The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) is an agency that provides a postal service to HM Forces, separate from that provided by Royal Mail in the United Kingdom. BFPO addresses are used for the delivery of mail in the UK and around the world.
Below is an example of a BFPO address, using the fictitious Loamshire Regiment:
12345678 LCPL B Jones
1 Loamshire Regt
BFPO 61 is for Milan, Italy. Until the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, BFPO 1 was the address for British forces serving in the former colony. When sending mail from the UK to a member of HM Forces serving overseas, the sender must address it to the appropriate BFPO number, and not to the country in which that person is based. This is especially important as mail to BFPO addresses is often charged at the inland UK rate, and if it is addressed to an overseas destination with only UK postage attached, this will result in delays.
For security reasons, mail to civilian addresses in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland must be handed directly to BFPO staff, not placed in the post box, and must not have a return military address displayed on the envelope. In addition, mail to those destinations cannot be sent using the Bluey system.
In order to speed up the delivery from HM Forces, the BFPO has developed a hybrid form of mail, known as 'e-Bluey', in which letters can be sent directly by e-mail to the BFPO, and then dispatched to the recipient via the traditional postal system.
The name comes from the aerograms that are (still) provided for troops on active service and their families at home. Self-adhesive strips along the edges of the paper allowed it to be folded and sealed without the added weight of an envelope, meaning that more of them could be carried by air or by hand for the same total weight. Because of the blue paper these self-contained kits were inevitably known as "blueys", and the name came to carry something of an emotional charge due to the significance of receiving a possibly rare bluey from a loved one. "e-Bluey" was thus a natural term for the BFPO's electronic hybrid system.
One of the services that is provided by some of the British Forces Post Offices is the issuing and cashing of postal orders. A British postal order issued at a forces post office is very sought after by collectors of postal orders.
A postal order issued by a BFPO in a Commonwealth country, such as the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, is regarded as being a part of the numismatic and notaphilic history of that country.
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