KNOWLEDGE BASE Direct Mail Marketing In The UK

The information on this page was current at the time it was published. Regulations, trends, statistics, and other information are constantly changing. While we strive to update our Knowledge Base, we strongly suggest you use these pages as a general guide and be sure to verify any regulations, statistics, guidelines, or other information that are important to your efforts.


January 31st, 2020 Update: On March 29, 2017, UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, which formally started the process whereby the UK would leave the European Union. The original plan was for the UK to leave the EU on March 29th, 2019 but on October 28th, 2019, the EU agreed to push the extension deadline to January 31, 2020. 

The council agreed to conclude the withdrawal, and it  took effect at midnight on January 31st, 2020. After this date, the UK is no  longer an EU member state. This will obviously shift how business is done in the UK. We will keep updating this page to reflect these changes. 

Learn more about Brexit here. 


Direct Mail Marketing Regulations In The UK


What laws and regulations apply?

If you send mail to named individuals, you must comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA). You cannot avoid your DPA obligations by addressing the mail to “the occupier” or “the homeowner” because you are still processing the individual’s personal data behind the scenes. Mail marketing must comply with most general regulations, guidelines, and codes on marketing and advertising. Because the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations (PECR) apply to electronic communications, they are not applicable to mail marketing.


How do I comply with the DPA?

The DPA requires that an individual knows that you have her contact details and that you intend to use them for marketing purposes. You must have obtained her information fairly and lawfully. You cannot send mail to an individual for marketing purposes if you originally obtained her contact details for a different purpose, e.g., market research. You cannot send marketing mail to an individual who has objected to or opted out of receiving such messages.

An individual can register her address with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS), which is similar to the Telephone Preference Service or the Facsimile Preference Service. The DPA does not specifically require you to check your mailing list against the MPS, but it is considered good practice and is required by the Direct Marketing Association Code and the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code).


If you are sending mass marketing mail to all addresses in an area and do not know the identity of the people at the addresses, you are not processing personal data and therefore have no obligations under the DPA. You are likely required to comply with all other regulations and codes on marketing and advertising.


What are the risks of non-compliance?

The Information Commissioner’s Office is charged with the enforcement of the DPA. Any breach of the DPA could result in an Enforcement Notice, which if not complied with, could result in criminal prosecution. The imposition of a fine of up to?500,000 could be imposed for the most serious breaches of the DPA. The Information Commissioner’s Office provides regularly updated information on its enforcement actions online.


Globig Resources

Data Protection Act

Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations

Mailing Preference Service

Telephone Preference Service

Facsimile Preference Service

Direct Marketing Association Code

UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing

KNOWLEDGE BASE Direct Mail Marketing In The UK