Meaning of POSTAL SERVICES in English

Most letters and packages posted in Britain are dealt with by the Royal Mail , which is part of the Royal Mail Group, together with Parcelforce , which delivers larger packages, and Post Office , which manages the country’s many post offices . As well as selling stamps, post offices take in letters and packages that are to be sent by special delivery. Post offices also sell vehicle and television licences and often greetings cards and stationery. In villages they are often combined with a newsagent’s and general store. In recent years, many smaller post offices have been closed because they do not make a profit, though this often led to protests from local people.

Mail (= letters, bills, etc.) is often called post in British English. When sending a letter, people can choose between two levels of service, first class or the cheaper second class . Normally, first-class mail is delivered the day after it is posted and second-class mail within two or three days. Letters are posted in red postboxes , also called letter boxes . Each has a sign giving times of collections . Postmen also deliver mail each morning direct to homes and businesses. They put the mail through a flap in the door, which is also called a letter box . In the country they travel round in red vans, but in towns and villages it is common to see a postman on a bicycle.

The system that deals with mail in the US, the US Postal Service ( USPS ), is an independent part of the government. Its head is the Postmaster General . Mail carriers , sometimes called mailmen though many are women, deliver mail to homes and businesses once a day. Most homes have mailboxes fixed outside, near the door. It is very uncommon for a house to have a letter box in the door for letters. People whose houses are a long way from the road have a special rural mailbox by the road. This has a flag which the mail carrier raises so that the people in the house can see when they have mail. To mail (= send) a letter, people leave it on top of their own mailbox or put it in one of the many blue mailboxes in cities and towns. Every address in the US includes an abbreviation for the name of the state and a ZIP code , which is used to help sort the mail. Post offices sell stamps and deal with mail that has to be insured. Most cities have one post office which stays open until late. Americans complain about the Postal Service, but it usually does an efficient job at a reasonable price.

In both Britain and the US only Royal Mail or Postal Service can deliver mail, though private couriers , are allowed to offer express services. This competition has hurt the postal services.

Oxford guide to British and American culture English vocabulary.      Руководство по британской и американской культуре, Оксфордский английский словарь.