISDELIVERED" and write the address it was delivered to
  • place it back into a post box, which is free of charge

You can also report the problem to the Royal Mail on 08457 740 740 (Textfone 08456 000 606).

Next steps

Other useful information

Report a problem to the Royal Mail on 08457 740 740 (Textfone 08456 000 606).

Citizens Advice

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