How to Choose the Best Courier For Your Business: DPD vs. Royal Mail

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Your ecommerce business is set up, and you’ve received your first order. Congratulations! Now, all you need to do is choose which courier company you’ll use to ship goods to customers. 

This decision is more important than you might think. Different couriers come with different benefits and costs, so you should carefully weigh your business needs against the available shipping options

Two of the most common couriers in the UK are DPD and Royal Mail. To help you determine which is the best fit for your business, we’ll dive deep into the services, costs, and benefits of each, and compare them side by side.   

DPD vs. Royal Mail: simplified

Here is an overview of the key features and characteristics for the two parcel delivery service providers:

DPDRoyal Mail
What it isOne of Europe’s largest parcel delivery networks The UK’s national postal service
Best For:Ideal for shipping higher-value, heavier or larger orders, or international ordersMore cost-effective for smaller, lighter parcels shipped within the UK
DeliveryOffers more options for international deliveryOffers more delivery time windows and UK delivery options

A breakdown of DPD services

DPD (short for Dynamic Parcel Distribution) is one of the largest and most popular courier services in Europe. It is not part of Royal Mail, but a separate entity owned by Europe’s second-largest postal group, La Poste. 

Here is some basic information about the shipping giant’s services, offerings, and policies.

International coverage

DPD’s geographical coverage is extensive, with 70,000 pickup and drop off parcelshops across Europe alone. Businesses can ship to 230 countries, and choose from a variety of shipping services to find a delivery window that fits their needs. 

ServiceDescriptionShipping Timeline
DPD DirectShipping via partnerships with local couriers3-8 business days
DPD Air ClassicAir shipping2-5 business days
DPD ExpressExpress air or road shipping1-3 business days
DPD International Mail StandardStandard international shipping specifically for businesses sending 2 kg of mail per dayWithin Europe: 7-14 days To the rest of the world: 14-21 days
DPD International Mail PriorityExpedited international shipping specifically for businesses sending 2 kg of mail per dayWithin Europe: 2-7 days To the rest of the world: 6-10 days

DPD’s international shipping cost includes online tracking, £459.57 of insurance cover, and pick up from the consignor, and allows for DDU and DDP.

European coverage

For deliveries within Europe, DPD Classic enables Europe-wide shipping in 10 business days, depending on the destination, via road transport. The rates include live tracking, delivery prediction notifications, £459.57 of insurance cover, and pickup from consignor. 

For urgent shipments within the UK, there are also express delivery options such as:

ServiceDelivery Time
DPD 10:30Next-business day delivery by 10:30 am
DPD 12:00Next-business-day delivery by 12:00 pm
DPD 18:00Next-business-day delivery by 6:00 pm
DPD Saturday & SundayDelivery on Saturdays and Sundays

Cost per shipment

DPD’s next day delivery cost for 1 kg parcels is £22.23 per consignment for shipping within England, Scotland, and Wales. 

Premium bag for items weighing up to 5kgs:

DPD 10:30£23.47 to £26.99 per parcel
DPD 12:00£16.58 to £20.10 per parcel
DPD Next Day£9.68 to £13.19 per parcel
Saturday and Sunday Surcharge£26.24 to £36.68 per parcel

Parcels – For a single item weighing up to 30kg or up to 1 meter in length:

DPD 10:30£36.04 per consignment (inclusive of first 10kg) + £0.87 per kg
DPD 12:00£29.14 per consignment (inclusive of first 10kg) + £0.87 per kg
DPD Next Day£22.23 per consignment (inclusive of first 10kg) + £0.71 per kg
Saturday and Sunday Surcharge£38.66 per consignment (inclusive of first 10kg) + £0.71 per kg

Freight – for a single item weighing between 31 and 350kg:

DPD 10:30£60.57 per consignment (inclusive of first 31kg) + £0.89 per kg
DPD 12:00£49.36 per consignment (inclusive of first 31kg) + £0.89 per kg 
DPD Next Day£42.46 per consignment (inclusive of first 31kg) + £0.89 per kg
Saturday and Sunday Surcharge£67.67 per consignment (inclusive of first 31kg) + £0.89 per kg
International serviceRates
DPD Air ClassicEuropean destinations: £98.46 to £120.90 (up to 30 kgs), depending on the zone 

Non-European destinations: £54.56 to £79.86 (up to 30 kgs), depending on the zone 

DPD Express
European destinations: £51.23 to £60.54 (up to 0.5 kgs), depending on the zone

Non-European destinations: £64.11 to £93.99 (up to 0.5 kgs), depending on the zone  

All these rates have been sourced from DPD’s tariff card. Keep in mind that their delivery rates are exempt from VAT when comparing rates with other couriers.

