Candidate Mail

Candidate mail is, simply, a direct mailing campaign delivered to each household within a UK political constituency (if the mail is unaddressed), or each eligible voter in the constituency to which you are a candidate (if the household is addressed directly).

What is Candidate Mail?

At WDM, we are a mailing company with over 30 years experience in providing political mailing – such as political postcards and direct mail packs – and have provided print and mail services for many prospective MP candidates. We are an all-round mailing house provider, offering data management, design, print finishing and print direct mail services to spread your message far and wide. We will endeavour to raise awareness of your political campaign with our candidate mail services.

It’s important to note that, while there are, usually, no postage costs for your political mail campaign, as the candidate you will still have to pay for the design, printing and direct mail fulfilment.

There are two significant methods in which a prospective candidate can take advantage of political mailing services:

  1. The first option is to create your own direct mail – handling the design, artwork, printing and finishing, which can be a time-consuming process, and work with Royal Mail directly. If you opt for this option, you are strongly advised to read through all the information on this page and digest it thoroughly. This guidance is based on Royal Mail Candidate Mail advice and accurate to April 2017.
  2. Alternatively, you can work with an approved mailing house and supplier of candidate mail – such as WDM. We have the expertise and provide a dedicated team to produce the design, printing, finishing and direct mail fulfilment process on your behalf. To make things easier, we also handle all of the necessary legal work to ensure your mail is correct, artwork is approved, sorted and delivered to the right people.

Why Choose Washington Direct Mail?

We have worked closely with a large number of groups and individuals in the political sector and provided our services for their political mailing. We understand time is crucial with candidate mail, and work to a fast and efficient turnaround. Our in-house technology takes care of all sectors of your direct mailing and will reach their destination on time.

  • Low-cost services
  • Reliable and trusted mailing house
  • Experience in candidate mail
  • Fast turnaround
  • Personalised direct mail
  • 100% match mailing

Direct mail and variable printing needs of candidates are hugely complex. They require speed, scalable resources, on-site printing, automated folding, enclosing, hand packing and experience to get it right.

Who can use Candidate Mail?

There are three types of candidates entitled to candidate mail in a UK general election:

  1. Those for return as a constituency Member of Parliament (but they may, or may not, represent a political party)
  2. Independents standing as Regional Candidates
  3. Registered political parties who have submitted a Regional list

If you would like to know more about political mailings and how our candidate mail services can benefit your campaign – fill the form in below.

“WDM has it all here, in Gateshead, in the North East of England, and we look forward to helping candidates get their messages to the right audience on time, on budget and looking great.” Jon Beasley, Director

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Candidate Mail

What is ‘Addressed Mail?'

This is mail requiring an elector’s name and address with postcode. It can be personalised to reach electors individually.

What is ‘Unaddressed Mail?'

This is mail that does not require an elector’s name or address.

What can and can't my Candidate Direct Mail contain?

1) If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will work with you to ensure everything about your Candidate Mail message is correct according to the guidelines.

2) If you are working with Royal Mail directly, then Candidate Direct Mail artwork must be purely about the UK General Election concerned. There can be no advertising on campaign direct mail.

Candidate Direct Mail Artwork must meet all necessary legal requirements, as listed in the Representation of the People Act 1983, or the Scottish Parliament (Elections, etc.) Order 2015 (within Scotland), the National Assembly for Wales (Representation of the People) Order 2007 (within Wales), the Northern Ireland Assembly (Elections) Order 2001 (within Northern Ireland).

Candidate Mail must also avoid infringing any other relevant legislation, for example, The Malicious Communications Act 1988; Section 101 of the Postal, and the Services Act 2000 (as amended); Section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986.*

* “A person who publishes or distributes written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting is guilty of an offence if:

a) he/she intends thereby to stir up racial hatred, or

b) (b) having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.”

What am I allowed to send through Candidate Direct Mail?

1) If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will work with you to ensure the size and weight of your Candidate Mail is correct.

2) If you are working with Royal Mail directly then:

  • Every item in your candidate mailing must be 60g or under in weight.
  • Each item in your candidate mailing should be the same size and weight – between 140-240mm in length, 90-164mm in width and no thicker than 5mm.
  • Your candidate mailing can be a single sheet if unfolded, or a single or multi-sheet if folded, but either way, it must retain it’s presented format.

