How to trace a postal order

If you live in the United Kingdom and want to give money to someone who does not have a bank account, then a British postal order is a cheap way to send cash to people in 47 countries or territories -- but not the United States. Similar to checks, postal orders can be issued for amounts of up to 113 Kilogram (about £253 as of January 2011) and cashed up to six months after purchase. They can be bought at any post office in the United Kingdom, as well as 20 other countries or territories, and can be traced should the need arise.

Send the postal order to the individual or company you wish to pay and place the receipt in a safe place.

Wait at least 15 days, then e-mail or phone the intended recipient to confirm if it arrived safely. You may have to wait longer, depending on where in the world the postal order was sent.

Phone the Royal Mail at 00-44-8457-223-344. Give the identification number on your receipt and ask the Royal Mail to trace the postal order and find out if it has reached its correct destination and been cashed.

Visit your local post office if you believe the postal order has been lost. Pick up a P-58 lost mail form -- not available online -- and send it with the original receipt to the Royal Mail so the organisation can investigate its whereabouts.

Ensure you keep a record of the receipt's ID number. If the Royal Mail is unable to trace your postal order and it has not yet been cashed, you can apply for a refund.


If you believe your postal order has been stolen then report it to the police and obtain a crime reference number. Contact the Royal Mail so it can issue a refund if the postal order has not been cashed. Not all of the 47 countries and United Kingdom overseas territories that cash British postal orders also sell them. The countries and territories that do are: Dominica, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Gambia, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guernsey, Guyana, Isle of Man, Jersey, Malaysia, Malta, Montserrat, Singapore, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Tortola, Trinidad and Tobago.


Unlike regular mail or parcels, a postal order cannot be traced or tracked online. Neither can its loss or theft be reported online. Online fraudsters often target users of Internet auction sites by issuing fake e-mail notifications of receipts of postal orders. The Royal Mail and its Post Office subsidiary never issue such e-mail receipts. If you receive one you should report it to the police. The fee to buy a British postal order does not provide any insurance against loss or theft.

Things You'll Need

  • Receipt
  • Phone
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About the Author

News, business and sports journalist James Andrews began writing professionally in 1996. His articles have appeared in the "Coventry Evening Telegraph," "Daily Mail," "Newcastle Evening Chronicle," "The Sun," "Herald Sun," "Football Business" magazine and online at He holds a National Certificate in newspaper journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists.