Making your mark! Choosing the correct print type for your security seals

Security seals can be marked in a number of different ways with a variety of print methods, incorporating company names, logos, sequential numbering and barcoding.  Most commonly, our production facilities use laser, thermal transfer or hot-stamp print methodologies, and each marking type brings its own advantages and disadvantages, and is suited to particular types of application.

We categorise these marking types with different levels of security, High, Medium and Low:-

Print methods for security seals

When choosing the most suitable print method for your security seals, it is important to take into consideration the application of the seal - how it will be used and handled; for how long will it be in use; and in what kind of environments the security seal will be expected to perform. 

For example, a seal intended for outdoor use would require the most resistant laser marking to ensure resistance to the elements, including UV light emitted by the sun, temperature changes and moisture.

Conversely, for barcode readability on a security seal being used inside or in darker environments, thermal transfer print provides the best contrast and barcode scan-rates, although thermal print can degrade if the seal is likely to come into contact with solvents or abrasion. In this case laser-print barcoding is an option, although we recommend printing on pale colours only to ensure the barcode scan-rates remain high.

Another option, available on particular models of identification ties and security seals, is hot-stamping (also known as hot-foil engraving). Hot-foil prints are indelible, and have medium resistance to chemicals or solvents – they are particularly suited to printing on products which are more difficult to laser-print effectively, such as nylon cable ties and security seals. Hot-stamping is also particularly suited for applications in which users wish to hand-write on the security seal, as hot-stamped white areas can be easily written on using a variety on pens and permanent markers.

If you are in doubt as to the best marking type or the most suitable security seal for your application we are happy to talk you through the best options.  Please give us a call on 01829 760000 to discuss your needs today.

Universeal UK gains certification under HM Revenue & Customs Security Protocols

Protecting your interests whatever the Brexit forecast! Universeal UK gains Notice 205 HMRC customs acceptance for range of security seals 

Following recent re-testing, we are pleased to announce the certification of three Universeal UK security seals for acceptance by HM Revenue & Customs as suitable Notice 205 customs seals. This means they have been rigorously tested in their design, construction and secure anti-tamper features to ensure that they are resistant to known attempts to defeat security seals and so gain unauthorised access to sealed road, rail and sea freight cargo whilst in transit and during customs handling.

This will enable UK and European traders to use Universeal UK accepted seals in relevant circumstances as specified in HMRC customs guidance. With the continuing uncertainty regarding the status of the border between the UK and EU member states after Brexit, the use of accepted customs seals is one way to mitigate the risks of a hard border. It will also help to ensure that ongoing international trade is as frictionless as possible: our Locktainer 2020SH bolt seal, FlexiGrip 150M cable seal and Metal Globe metal strip seal have now all been added onto the HM Revenue & Customs customs sealing acceptance list as appropriate sealing devices for Customs purposes.

The Security Seal Testing Authority (SSTA) arranges independent testing of seals under criteria laid down in the European Community’s Regulations 2454-93 Article 386 Annex 46a, together with the Security Seal Specification SSIA-98-A.  H M Revenue & Customs categorize security seals into 3 groups:

Group 1: High-Security Barrier Seals

Barrier Security seals that can withstand a tensile test of 1000kgs and which have the unique reference number marked on each component in the case of two piece seals. Our Locktainer 2020 bolt seal is now Group 1 HMRC customs accepted.

Group 2: Security Barrier Seals

Barrier security seals that can withstand a tensile test of 250kgs, together with those two piece seals which, although capable of meeting the physical criteria laid down under Group 1, only have the unique number on one part. Our Flexigrip 150M cable seal is now Group 2 HMRC customs accepted.

Group 3: Indicative Security Seals

Indicative security seals, where strength is not considered a determining factor. Our Globe security seal is now Group 3 HMRC customs accepted.

Summary of Classifications

Group 1                Locktainer 2020SH Bolt Seal (also ISO17712:2013 & USA C-TPAT-approved)

Group 2                FlexiGrip 150M Cable Seal

Group 3                Globe Metal Strip seal

These models are stock items available for despatch from our UK.