Is there an artwork checklist?

Yes there is:

 

1) If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will advise you on the artwork design of your Candidate direct mail and work with you to ensure the layout is correct.

 

2) If you are working with Royal Mail, your Candidate ‘addressed mail’:

  • Must have ‘Election Communication’, on the front of the artwork or the front of the envelope, or be able to be seen through a window in a font size of at least 10 points.
  • Must have space for the elector’s name (or the name of their proxy, full address and postcode on the front of the artwork).
  • Must have the Constituency, candidate name and/or Party name on the front of the artwork.
  • Must have the Printer’s and Promoter’s details on the face of the artwork (name, full address and postcode for each).
  • Must be addressed to only one elector

If you are working with Royal Mail, your Candidate ‘unaddressed mail’:

  • Must have ‘Election Communication’, on either the front of the artwork or on the front of the envelope used, or be able to be seen through a window in a font size of at least 10 points.
  • Must have the Constituency, candidate name and/or Party name on the front of the artwork.
  • Must have the Printer’s and Promoter’s details on the face of the artwork (name, full address and postcode for each).

If your final leaflet requires an area dedicated to showing a variable digitally printed message (for example, a message tailored to suit a local area or audience preferences) you must submit a final proof for approval showing the dedicated area for the variable messages, as well as a proof of each message variant.

You need to be aware that full approval will only be issued where Royal Mail has final versions of all artwork. Provisional items and drafts will only be checked in principle with feedback offered.

Is there a Candidate direct mail design and data checklist?

Yes there is:

  1. If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will advise you on the design of your Candidate direct mail and work with you to ensure all the data positioning, titles, etc are correct.
  2. If you choose to send Addressed mail yourself through Royal Mail, you can send one candidate mailing to every registered elector within a constituency.
  • Each leaflet can only be addressed to one person (ie: the elector or voter) and:
  • Must use folded or unfolded leaflets, and envelopes.
  • Must be addressed to each intended recipient (elector, or their appointed proxy) by name.
  • Must include the full address, including postcode.
  • Must use correct titles:
  • Acceptable ones include Mr A Smith, Miss C Smith, Ms C Smith, A Smith, Mr A Smith and Mrs B Smith, Mrs B Smith and Miss Smith i.e. Named individual persons only.
  • Unacceptable ones include The Tenant, The Smith Family, Mr and Mrs Smith and Family, Mr and Mrs Smith (or Occupier), All at…, or no name at all, i.e. Any title which is not directed to a registered elector.
  • Must use correct titles of all electors in the armed services (see the Armed services addressed mail section of Royal Mail’s Terms and Conditions for more details).
  • Must ensure the address and postcode are clear, legible and distinct from any other text.
  • Must have the Constituency, candidate name and/or Party name printed on the front of the candidate mailing.
  • You must also ensure the total volume posted for the constituency you are posting in does not exceed the number of registered electors.

How will the artwork be checked?

  1. If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will handle all the approval of your Candidate Mail to ensure it is correct.
  2. If you are working directly with Royal Mail you will need to email your artwork proof to the Artwork Checking Team:

artwork.checking@royalmail.com

Or post your artwork to:

Royal Mail
Artwork Checking Team
PO Box 1158
Sunderland
SR3 3ZX

When you send your final proof of your artwork, you will need to advise Royal Mail if it is to be sent as Addressed (Electionsort or Streetsort) or Unaddressed.  You will also need to confirm the size of your leaflet and if applicable, how it will be folded; and send Royal Mail a certified translation if your mailing is not in English or Welsh.

When your final proof artwork is approved, Royal Mail will send you a unique reference or ‘checking’ code as verification. Their Artwork Checking Team will keep a copy on file; along with the certified translation if it is in a language other than English or Welsh.

Your Approval Email:

Along with your checking code, Royal Mail will send you:

  • An EL1e certificate of posting form for completion
  • Your Election Manager(s) contact details for booking in
  • A list of ‘Drop Off Points’ for your Constituency
  • Volumes required for Unaddressed items – if applicable
  • Reminders detailing presentation and next steps

Only once you have received your approval and artwork checking code, you can send your mailing artwork to print.

