‘While you were out’ rules to be relaxed

Rules preventing Royal Mail from leaving letters and parcels with neighbours while you’re out are expected to be lifted by industry regulator Ofcom within the next few weeks.

Rival post and courier services are already able to forgo the usual ‘while you were out’ cards and take a more practical approach to deliveries but the state run postal service is banned from doing so.

When the change takes effect, it will not be possible to choose which neighbour receives parcels on your behalf and postmen will not have to try every neighbour until they find one who is in.

Concerns have been raised about parcels being lost or even stolen but Royal Mail said that during a large-scale trial of the scheme there were no reports of this.

If a parcel does disappear and Royal Mail upholds the complaint, people will still be entitled to the standard compensation of £46.

Those who do not want to have their parcels taken in by neighbours, and do not want to take in their neighbours parcels, can opt out by ordering a sticker for their front door.

Special Delivery items and parcels from abroad are excluded from the scheme.