How to Stop Junk Mail In The UK

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Sick of unsolicited catalogues and letters? Find out how to stop junk mail from being delivered to your door in the UK with my handy guide.

Junk mail is one of my biggest bugbears. All those precious natural resources are taken up to make these mailings which just end up in the bin the minute they enter your home.

Lately, I’ve taken it on as my own personal mission to stop as much junk mail as possible coming into my house. As such, I’ve found the best places to sign up to help prevent the flow of junk coming through your letterbox.

Before we dive in, first, let me warn you, the direct marketing field is a huge money-making machine. Royal Mail wouldn’t even pause delivering junk mail during the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, organisations make it as difficult as possible for you to opt out of direct mailing.

Don’t let it deter you though, I’ve got six handy ways to stem the flow as much as possible.

How to Stop Junk Mail In The UK

Traditional style red front door on sandstone period property with a blue text box that reads handy steps you can take to help stop junk mail.

I’ve been doing a ton of research to find out how to stop this barrage of unwanted mail. Here are my six top tips. Use the quick links to jump to a specific section or keep scrolling for the full post:

Opt-Out Of Direct Mailings Online

If you are receiving unwanted mail from a company that you have shopped with in the past, or registered with at some point then you can usually take action pretty easily.

Simply log in to their website, and find the section that allows you to update your communication preferences. You should, in theory, be able to opt out of direct mailings. You should be able to switch to email only, or opt-out of all communications. Do note that some companies can take up to 12 weeks for these changes to come into place, so results may not be instantaneous.

Return Unwanted Mail

If you are unable to opt out of junk mail online, then you can return your unwanted mail.

We used to get so much unwanted mail from a certain high street retailer. As well as not being a particularly ethical high street shop, I found the hard way that if you bought something online from this store, then it automatically put your name on its catalogue distribution list. The store then proceeded to send me what felt like at least one catalogue a fortnight.

My partner also found himself on that same mailing list, so it came to be that we were receiving two copies of the same catalogue every fortnight. Despite our best efforts, we seemed unable to stop junk mail from the company’s website.

If you are in a similar predicament with direct mailings from a retailer, you can return any personally addressed junk mail to the sender. Just cross through your address, and add a note to the envelope asking to be removed from their mailing list. Then put it in the post box. You don’t need to add a stamp – I never do. Most companies get the message quite quickly and you won’t receive any more unsolicited mail.

Others, like the store I dealt with, are a bit slower on the uptake. It took about 3 months of me returning every brochure that was sent to us before it took us off of its mailing list.

Sign Up For The Mail Preference Service

Next on your checklist for stopping junk mail is to sign up for the Mail Preference Service.

This is a free service that you can use to get your name and address removed from lists used by companies to market their products. This means you should receive no junk mail addressed to you personally from companies that use lists to send out direct marketing materials.

However, signing up to the Mail Preference Service is not a one-stop solution. It doesn’t stop mail addressed “to the householder” or “to the occupier”. Nor does it prevent unaddressed junk mail from being delivered, or junk mail originating from abroad.

Sign Up for the Fundraising Preference Service

Are you feeling overwhelmed by unwanted marketing contact from a charity? If the charity in question is registered in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland then you can sign up for the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS). After signing up, it takes around 21 days to stop receiving communications from the charity.

The FPS does not apply to charities registered in Scotland. This is because Scottish charities fall under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel (SFSP). If you are receiving a high volume of unwanted mail from a Scottish charity then you can go through the SFSP complaints process to stop this mail.

Use A No Junk Mail Sticker

The next step you can do is to put a “no junk mail”, or “no circulars” sticker or sign on your letterbox. This will help remind people, such as local fast food shops, not to put circulars through your letterbox. You can find no junk mail stickers on Etsy from around £3.

Note, that the use of a no junk mail sticker won’t stop the delivery of free newspapers. You’ll have to add a “no free newspapers” sign on your letterbox as well. I know, it’s ridiculous. I told you junk mail is big business.

