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A question about Royal Mail's opt-out scheme and the six week wait

23rd April 2012

Does it really take six weeks before a registration with Royal Mail's opt-out becomes active? And, if so, does that mean I need to re-register after 2 years plus six weeks?

Dr Junk Buster's answer: 

My understanding is that a registration with the Door-to-Door Opt-Out becomes effective from the date your registration is processed by the opt-out administrators. Six weeks is the deadline – it will usually take less than six weeks. (That said, at times when junk mail is in the news and opt-out forms are coming in hard and fast it may take more than six weeks.)

After your address has been marked as 'opted out' by the admin team in Oxford they'll let your local sorting office know you've opted out. How long it takes before your postie actually stops delivering unaddressed mail items depends on how organised your local office is. It's not at all unusual for local offices to 'forget' to let postmen know about opt-outs.

Registrations should expire two years from the date of registering, though it wouldn't surprise me if they use the date you signed the form as the start date, in which case registrations would expire after two years minus six weeks. You may want to contact the Oxford office (phone 01865 796 964 or send an e-mail to to ask on what date your registration will end.

A better option is to re-register every 12 or 18 months. Should your registration expire you would need to go through the same process again – and put up with unsolicited leaflets for another six weeks. If you make sure to re-register before your registrations expires there is no 'break'.

As an aside, the Door-to-Door Opt-Out is about to expire itself. Before the end of this month (April 2012) it should be merged with the Your Choice Preference Scheme (another opt-out scheme for unaddressed junk mail, run by the Direct Marketing Association). It's not yet clear what policy they'll adopt. Registrations with Your Choice never expire, and just this month they decided that registrations with the Mailing Preference Service will also be valid until the end of time. [ The scheme that was to replace the existing opt-out schemes for unaddressed mail, named the Door-Drop Preference Service, wasn't launched in April 2012. Instead the Direct Marketing Association and DEFRA started a row, and the scheme was quietly ditched some time in 2014. JB, June 2015 ]

Last updated: 
18th June 2015