Insurance options

Almost all shipping options offered by DPD offer up to £459.57 of coverage. In case your SKUs are worth more than that, you can opt for higher insurance. This option is available only for contract customers in combination with DPD Classic (by road) and DPD Home.

For DPD Classic, the extended insurance is charged at 1% of the value of goods, offering a maximum cover of £5,000 per consignment, and your business is allowed to add higher insurance to 20 parcels per calendar month.

With DPD Air Classic and DPD Express, the standard liability is $100 per parcel. As with DPD Classic, the insurance for DPD Air Classic and DPD Express can be extended by paying 1% of the value of the consignment.

Delivery policy

Under DPD’s delivery policy, the customer must acknowledge that:

  • DPD will not carry out any age verification upon delivery.
  • DPD cannot deliver to certain addresses, such as PO Boxes or BFPO numbers. 
  • DPD reserves the right to open, inspect, reject and/or destroy any and all Consignments for any reasonable reason (and are not liable for damage incurred during said opening)

DPD may impose additional restrictions or document requirements for shipping goods, depending upon the destination of delivery and/or the service.

For more about this and other policies (including the management of unclaimed and undelivered goods and liability for loss and damage and delay of goods), click here

A breakdown of Royal Mail services

Royal Mail is the main mail courier in the UK. Online retailers love and trust Royal Mail for its value-for-money delivery prices and wide range of shipping options.

Here is some basic information about Royal Mail’s services, offerings, and policies.

International coverage

While Royal Mail has limited international shipping coverage, it offers multiple different signing and tracking options. 

ServiceDescriptionShipping Timeline
International TrackedTracked to delivery point for peace of mind5-7 business days
International SignedTracking within the UK, and a signature on delivery5-7 business days
International Tracked and SignedAdded peace of mind for sending important or valuable items
Offers end-to-end tracking and signature upon arrival
Most expensive of the international options
5-7 business days
International StandardAn affordable service for everyday international mail6-7 business days
International EconomyFor heavier parcels that don’t need to arrive in a hurryDelivery by the end of 6 to 12 weeks

European coverage

Royal Mail’s Europe options are very similar to its International services, with the exception of shorter shipping times.

ServiceDescriptionDelivery Time
Royal Mail SamedaySame-day delivery for urgent itemsSame day
Royal Mail Tracked 24®Tracking to delivery point and next-day deliveryNext day
Royal Mail Tracked 48®Tracked to delivery point and delivered within 48 hours2 days
Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am®Delivery by 9am next dayNext day
Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm®Delivery by 1pm next-dayNext day
Royal Mail Signed For® 1st ClassSignature on delivery and next-day delivery aimNext day
Royal Mail Signed For® 2nd ClassSignature on delivery and delivered within 2-3 days2-3 days
Royal Mail 1st ClassNext-day delivery aim for letters and parcelsNext day
Royal Mail 2nd ClassDelivery in 2-3 business days for less urgent mail2-3 days

Cost per shipment

As with DPD, Royal Mail’s cost per shipment varies based on the type of parcel you’re shipping, its size, its destination, and your desired delivery time. 

Type of package

Length: 24cm-35.3cm
Width: 16.5cm-25
Weight limit: 100-750 gms
Length: 45cm-1.5m 
Width: 35cm-46cm
Weight limit: 2-30 kg


International– International Standard from £1.85
– International Tracked from £6.90
– International Tracked & Signed from £7.00
– International Standard from £4.64
– International Tracked from £7.88
– International Tracked & Signed from £9.09
UK– 1st Class from 95p
– 1st Class Signed For from £2.35
– 2nd Class from 68p
– 2nd Class Signed For from £2.08
– 1st Class from £3.95
– Tracked 24® from £4.45
– 2nd Class from £2.85
– Tracked 48® from £3.35

*These details have been sourced from Royal Mail’s website. All prices are in pounds.