In the run up to Brexit and the concerns surrounding no deal scenarios and possible delays at borders, we would recommend all freight entering or leaving the UK to be sealed with accepted trader seals to ensure the minimum amount of disruption during customs handling. The use of approved security seals which reach appropriate quality standards will also help to protect your cargos should delays cause trailers or shipping containers to be held at checkpoints or whilst stationary in queuing traffic.

The current HM Revenue Customs list is available under Notice 205, available on UK government website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-205-official-customs-seals-and-trader-sealing/notice-205-official-customs-seals-and-trader-sealing

Please call for more information or to discuss your security seal requirements with us.

Truly environmentally-friendly, biodegradable security seals

Universeal UK pioneers first truly biodegradable environmentally-friendly security seals 


Universeal UK has this month begun trialling the incorporation of revolutionary new green, environmentally-friendly plastic technologies into our plastic security seals to mitigate against the environmental hazards of single-use plastics.

Awareness of the environmental damage caused by single-use plastics, especially in our rivers, lakes and oceans, has rightly taken centre-stage in the public consciousness in recent years. Whilst most security seals are manufactured from materials which are 100% recyclable, the difficulty of responsibly recycling security seals which might travel all over the world with their cargos has presented a major challenge for the security seal industry.

Formulating single-use plastics which can properly degrade into harmless by-products has been a major goal of the industry, but has until now been a huge technical challenge to solve. Whilst supposedly “biodegradable” and environmentally-friendly “green” plastic security seals have been around for years, unfortunately the materials they are made from have not always been the cure-all which some would claim.

The problem with many supposed green plastics is that they can actually contribute to the problem of plastic waste. For instance, “oxo-degradable” plastics have actually contributed to the problems of micro-plastics in recent years, and are now being banned through many parts of the world. Similarly, other supposedly green “compostable” plastics only actually bio-degrade in special industrial composting facilities, which break the plastic down by using a combination of oxygen and heat. However, this means that if the plastic goes to normal landfill (of which around 80% of plastic still does) it will not biodegrade, as in such landfills there is not enough oxygen or heat to do the job of breaking the plastic down. The plastic therefore continues to persist for many hundreds or thousands of years in landfill. Alternatively, they are simply burnt and thereby release the carbon and other damaging substances which any other type of plastic would do. A further serious problem with these types of compostable plastics is that they cannot be recycled along with other types of conventional plastic – meaning that they can potentially cause more harm than good.

Over the last few years Universeal UK has been monitoring the development of technologies which can provide a better solution for single-use security seals. We are now extremely pleased to report that we have identified a revolutionary type of additive which can be incorporated into plastic security seals and can successfully biodegrade the plastic in the environments in which discarded security seals are commonly found: our landfill sites, or even worse, our oceans. The additive - which can be added to conventional plastic without affecting its properties - acts to break down the plastic even in anaerobic environments, once exposed to the types of bacteria commonly present in all types of conventional landfills, oceans and streams.

Once in contact with this bacteria, plastics can start breaking down as quickly as 30 days from their time of entering into the environment – this is in contrast to conventional plastic which persists for hundreds if not thousands of years. By-products left behind are Humus and Methane (bio-mass and Bio-gas), which are non-toxic; humus can actually be used as new soil to grow plants, and methane may be harvested into fuel. Independent third-party tests have shown that the additive conforms to ASTM 5511 testing standards, which is an internationally-recognised measure of biodegradation in anaerobic conditions prevalent in landfill environments.

Our trials of this potentially revolutionary technology are ongoing. Truly biodegradable, environmentally-friendly and recyclable security seals will help you to reduce your use of conventional environmentally-damaging single-use plastics in your supply chain - we hope to launch our first product ranges by the end of this year. Please contact the team at [email protected] to let us know of your interest, so that we can keep you notified of the launch of this exciting new range.

Protect online sales with a security-sealed returns policy

Security has never been so fashionable! Protect online sales with a returns policy protected by security seals 

no return if removed security tags

The growth of online fashion retail as a global trend continues, as customers increasingly enjoy the benefits of free, no-hassle returns when their purchases prove to be not to their liking – be that for reasons of fit, design or buyer’s regret.

