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What are postal orders?

Postal orders are a way to send money to someone, as a gift or payment. They look and work a lot like cheques, but you don’t need a bank account to use them.

  • Send from as little as 50p up to £250

  • No need for a bank account or to share your financial details

  • Pay your bills or shop by mail order

How postal orders work

The payee’s name is always required on a postal order and can be printed if you wish. Orders can either be crossed, so the payee can only pay them into their bank account, or uncrossed, to be used as cash.

Uncrossed postal orders

Uncrossed postal orders are as good as cash. Like cash, they’re also unsecure.

You can use them to buy mail order items or from on auction sites like eBay without handing over your financial details. Buy a postal order for the value of your item and send it by post to the seller. They can then cash it – potentially when sending your purchase to you (though, in many cases, your item will arrive earlier).

Crossed postal orders

Crossed postal orders can only be paid into the recipient’s bank account, savings account or used to pay bills at a Post Office branch. If you wish, our branch team can cross your postal order when you buy it.

A crossed order has two straight, vertical lines passing through it, just off centre. These are added electronically so it can’t be cashed in branch. Anyone attempting this will be referred to their bank.


There’s a fee when buying postal orders, which varies depending on their value.

Purchase value per order  Fee payable 
50p - £4.99 50p
£5 - £9.99 £1
£10 - £99.99 12.5% of the face value
£100 - £250 (maximum value) Capped at £12.50


Is a postal order what you need?

A postal order may suit if:

  • You need to make a payment or send cash gifts

  • You’re wary of handing over your personal financial details

  • You don’t have a bank account or a cheque book

Consider something else if:

  • You’re happy to pay by cheque or other means that require a bank account

  • You need to pay for goods and services outside the UK

Find a local branch

We've 11,500 Post Office branches in communities across the UK. Let's find those nearest to you.

Common postal order questions

  • It’s an admin charge for the service, not a fee for insurance.

  • It’s not a requirement to ask for proof of your identity if you’re cashing a postal order. However, branch teams may ask you to show some ID as an extra precaution.

  • If you need a hand, find your nearest branch and pop in. Our team there will be happy to help.

  • No, a name is required regardless of whether the postal order is crossed or uncrossed. To determine if a postal order is crossed, look for two vertical lines passing through the postal order. These may have been added electronically or by hand. If they have the order can only be paid into the bank or savings account of the named recipient.

  • If you postal order has been lost in the post you’ll need to get a P58 (lost post form) from a branch and send it off to Royal Mail (their address is on the form) along with a photocopy of your proof of purchase. You’ll need to wait 15 days after posting before you can do that.

    Remember to hold on to your original postal order receipt, as we’ll need the unique ID number should you wish to claim for the loss. See instructions below.

    If your postal order is stolen, please report it to the police and get a Crime Reference Number, as the police will need to contact us with this. 

  • Read more FAQs

Need some help?

Postal orders help and support

For help with refunds, missing or expired postal orders, answers to common questions or to contact us with a different enquiry:

Visit our postal orders support page

Postal order terms and conditions

A Postal Order is issued in accordance with the relevant Scheme or Schemes made under Section 112 of the Postal Services Act 2000 or any re-enactment thereof.


Please note the following below:

  1. It is recommended that an Order is crossed whenever possible. A crossed Order will only be paid through a bank

  2. The Order may be cashed at a Post Office if it has not been crossed

  3. Payment maybe refused and the Order impounded if it has any erasures, alterations, or it is cut, defaced or fails Post Office Ltd system validation check

  4. Postal Orders expire 6 months from the date of issue. Thereafter payment shall be at Post Office Ltd's absolute discretion. Evidence of identity must be provided if requested by the paying officer


Post Office and the Post Office logo are registered trademarks of Post Office Limited. Issued in the UK by Post Office Ltd.