UK-based retailers can enjoy special rates and gain access to tailored reports, by signing up for a Royal Mail Online Business Account (OBA). 

Insurance options

Royal Mail includes a certain amount of insurance coverage for each shipment, depending on the delivery plan you select.

ServiceCompensation cover up to
– Royal Mail 2nd Class
– Royal Mail 1st Class
– Royal Mail International Standard 
– Royal Mail International Economy
– Royal Mail Signed For 1st Class
– Royal Mail Signed For 2nd Class
– Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am
– Royal Mail International Tracked
– Royal Mail International Tracked & Signed
– Royal Mail International Signed
– Royal Mail Tracked 48
– Royal Mail Tracked 24
– Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1 pm£500

When sending valuable items such as money and jewelry, it is best to use Special Delivery Guaranteed, as you can seek out compensation up to £2500 by paying £9.35 to £21.45 (depending on the weight of the goods being shipped). 

Delivery policy

You can find Royal Mail’s standard terms and conditions as well as service-specific policies here.

DPD vs. Royal Mail: who to choose

Neither DPD nor Royal Mail is inherently better than the other. Rather, which service is best for your business will depend on what you’re shipping, where you’re shipping it to, and how fast you need it to arrive. 

DPD might be a good fit for business that:

  • Ship to many different countries (especially to those beyond Europe)
  • Regularly ships heavy parcels or items (such as furniture items)
  • Don’t mind paying extra for a premium shipping experience

On the other hand, Royal Mail may be a better choice for businesses that:

  • Ship smaller packages
  • Prefer a variety of delivery window options for orders within the UK
  • Want straightforward insurance coverage

ShipBob connects you with a powerful courier network

Whether you’re shipping to or from the UK, or somewhere else altogether, ShipBob can help you find the right couriers for your business.

ShipBob partners with DPD and Royal Mail, as well as other couriers like UPS and Evri, so that merchants can choose how they want to ship their orders. In addition to tracking courier updates and performance over time, ShipBob even negotiates bulk shipping discounts with major couriers, which our customers can leverage for cost-savings. 

Beyond last-mile logistics, ShipBob’s infrastructure and technology can help ecommerce merchants optimise their overall DTC and B2B shipping strategy, even in peak shipping seasons.  

With dozens of fulfilment centres across the globe, ShipBob enables merchants to store inventory closer to their customers, reducing both shipping distance and average shipping cost. 

In each of these locations, ShipBob’s proprietary WMS streamlines the fulfilment process to further shorten order lead times and optimise for cost. 

ShipBob customers also have access to our analytics dashboard, where you can track ship dates and progress on every order and gain real-time insights into shipping KPIs like average shipping performance, average days in transit, OTIF rates, top shipping methods, and more.

To learn more about how ShipBob can help you avoid shipping mistakes, and improve delivery management, click the button below. 

DPD vs. Royal Mail FAQs

Below are answers to common questions about DPD and Royal Mail.

What is the main difference between DPD and Royal Mail?

DPD’s courier services are generally more expensive, but are better-suited to shipping heavy or expensive goods. Royal Mail is the more affordable, especially for smaller packages, but is designed for shipments within the UK, with less international coverage.

Is DPD part of Royal Mail?

No, DPD and Royal Mail are entirely separate entities.

Should consumers use DPD or Royal Mail?

When it comes to online shopping, DPD is great for consumers that have shipments that are time-sensitive, and particularly large or expensive. Meanwhile, Royal Mail is a good option for consumers that are on a tight budget and are shipping within the UK.

What’s the best option for international shipping?

You can ship internationally to 230+ countries and territories with DPD and Royal Mail. For international shipments that are not too expensive, urgent, or big, Royal Mail may be your best choice. For expensive parcels, DPD offers better insurance coverage and parcel tracking.

How can I ship internationally and quickly from the UK?

To ship urgent orders to international customers from the UK, DPD Air Classic promises delivery in 2 to 5 business days, and Royal Mail’s International Standard promises delivery in 5 to 7 business days. 
Remember that ever since the pandemic, these timelines keep changing, so check the coronavirus updates before dispatching your orders.

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Written By:

Rachel is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she writes blog articles, eGuides, and other resources to help small business owners master their logistics.

Read all posts written by Rachel Hand