However this also presents online retailers with a challenge; how can they stop the more unscrupulous consumer from wearing an item once or multiple times, only to then return the item with the clothing tag in place for a full return or exchange? Conventional clothing tags are small, unobtrusive designs which can easily be tucked inside the garment, pockets or in other ways hidden whilst being worn. Additionally, tags are generally attached with simple, low-cost ball ties or other plastic fasteners which are easily purchased online and replaced by buyers themselves.

Retailers are increasingly deciding to despatch online items such as clothes, hand-bags and other garments with true security seals such as the Universeal TabLOCK sealUNI416 or UNI414 security seal. Security seals feature sophisticated tamper-evident locking chambers which are resistant to attempts to open the seal without destroying the seal, preventing its reinstatement.

return policy security sealsUniverseal security tags feature large and prominent paddles which can be custom-printed and branded with your logo and text to convey your brand identity and advise users that a garment cannot be returned if the tag is removed. The security tag can then be sealed through prominent garment or handbag buckles, loops, button-holes or other features in such a way that it is not possible for consumers to realistically wear or use the item without first removing the security seal from its prominent position.

Using pull-through security seals as branded clothing return tags in this way serves to provide online retailers with a security check not available with standard clothing tags. It also acts to discourage unscrupulous purchasers who may be tempted to otherwise return items for which they are not legally entitled to a refund. It therefore helps online retailers to provide legitimate buyers with the option to return items with which they are genuinely unhappy, but prevent those looking to gain ‘something-for-nothing’ from taking advantage of no-hassle returns policies.

Universeal is a manufacturer and distributor of a wide range of security seals, security labels, tamper-evident packaging and identification fasteners in logistics, retail and across industry. Please give us a call on 01829 760000 or email us [email protected] to discuss your security needs with us.

Improving your carton, crate and pallet security with seals

seals for carton, crate and pallet security

Universeal UK supplies a wide range of specialist tamper-evident carton, crate and pallet security products which can give you an edge in the protection of your supply chain and delivery of product to your customers. Our new Snap 'N' Secure product provides an ingenious and innovative method of securely encasing and protecting pallet crimps used to secure pallet straps. Our range of standard security tape and customised security tapes (from 36 rolls+) can be used on a range of cartons, crates and pallet as a cost-effective and easily applied security measure to inhibit attempts at tampering. Branded packaging tape can also give you an indication as to whether cartons have been opened and accessed, and can also provide an effective way of raising your company profile. Finally, security plug seals offer a simple and effective sealing option for packing creates or ALC's ("attached lid containers"). 

Below is an overview of the main categories of product which may assist those looking for additional methods to ensure products, assets and equipment arrived at destination free from interference or damage:-

snap 'n' secure pallet seal

Snap 'N' Secure Pallet Seal

The Snap-N-Secure pallet seal is the only pallet seal on the market which addresses the most vulnerable point of pallet straps – the metal crimps. Application could not be easier; the seal simply clips around the banding with hand application. Any tampering attempts will cause the high-strength polycarbonate to crack at predetermined indication points, or shatter completely, ensuring tampering is obvious. The Snap-N-Secure can be applied to most standard steel or poly banding.
custom-printed security tapes

Stock & custom-printed Security Tape & Labels

Our security tape is available in residue & non-residue options, with/without security marking, as well as optional security numbering and perforations, for high degree of tamper-evidence. As well as our stock items (available quickly and in many standard sizes), we are also able to offer completely bespoke security labels, stickers or security tape, produced to your size, specification, marking
custom-printed packaging tape

Bespoke and branded Packaging Tape

Our custom printed packaging tapes are manufactured using high-quality PVC, hot melt or polypropylene materials, and available in a range of widths, lengths, colours and print options. Branded packaging tapes are suitable for sealing all kinds of parcels, cartons and boxes. We can also offer specialist bespoke tape suitable for use in outdoor environments, such as for pipeline ID applications. We can custom-print with customised repeating artwork, including logos, text print and simple illustration.
plug seals for ALC's

Plug seals for ALC crates

We supply a number of security plug seal products which are suitable for most types of ALC crates on the market from major manufacturers, including Linpac, Paxton, Alibert, ARCA and Buckhorn models. We can supply plug seals in plain, numbered, customised and paired seal options, to suit your particular needs.


If you have any queries on any of the above products or have a particular security issue you are looking to address, please call us on 01829 760000 or email us: [email protected]