Stamps may be bought from post offices (open weekdays 9 to 5:30, Saturday 9 to noon), from stamp machines outside post offices, and from newsstands. Mailboxes—known as post- or letter boxes—are painted bright red; large tubular ones are set on the edge of sidewalks, and smaller boxes are set into post-office walls. Allow at least four days for a letter or postcard to reach the United States by airmail. Surface mail service can take up to four or five weeks.
Airmail letters and postcards to the United States cost £1 (under 10 grams) or £1.33 (under 20 grams). Within the United Kingdom first-class letters cost 63p, second-class letters and postcards 54p. The Royal Mail website is www.royalmail.com.
If you're uncertain where you'll be staying, you can arrange to have your mail sent to the nearest American Express. The service is free to cardholders; all others pay a small fee. You can also collect letters at any post office by addressing them to poste restante at the post office you nominate. In Edinburgh a convenient central office is St. James Centre Post Office, St. James Centre, Edinburgh, EH1 3SR, Scotland.
Most department stores and retail outlets can arrange to ship your goods home. You should check your insurance for coverage of possible damage. If you want to ship goods yourself, use one of the overnight postal services, such as Federal Express, DHL, or TNT.
To find the nearest branch providing overnight mail services, contact the following agencies.
DHL. 0844/248–0844; www.dhl.co.uk.
FedEx. 08456/070809; www.fedex.com.
TNT. 0800/100600; www.tnt.com.