Opt-Out Of Direct Mailings With Royal Mail

A no junk mail sticker will not prevent the postman from putting junk mail through your letterbox. This is because posties are contractually obligated to give you any junk mail that companies have paid Royal Mail to deliver.

To stop the postman from delivering junk mail to you, you have to opt out via the Royal Mail website. I’ve found that Royal Mail makes this unnecessarily difficult because Royal Mail gets paid to deliver junk mail, so it’s not in its best interests. You have to download a form, which you then have to fill in and send it back to them via the mail. Not email, because you know, it’s not 2024!

It’s certainly less long-winded than it used to be. However, it’s important to bear in mind that this process lets you opt out of junk mail for two years only. After two years, you then have to re-contact Royal Mail and go through the whole rigmarole again.

Final Thoughts

You probably won’t manage to stop every piece of junk mail from coming into your home. However, following these six steps should hopefully significantly reduce the amount of junk landing on your doormat.

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below! I’ve also got a handy post on how to recycle window envelopes that might come in handy, as well as information on how to donate used stamps to charity.

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  1. In case it’s useful there’s a free daily blog on how to stop junk mail and plant trees at Stop Junk Mail.

  2. Why can’t junk mail be banned altogether? It is a collossal waste of resources (according to one TV programme, about six million cubic tons of paper and three-quarters of a million gallons of printing ink per year, and that’s just a conservative estimate!) and is already rendered obsolete by websites alone. A few hundred pounds per annum for a decent website whereas small cowboy-type tuppeny-halfpenny ‘companies’ spend £5,000 per annum on junk mail! No wonder British business is the laughing stock of the world! When was the last time anyone saw large and global companies such as ICI use junk mail? Answer-NEVER!)

    My solicitor asked an interesting question on this; why can’t people have a life opt-out of all junk mail? According to his research and speaking to magistrates on this matter, Royal Mail regulations DO NOT constitute a point of law and can be overidden by law. Under the Human Rights Act, it is illegal to harass people with unsolicited mail, it is also an offence under the ‘Protection From Harassment Act, 1997’. There is also a clause in the Bill of Rights, 1688/89 which forbids political pamphletting to homes (so no more boring political paperwork then) and could be used to also stop all other junk mail.

    Fairly recently there was a Select Committee on this matter (my solicitor’s MP was on this one) and the Direct Marketing Association said they’d try to cut down on junk mail by getting non-members to become members of their organisation but this was just a ploy to stave off complaints by the public. The Royal Mail said if they didn’t have junk mail they would have to keep on putting up prices of stamps (but they do this already even with junk mail!). Junk mail is ‘Business Mail’ according to their £6million per annum salary Chief Executive from Canada, Moira Green. She was no good with the Canadian National Postal Service she apparently used to work for and much the same with Royal Mail!).

    Let’s have a petition to force parliament to fully abolish junk mail or at least let us form a public party which can include abolishing junk mail as one of it’s policies designed to garnish major public support. I guarantee you any political party MP worth his or her salt and not wanting to lose their pay, pension and public paid perks would be forced to support junk mail abolition. Over to everyone else as to their views etc.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. I am fed up with the Virgin Media junk mail. I now send it back along with lots of other unwanted mail in an A4 envelope without a stamp on it. This means that they have to pay the unpaid postage at the large letter rate.

    1. I got a Virgin Media circular just yesterday – it’s so annoying, That’s a great tip – going to start doing that – the unpaid postage fee is pretty high! If more people do it they might get the message!

  4. I don’t know anyone that isn’t besieged by Virgin Media junk mail. It’s really put me off ever considering signing up for their services if we moved to an area that they covered.

  5. How bizarre that you wrote about this now, I was just talking to someone on Twitter the other day about how we get lots of Virgin junk mail (even though we’ve been customers with them for 5 years now).

    I agree that the Royal Mail process is long winded too – and its frustrating that to stop the Virgin Media junk that we’d have to go through that process when part of their company already knows that we are their customers, bah! I’ll do it one day too eventually.