Franking machine supplies – Ink and labels prices and buying guide

For a UK business audience, understanding the right kind of supplies for your franking machine is crucial for efficient and effective operation. Specifically, when it comes to ink and labels, it’s important to make informed decisions to ensure the best performance, compliance with Royal Mail regulations, and cost-effectiveness.

This guide aims to explain the details and prices of ink and labels for franking machines.

Video: Common questions about buying or renting a franking machine

Franking machine ink and labels prices

Type of SupplyAverage Price Range (£)Typical YieldAdditional Notes
Meter Ink£50 – £100Varies by brandCompatible with most standard franking machines
Refillable Ink Tanks£30 – £60Varies by tank sizeRefillable; may offer long-term cost savings
Self-adhesive Labels£10 – £20 per roll of 500500 labels per rollEasy to apply; commonly used
Pre-franked Labels£30 – £50 per roll of 200200 labels per rollPre-printed, more expensive
Thermo-sensitive Labels£20 – £40Varies by roll sizeDesigned for thermal printers
Franking machine ink and labels prices

Importance of using the right franking machine ink and labels

Before diving into the specifics, it’s essential to understand why using the right ink and labels matters. Here are some reasons:

  1. Compliance with regulations: Royal Mail has specific guidelines on the type of ink and labels that can be used. Non-compliance can result in mail being returned or surcharged.
  2. Quality and readability: Authentic, high-quality supplies ensure that the franking mark is clear and legible.
  3. Machine longevity: Using the appropriate supplies extends the life of the machine.

Types of franking machine ink

Meter ink

This is the most commonly used ink for franking machines. It is designed to be quick-drying to minimise smudging. Meter ink cartridges are manufactured to comply with Royal Mail standards, so it is advisable to use brands recommended by your machine’s supplier.

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A genuine meter ink cartridge for a standard franking machine typically ranges from £50 to £100. Prices can vary based on the brand and the yield (i.e., the number of franks the cartridge can produce).

Refillable ink cartridges

Some machines come with refillable ink tanks. Though they might offer cost advantages, be wary of using unapproved inks as they may damage your machine or not comply with Royal Mail guidelines.

While the upfront cost of a refillable ink tank system may be higher, the cost per refill generally ranges from £30 to £60, potentially offering long-term cost savings.

Compatibility and approvals

Ensure that the ink you choose is compatible with your franking machine model. Furthermore, look for the Royal Mail approval stamp to ensure compliance.

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Types of franking machine labels

Self-adhesive labels

These are the most common types of labels. They are easy to apply and usually come in rolls. They are designed to easily peel off and adhere to envelopes and packages.

A roll of 500 self-adhesive labels generally costs between £10 and £20. Bulk purchases could offer value packs and reduce the price per label.

Pre-franked labels

Pre-franked labels come pre-printed with a franking mark and are useful for bulk mailing. However, they are usually more expensive than self-adhesive labels.

These can be pricier due to the convenience they offer. Expect to pay anywhere from £30 to £50 for a roll of 200 pre-franked labels.

Thermo-sensitive labels

These are specially designed for thermal printers and are heat-sensitive. They are not as common but may be useful for specific needs.

Specially designed for thermal printers, a roll of these labels can cost between £20 and £40.

Key considerations when purchasing franking machine consumables


The volume of mail you intend to send will determine how much ink and how many labels you need. Bulk purchasing may provide cost benefits but consider the shelf-life of these supplies.


Though it may be tempting to opt for cheaper, non-branded options, these may not comply with Royal Mail regulations and could affect your machine’s performance and lifespan.

Authenticity and approvals

Always check for Royal Mail’s approval and purchase from reputable suppliers. Counterfeit or substandard supplies can damage your machine and result in compliance issues.

FAQ for franking machine ink and labels

What happens if I use non-approved ink in my franking machine?

Using non-approved ink may result in your mail being returned, surcharged, or delayed. Additionally, it could potentially damage your machine and void any existing warranty.

Can I refill my own ink tanks to save money?

While refilling your own tanks can offer cost savings, it’s crucial to use ink that is approved by both your franking machine’s manufacturer and Royal Mail. Failure to do so can lead to the issues mentioned above.

How often will I need to replace the ink?

The frequency of ink replacement depends on the volume of mail you are sending and the specific machine you’re using. Typically, an ink cartridge can last for several thousand impressions. Always check your machine’s ink levels regularly to avoid disruptions.

Are all self-adhesive labels the same?

No, self-adhesive labels come in various sizes, shapes, and types of adhesive. Make sure to choose labels that are compatible with your machine and meet your specific mailing needs.

Can I print multiple labels in advance and use them later?

You can, but pre-printing franked labels should be done cautiously. Royal Mail has guidelines for the time frame within which pre-franked labels should be used. Typically, you must use them within the date of printing, unless otherwise stated by Royal Mail.

Is it possible to get customised pre-franked labels?

Some suppliers offer customised pre-franked labels, which include your business logo or other branding. However, these are generally more expensive and will need to meet Royal Mail’s standards for readability and design.

What should I do if the ink smudges on the labels?

Firstly, check to see if you’re using approved, fast-drying ink that is compatible with your machine. If the problem persists, consult your franking machine’s manual for troubleshooting tips or contact your supplier for assistance.

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