THOSE looking to send Christmas gifts to loved ones across the world are advised to get their shopping done early.

The Royal Mail has issued its guidance for last postal dates to send parcels, letters and cards on time.

The advice is to send early, write a clear postcode and include a return address, just in case.

Simon Barker, Royal Mail’s UK process operations director, said: “Christmas is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail and our customers. As we do every year, we are encouraging people to post and order presents early to help us spread the workload in the run up to Christmas. The postcode is critical at this time of year - it really does make a difference. We are asking everyone to help our hardworking postmen and women by using the postcode, writing clearly on their cards and parcels and including a return address just in case."

The recommended last posting dates for Christmas are:

  • Tuesday, December 18 for second-class mail
  • Thursday, December 20 for first-class mail
  • Saturday, December 22 for special delivery

To send international mail, the Royal Mail says post needs to be sorted by:

  • For Africa and Middle East - December 4
  • For Cyprus, Malta, Asia, Far East and Eastern Europe (except Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) - December 7
  • For Caribbean, Central and South America - December 8
  • For Greece, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand - December 10
  • For Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland and the USA - December 14
  • For Finland and Sweden - December 15
  • For Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland - December 17
  • For Belgium, France, Ireland and Luxembourg - December 18

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