Veterinary Diagnostics:

Important information about Royal Mail Services

Published: 3rd August 2020

The VPG has a privately-owned courier network which covers the UK and Ireland extensively to ensure that all types of samples from our veterinary clients are delivered at no charge in a timely and reliable manner to our six veterinary laboratories located in Hitchin, Leeds, Bristol, Exeter, Ringwood and Cork. We are continuing to develop these courier runs and currently cover the majority of our clients. In remote areas we may use third party couriers which will not be affected by these changes.  If your samples are already picked up by VPG Couriers there is no need to read this letter further.

For those clients who remain outside our courier range/runs and who have been using postage paid Royal Mail labels to deliver samples, the following information is of importance.

Despite the challenges faced by our industry and the wider economy we have recently been notified by Royal Mail – the following:

  1. Royal Mail is enforcing SYNLAB VPG to migrate to a Tracked Returns Service which will impact patient samples and all biological substances.
  2. The requirement to use the Tracked Returns Service is being enforced upon all users that require a business response for such samples, this includes all our competitors.
  3. The consequence of using the Tracked Returns Service will invariably lead to an increase in the cost of transporting such samples which the Royal Mail customer is expected to meet. Accordingly, the increased costs of the Tracked Returns Service will mean a price increase for postal deliveries.

It is important to note that the proposed changes are being mandated by Royal Mail and therefore are outside of SYNLAB VPG’s control. All companies transporting samples within this industry will be subject to the same process and will be mandated to conform accordingly.

Priority Response / Business Response Service from the Royal Mail

Royal Mail have introduced a new Medical Sample Tracked Return Service to replace the use of priority response or business response labels for biological samples.  This new service and the restrictions that are imposed within it will apply to UK based SYNLAB VPG laboratories and all other veterinary clinical pathology laboratories within the UK.

The new tracked service offers enhanced tracking of your samples through the postal system via a unique bar code.  In utilising the new tracked service Royal Mail also offer compensation of up to £100 for any packages that go missing through the postal system. Upon sending any samples, please take a note of your bar code so that in the unlikely event a sample does go missing we can access compensation on your behalf.

This new system is for clinical pathology samples only and histology samples sent direct or via any of the UK SYNLAB VPG labs to VPG|Histology will need to be sent using different arrangements (see below “Histology”).

How the Medical Sample Tracked Return Service works

Starting  21st August our priority response and business response labels will be removed from our website.  A link to the Royal Mail portal will be available on our website so you can print your own returns labels or you can visit a Royal Mail Delivery Office and access Labels to Go, where they will print the label for you.  Alternatively, if you prefer, labels are available via our labs, just call and place an order.

Package sizes are limited to 300mm x 200mm x 30mm and weigh less than 1kg.  They should comply with all postal regulations for biological samples.  The (UN3373) labels are available to print on our website along with a postal regulations guide and a Royal Mail Tracked Returns – ‘How to’ guide.

Your packages need to be placed in a post box or sent via a Royal Mail Delivery Office (as described above).  This service is not designed to be accessed via a Post Office, packages sent this way will incur an additional charge.

Charges are only applied when the bar code is scanned into the Royal Mail system, therefore you do not need to print labels one at a time, labels can be printed in batches and kept until required.

You will need to add a unique code when printing labels on the Royal Mail website.  This is your practice code and can be found on your monthly invoice.  Please see the Royal Mail Tracked Returns – ‘How to’ guide for more information.


The new service offers increased traceability and compensation.  This has been reflected in the charge to us from Royal Mail to use the service.  In view of this, we will need to pass some of this increased charge to our clients.  This is not the full price for using the service (we will subsidise a proportion of the cost).  Therefore, from August 21st 2020, for each package received via the Medical Samples Tracked Returns Service a fee of £1.50 will be added to your monthly invoice.


Histology samples cannot be sent using the Medical Samples Tracked Returns Service

Histology samples can be sent directly to VPG Histology or via any other UK based SYNLAB VPG Laboratory using DHL.  Please contact your SYNLAB VPG laboratory to arrange a collection.  We will subsidise this and the charge to you will be only £3.00 for this service.

For those practices who wish to send Histology samples via post, they will need to contact us to make arrangements. 

As noted above, our VPG private couriers will deliver all histology samples at no charge.

Old Labels

Once this new system is in place, please destroy our old priority response or business response  labels as this service will be stopped shortly afterwards and after 60 days Royal Mail will not guarantee delivery of these packages. If you have stickered jiffy bags from us, please call us and we can send your new labels to put over the top.

Other Courier arrangements

This will only affect those practices using the Royal Mail Priority response or Business response service – no other courier arrangements will be affected.

Please note again that we are developing our private courier runs pro-actively and if you have been relying on the Royal Mail, please contact us and we will  reassess the location of your practice in relation to our couriers and do our best to incorporate your practice into one of our courier runs.

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