Royal Mail will not take responsibility for any reprinting costs for material that is printed before artwork approval.

How do I get my printed candidate mail posted?

  1. If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will handle the completion and approval of your electronic EL1e certificate of posting form.
  2. If you are working directly with Royal Mail, you will now need to complete your electronic EL1e certificate of posting form, without which your mailing cannot be accepted, and this applies to both Addressed or Unaddressed Candidate Mail.

You need to complete an electronic EL1e form before you handover any printed material, so we recommend you submit this immediately upon approval.

If you can’t provide an electronic copy of the EL1e form, please contact Royal Mail Election Support Team who will assist you.

In addition to the single-mailing EL1e form, there is a Royal Mail EL1e form to cater for multiple mailings.

Royal Mail cannot accept incomplete EL1e forms, but their Election Support Team is on hand for any guidance you might need.

How do I sort my Addressed Candidate Mail?

  1. If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will handle all the sorting of your Candidate Mail.
  2. If you are handling the sorting of Addressed Candidate Mail yourself you have two options:

a) Electionsort

This is an automated system and is ideal if you are managing a large central print operation or have experience in bulk mailing.

Electionsort mailings are pre-sorted to individual postal walks, and must:

  • Be fully addressed and postcoded.
  • Be bundled to include items for a single delivery walk only.
  • Each printed bundle label* to include Drop Off Point, walk name and number, plus Delivery Office and volume within the bundle
  • Provide a planning report* and line listing* for each mailing

b) Streetsort

This system will need you to pre-sort your Candidate Mailing by street name and postcode, and must be:

  • Fully addressed and postcoded.
  • Bundled by street name, with one street per bundle.

Whichever Addressed Mailing option you choose, your Candidate Mailing must also:

  • Face the same way, and the same way up.
  • Be securely bundled using suitable material either single or double banded.
  • Be identified with a walk bundle label securely attached to the bundle for Electionsort.
  • Be in a box or bag for just one Delivery Office.
  • Not include anything other than election mail.
  • Not be bundled separately for absent voters.
  • Be separately bundled for British Forces Post Office (BFPO).
  • Weigh 11kg or less.
  • For Electionsort only, provide planning report and line listing.

It is your responsibility to present the mailing to Royal Mail correctly; this includes the supply of bands, bags and boxes.

If your Candidate Mailing requires some items less than 50 to go to a single Delivery Office, these can be placed in a sealed envelope with a correct label and attached securely to the top of one of your boxes.

Each box or bag needs to be labelled with:

  • Drop Off Point
  • Constituency name
  • Delivery Office name
  • Outward Postcode
  • Total Constituency volume
  • Political Party or Candidate name
  • Box Number (x of x e.g. 2 of 5)
  • Box Quantity

Following the submission of your electronic EL1e Royal Mail can accept your mailing.

How do I sort my Unaddressed Candidate Mail?

  1. If you are working with a Mailing House partner they will handle all the sorting of your Unaddressed Candidate Mail.
  2. If you are handling the sorting of Unaddressed Candidate Mail yourself you need to:
  • Use folded or unfolded leaflets, or envelopes.
  • Print ‘Election Communication’, the candidate’s name, with the constituency name on the front of the candidate mailing using a font size of at least 10 points.
  • Make sure your Unaddressed mailing doesn’t exceed the number of households in the constituency you are posting in.
  • Ensure that the volume of mail handed over to us matches the total number of delivery points to cover all households in the constituency you are posting in*.
  • Printer’s and Promoter’s details on the face of the artwork (name, full address and postcode).
  • Unaddressed items will be delivered within seven working days (which excludes Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays) not including the day of receipt at the Royal Mail Drop Off Point.

For more information about Royal Mail Drop Off Points, please visit www.royalmail.com/candidatemail

You can collect any excess items from Royal Mail but need to contact your Election Manager to find out how. Royal Mail will keep excess items for up to three days from the delivery completion date.

Any uncollected mailing after this time will be destroyed.

