April 25, 2012
Post isn’t the only method of contact with your deployed service person, so click here to find out the other ways you can stay in touch.
How do I know where to send things?
Ask your service person for their BFPO address.
What is BFPO?
It is the British Forces Post Office, based in RAF Northolt. They send military mail for UK forces all over the world, to troops based in other countries, all military bases in the UK and to those serving on exercises and deployments where BFPO postal services are available. Think Royal Mail for our forces, but channelled through Royal Mail in the first instance, then handled by the RAF.
What are the BFPO numbers for Afghanistan?
Your service person will now have provided you with their address, which will include on the bottom line (or second to bottom above the HERRICK number) one of the following numbers: BFPO 715, BFPO 755, BFPO 758, BFPO 764, BFPO 772, BFPO 779, BFPO 792, BFPO 793, BFPO 795, BFPO 796 or BFPO 798. Each one of these numbers is for a different place in Afghanistan. Your service person may move during their tour of duty, but they will provide you with their new address as they will be given notice of it in advance. Keep it safe, and don’t post it online where everyone can see it. This goes for Facebook too!
What is a ‘Bluey’?
Blueys look like this. You can get them for free from your local Post Office. Stock up!
Blueys are forces air letters and are FREE to post to Afghanistan. Simply write the address – exactly as your service person tells you to, on the front of the bluey and pop your own address on the back, write your message inside and send. You can run them through printers to add pictures on, but you cannot put enclosures inside.
Can I send a normal letter, in a normal envelope? Do I need a stamp?
Yes, you can write a normal letter and yes you can pop it inside a normal envelope. You can also add enclosures, so photographs, more pages etc. You do not need a stamp, just write the address on the front and pop it into the post box. If it is too large or heavy then it might need weighing and stamping at the post office, but it will still be free if it is under 2kg.
What is an e-bluey?
An e-bluey is the modern day equivalent of a telegram. You write it on your computer, send it via the e-bluey website and it is printed out in the nearest printing machine to your service person, sealed in an envelope by that same machine (so that they are confidential) and sent to them straight away. An e-bluey can get to your friend or family member in as little as a quarter of the time as a regular bluey. Some people have even experienced a next-day service. Register to send an e-bluey.
I want to send a parcel to a BFPO address that is not Afghanistan (like Germany)
Click here for BFPO rates for non-frontline addresses and click here for Special Delivery rates for those times when you need your mail to be treated the same way as regular RM Special Delivery.
I want to send a parcel to Afghanistan. How much must it weigh?
Parcels must weigh under 2kg. Anything – and I mean anything – over 2kg will result in you having to unpack, remove items and repack. Your parcel will be free to post, but you cannot pay a fee for it if it is over, they will simply not accept it.
What can (and can’t) I send in my parcel?
Things offensive to Muslims (alcohol and pornography) are prohibited, as are aerosols and the usual prohibited items like explosives and weapons. They have enough of those anyway, so I wouldn’t imagine you would want to send those out! A selection of each parcel shipment is passed through scanners to check for prohibited items.
How big should my parcel be?
Shoebox size is universally accepted by family members to be about right, but it doesn’t really matter. As long as you stick under the 2kg maximum weight you’ll be fine. Buying a small pair of scales before they go on tour will save you the hassle of guessing the weight on your bathroom scales.
Help! I’m stuck for ideas for what to put in my parcel.
Enclosures they will have millions of, so save them for the ones living in the sticks
- Wet wipes
- Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner
- Deodorant (non aerosol)
- Cotton buds
- Batteries – these must be in their original sealed packet
- Sun cream (Summer tours only)
- Insect repellent with a heavy DEET presence (Summer tours only)
- Sanitary items for the ladies
- Snacks, crisps, sweets, tinned fruit etc
For the more personal parcels
- Joke presents. There is nothing quite like the military sense of humour, and Ann Summers do a hilarious range sure to lift morale
- Blow-up furniture. This goes down very well – see also mini blow up paddling pools
- Travel games (travel scrabble, chess, cards etc. Some websites will let you design your own playing cards)
- Magazines – Nuts, FHM, Zoo etc are out there already (provided for free) so be original in your choices
- Their favourite sweets, biscuits, popcorn, etc (chocolate is OK in Winter but melts in Summer)
- Savoury snacks like beef jerky, pepperami
- Foot soak for sore post-patrol feet, blistex
- Boxer shorts/pants for the girls
- Sports underwear (Underarmour do good stuff – see sports shops for ideas)
- Flags – they love these (whether favourite football team or country)
- Letters, or a note, or card
Where do I take it when I have finished sealing it?
To your local Post Office. There it will be weighed and you will have to fill out a customs declaration sticker saying what is inside, and off it goes! Ask your Post Office if you can take some customs declaration stickers home with you to save time.
I don’t know anyone serving in Afghanistan but I want to send a parcel out there to raise morale. How do I do it?
The MOD request that people do not send generic half-addressed parcels, and at certain times of the year, Christmas especially, parcels sent by well-wishers clog the system for families of service members stopping eagerly anticipated mail getting to the frontline. The RAF have a capacity that they can handle and too many really pushes them over their limit. There may be soldiers in each unit who do not have families sending them parcels regularly, but this is quickly picked up on by their fellow troops whose own families send extra so that no one goes without. The military is very good at looking after one another!
So you are saying I shouldn’t send a parcel?
No, if you really would like to send a parcel use Support Our Soldiers. They are the only Ministry of Defence approved charity who send parcels out to individual service people who have registered their details on SOS’ database. You won’t know who you are sending yours too, but if you are lucky you might get a thank you letter from the recipient, unless they are very busy of course! You can also donate to the charity or send individual items.
Would it be better to send a letter if I do not know them?
Yes. These raise morale far more than care packages, especially if you have an interesting story to tell.
What else can I do to raise morale?
Donate to ‘Beer for the Boys’ and buy a tired soldier a beer for their homecoming flight