Sending pathology samples by Royal Mail

Guidance for samples sent by GP practices or patients via Royal Mail.

Packaging for samples sent via Royal Mail must comply with Packaging Instruction (PI) 650 for Category B substances.

It is the sender’s responsibility to ensure that samples are packaged according to PI 650. This requires that the primary sample container (see Sample packaging requirements) must be leak proof and be wrapped in sufficient absorbent material to absorb any spillage.

The primary container and absorbent material must be placed in a single sample bag with the request form in the pouch.

The sample bag should be placed into a leak-proof secondary package which can be purchased from Royal Mail.

Labelling of packages

Packages containing infectious substances sent by post must be marked with:

  • the sender’s name and address
  • the telephone number of a responsible person, with knowledge of the shipment
  • the recipient’s name and address
  • the proper shipping name, eg ‘Infectious substance, affecting humans’
  • the appropriate UN number (UN 3373).

Diagnostic samples PI 650 should be labelled as ‘Diagnostic specimens’ or ‘Biological Substance, Category B’.

The appropriate warning label for infectious substances should be used.