Your unaddressed Candidate Mail should all:

  • Face the same way and the same way up.
  • Be in bundles of 100 only.
  • Be securely banded using suitable material either single or double banded.
  • Be packaged separately for individual delivery offices.
  • Not include anything other than election mail.
  • Weigh 11kg or less.

Each box or bag must be labelled with:

  • Drop Off Point
  • Constituency name
  • Delivery Office name
  • Outward Postcode
  • Total Constituency volume
  • Political Party or Candidate name
  • Box Number (x of x e.g. 2 of 5)
  • Box Quantity

Following the submission of your electronic EL1e Royal Mail can accept your mailing.

* If you do not hand over sufficient items for all constituency households you are posting to, Royal Mail decides which households the items are delivered.

Do I need a mailing plan and how do I go about arranging one and having it approved?

  1. If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will handle the creation of your Candidate Mail mailing plan in conjunction with you.
  2. If you are handling the creation of a mailing plan yourself, you will need to contact your Election Manager to arrange it.

Once Royal Mail have given you approval for your Candidate Mail artwork, they will provide you with a reference (artwork checking) code and contact details for your Drop Off Point Manager (DOPM).

Please remember:

  • DOPMs can only organise hand over dates for mail that has been checked and given an artwork checking code by our Artwork Checking Team.
  • The earlier you book your Candidate Mailing in, the better the chance of your preferred date being available.
  • You need to give your DOPM a minimum of two working days’ notice of your intention to post your candidate mailing.
  • You will need to deliver your candidate mailing to Royal Mail Drop Off Points at the agreed date and time – your DOPM gives you details of these.
  • Every Drop Off Point has a finite daily capacity and when this is reached you will be offered an alternative date.
  • Alternative dates will only be offered when Royal Mail can accept the mailing. Acceptance times for your handover at Drop Off Points are usually restricted to Monday to Friday between 8 am and noon.
  • Subject to capacity constraints, you might be allowed to post small mailings to specific Royal Mail Drop Off Points; this must be agreed and arranged via the Drop Off Point Manager at your Drop Off Point. In this instance, the day Royal Mail receive the mailing from you will be considered the date of ‘Drop off’.

Royal Mail will aim to deliver Addressed candidate mail within three working days of drop off, and Unaddressed candidate mail within seven working days (this is excluding the handover day) to a specific Royal Mail Drop Off Point, Saturdays, Sundays or Bank Holidays.

When you drop off your Candidate Mailing:

  • Make sure you have emailed your EL1e form to our Election Support Team and Drop Off Point Manager.
  • If you have used Electionsort, you also need to provide the planning report and line listing generated by the database.
  • Your mailing will be checked to ensure it matches the original signed off and checked leaflet.
  • If correct, a Royal Mail representative at the Drop Off Point will provide a receipt for the posting. Remember, each box or bag must not weigh more than 11kg.
  • When you bring your mailing to the Royal Mail Drop Off Point, the Mail Verification Team double checks it to ensure it meets the specifications. If it doesn’t, they will contact you to advise.  If there is an error, you or your representative will need to collect the mailing, correct the error and resubmit. Alternatively, in some circumstances, Royal Mail will make the changes required, but there will be a charge for this service.

How long will it take to post my Candidate Mail?

Addressed items are delivered within three working days (which excludes Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays) not including the day of receipt.

Can deliveries be made on Polling Day?

No mailing can be delivered on polling day.

What are the Key Points of Contact for Candidate Mail?

  1. If you are working with a Mailing House partner, they will be your sole point of contact and handle all the communications necessary to ensure your Candidate Mailing is created, merged with data, approved, sorted, dropped off and delivered.
  2. If you are working with Royal Mail directly then your points of contacts will be:
  • Designer of your choice
  • Digital or Litho Printer of your choice
  • Postal Fulfilment and Sort provider of your choice
  • Royal Mail Election Support Team available on election.support@royalmail.com t: 08456 076 416
  • Royal Mail Artwork Checking Team available on artwork.checking@royalmail.com t: 08456 076 424
  • Drop Off Point Manager (DOPM) available on Contact details available from the Election Support Team

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